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Going from self-conscious waitress to one of TV’s biggest stars sounds like the plot of a movie, but it was more than just fantasy Shay Mitchell. The Pretty Little Liars star didn’t get to national fame her own: She credits her parents for encouraging her every step of the way. And now, as the newest Acuvue 1-Day contest ambassador, Shay has the chance to play mentor to teens with big dreams of their own.
The actress took time out of her hectic Acuvue photoshoot to give us the inside scoop on her involvement with the 1-Day program, her journey from Canadian high schooler to big-time star, and the beauty advice she picked up along the way.
How did you get involved with Acuvue 1-Day, a program that allows celebrities to mentor teens?
“This program was really an organic fit because I try to inspire people all over, especially younger teens, to live the best life that they can live. This is exactly what the program is about, so it was a perfect collaboration.”
How did you envision your future when you were a young teen?
“As silly as this sounds, I’m living my dream right now. I’m on a shoot with so many talented people, like Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas—pros in their field. I’m looking around today thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m a part of this. That’s crazy!’ When I was younger, I always had an inspiration board for visualizing and seeing the goals I wanted to bring to life. On that board, I had Hollywood signs, palm trees, and even a Teen Choice Award surfboard. It’s about having that set vision, seeing it, and bringing it to fruition. I was so blessed to have friends and family who were with me along the way. Now, to be a mentor to somebody else and to be a part of their journey, helping them to achieve their dreams…there’s not much more I can ask for.”
What was your inspiration as a teen?
“I think it was really having parents that were always there for me. My dad told me that the world is my oyster. You have to believe in yourself, and, more importantly, stay true to who you are. Don’t change that for anybody. It didn’t matter that I lived in Canada and was serving tables, or that most of the roles I auditioned for asked for a girl-next-door with blonde hair and blue eyes. When I went in for Pretty Little Liars, that’s exactly what they were asking for. Clearly, I don’t look exactly like that, but it didn’t stop me from going into the audition and doing the best that I could. That’s just the way I’ve been brought up, truly believing and understanding that if you have a positive attitude, you work your butt off, and you really see exactly what you want to achieve, then there’s nothing that can stop you.”
Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self?
“To embrace what I was born with naturally. Back when I was in high school, I dyed my hair blonde to fit in with my friends. They all had blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. I would stay out of the sun, I got blue contacts, I would dye my hair lighter. I look back at these photos, and I’m like, ‘Why was I trying to change who I was?’ If I just enhanced what I was born with, I would’ve been a lot happier. Embrace who you are and celebrate the fact that you’re unique. That’s what makes you beautiful.”
What are your everyday beauty essentials?
“A bright lip color because you can take it from day to night, and I sometimes have a last minute event that pops up. Put that lip color on and it changes your whole look. I would also say a moisturizer with SPF because that’s important for your skin. Lastly, my CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara. That’s my favorite thing ever! In my purse, I always have mints, my cellphone, and an extra pair of contacts.”
Do you have any behind-the-scenes beauty secrets from being on set?
“For early mornings when I haven’t had the eight hours of sleep that I would normally like, I have spoons in the freezer. I pull them out and put them on my eyes. They get rid of the bags and have a cooling, refreshing effect. So, if you come over to my house, you’ll see spoons in my freezer and that’s what they’re for!”