Shannon Ashley “Shay” Mitchell (born April 10, 1987) is a Canadian actress, model, entrepreneur and author. She is best known for her role as Emily Fields in the ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars.
Mitchell was born in Mississauga, Ontario to a Filipina mother, Precious Garcia, and an Irish/Scottish father, Mark Mitchell. Mitchell also has Spanish lineage through both sides of her family. Her parents work in finance. Her mother, who is from Pampanga left the Philippines at age 19. She has one younger brother, Sean. She is a second cousin of Lea Salonga, singer and Tony Award-winning theater actress well known for originating the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon. Even as a young child, Mitchell was interested in performing arts, declaring to her parents that she would pursue such a career. Mitchell began dance lessons at the age of five, and she and several of her classmates toured the city to compete with a variety of other dance schools. At the age of 10, Mitchell’s family moved to West Vancouver, British Columbia. Within a year of their arrival, an international modeling agency held an open casting call for teen and pre-teen girls who were vying for representation. Mitchell was one of the girls selected. She attended Rockridge Secondary School and then later transferred to West Vancouver Secondary School where she graduated.
By her late teens, Mitchell had successfully modeled for a variety of companies in cities as varied as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Barcelona, but she later returned to Toronto to study acting. After signing with her first theatrical agency Mitchell appeared in the Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation and booked several national commercials. Mitchell guest starred in the Global series Rookie Blue and appeared in the music video for “Hold My Hand” by Jamaican rapper Sean Paul. In 2010, Mitchell appeared in a four-episode arc on the Disney XD series Aaron Stone as cheerleader Irina Webber.
In December 2009, Mitchell was cast in the ABC Family (currently Freeform) planned adaptation of the book series Pretty Little Liars. Initially, Mitchell auditioned for the role of Spencer Hastings. In January 2010, the series was picked up by ABC Family. The series centers on four friends up against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal all their secrets whilst unraveling the mystery of the murder of their best friend. Mitchell portrays the role of Emily Fields, the “jock girl” of the group. The program gained quick popularity popularity despite mixed critical reviews. It has since been renewed to a seventh season, with the sixth season currently airing.
She coauthored the novel Bliss with Michaela Blaney (2015).
Mitchell supported Somaly Mam Foundation, a non-profit organization that fought sex trafficking until it ended operations in 2014. She has also worked with The Trevor Project alongside the Pretty Little Liars cast and the NOH8 Campaign. She has also taken Spanish language lessons to expand the range of roles she can take.
|2013||Immediately Afterlife||Marissa||Short film|
|2009||Degrassi: The Next Generation||Model||Episode: “Up Where We Belong”|
|2010–present||Pretty Little Liars||Emily Fields||Main cast|
|2010||Aaron Stone||Irina Webber||4 episodes|
|2010||Rookie Blue||Cute Girl||Episode: “Mercury Retrograde”|
|2012||Punk’d||Herself||Episode: “Heather Morris”|
|2015||Project Runway||Herself/Judge||Season 13, Episode 12: “Fashion Week: Who’s in and Who’s out”|
|2009||Sean Paul||“Hold My Hand“|
|2011||Young Hollywood Awards||Cast to Watch (shared with Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale and Ashley Benson)||Pretty Little Liars||Won|
|2011||Youth Rock Awards||Rockin’ TV Actress||Nominated|
|2014||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Summer TV Star – Female||Nominated|
|2015||MTV Fandom Awards||Ship Of The Year (shared with Sasha Pieterse)||Nominated|
|2015||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Actress: Drama||Nominated|