Shay Mitchell Biography

Actress (1987–)
Shay Mitchell is a Canadian-born actress and former model, best known for playing the role of Emily Fields on Freeform's teen drama series 'Pretty Little Liars' from 2010-2017.

Who Is Shay Mitchell?

Shay Mitchell (real name Shannon Ashley Garcia Mitchell) was born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, April 10, 1987, and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, when she was 10 years old. She began modeling in Bangok and Hong Kong when she was 17, but gave up that career a year later in favor of pursing her dream of acting. Moving to Toronto, she began to take acting classes, and scored her breakout role as Emily Fields on Freeform's Pretty Little Liars in 2009. The teen drama ran from 2010 to 2017 and was a ratings hit. Playing a bisexual character also made Mitchell a role model for LGBTQ teens. Following her Pretty Little Liars success, in addition to philanthropic work and various endorsement deals, she formed her own production company and will star in Lifetime's psychological thriller series YOU in the fall of 2018. She's currently dating TV host and music executive, Matte Babel. 

Shay Mitchell Photo

Shay Mitchell attends Freeform 2017 Upfront at Hudson Mercantile on April 19, 2017 in New York City. 

Movies and TV Shows

'Pretty Little Liars'

Mitchell sent in an audition tape for the role of Pretty Little Liars character Spencer (which would eventually be played by Troian Bellisario) in 2009. However, casting directors called her to Los Angeles to audition for the teen drama's role of "jock girl" Emily, and within two days she booked the part that would make her famous. “I just remember screaming,” she said.

In 2010, the series — which also starred Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, as well as Bellisario — was picked up by ABC Family (renamed Freeform in 2016) and ran for seven seasons, with the finale airing in June 2017.

One of her character's most notable attributes was that she was bisexual and ultimately got engaged to another female character. Representing the LGBTQ community onscreen is something Mitchell, whose fans call themselves "Mitchies," has said was important to her. "I love that our show is shown all over the world and you feel like you can identify with a character — or if you can’t, your friends can," she said. "There might be an “Emily” in the world and she's having a hard time coping with coming out, and I hope in some way I can inspire that girl — or boy — to be strong and brave enough to be proud of who they are." 

Mitchell signed on to be the spokesperson for the Pantene Nature Fusion shampoo in 2011, before going on to score later endorsement deals for American Eagle, Nike, Acuvue, Biore, and Buxom.

Music Videos

In 2017, she appeared in Logan Paul and Why Don't We's music video for "Help Me Help You." The actress had also previously appeared in music videos for Sean Paul's "Hold My Hand" in 2009 and Nick Jonas' "Under You" in 2016.

'YOU,' 'Cadaver'

She formed a production company, Amore & Vita Productions, with David Dean Portelli in August 2017. The same month, Mitchell was cast to star as socialite Peach Salinger, alongside Penn Badgley and Elizabeth Lail, in Lifetime's upcoming television series, YOU. The psychological thriller drama is set to premiere in September 2018.

In August 2018, Mitchell will star as a cop who works the graveyard shift in a morgue, in the horror thriller film, Cadaver.

Mitchell also runs a YouTube channel — boasting more than 3.2 million subscribers — that she uses to give fans fashion, hair, and makeup tips, share recipes and her fitness tricks, and also highlight her travels.

Personal Life

In the fall of 2013, Mitchell began dating Toronto native Ryan Silverstein, who works under Drake's record label OVO Sound, as the rapper's assistant. He also appeared in Drake's "Started From the Bottom" music video. While celebrating Mitchell's 27th birthday, Silverstein reportedly gave a toast saying she made him "the luckiest and happiest man." The pair dated for about a year before they split in 2014.

She reportedly began dating Canadian television host and music exec Matte Babel in late 2016, and the pair was first photographed together in New York City in February 2017. Babel has worked as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, previously appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation, and runs a music management company. He is also reportedly friends with both Mitchell's ex, Silverstein, as well as Drake. The pair has largely kept their relationship private but do consistently post photos together on social media.

In May 2018, Mitchell denied reports she was dating NBA star Blake Griffin, saying she doesn't know the basketball player.

Charity Work

Mitchell has frequently advocated for the Somaly Mam Foundation, which helps prevent sex trafficking. In 2011 she traveled to Cambodia to further help raise awareness for the issue of child sex trafficking.

Inspired by her Pretty Little Liars character, she has also worked with The Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth.

Early Life

Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, April 10, 1987, Mitchell moved to Vancouver, British Columbia with her parents, Precious Garcia and Mark Mitchell, and her younger brother, Sean, when she was 10 years old. While attending high school in Vancouver, Mitchell — whose mother is Filipina and father is Scottish and Irish — has said she struggled with her mixed ethnic heritage and was "uncomfortable with myself." She has said she eventually dyed her dark hair to blonde and wore light contacts to fit in. Claiming she was the victim of bullying, she says instead of going to the school cafeteria for lunch, she'd eat in a bathroom stall to avoid mean girls.

While in high school, she also adopted the moniker "Shay." During an interview with Glamour in 2017, she explained how the nickname came about: "I love J.Lo, Jennifer Lopez. And when I was in high school, people would be like, 'Shay-Lo,' and then 'Shay' kinda stuck. We dropped 'Lo,' because no one can be J.Lo."

When Mitchell was 17 years old, she moved to Bangkok and Hong Kong after being scouted as a model. Spending one year overseas, she moved back to Canada to pursue acting in Toronto instead. While working there as a waitress, she began taking classes and eventually signed with an agent.

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