Exclusive Q&A with Pretty Little Liars' Shay Mitchell

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After appearing on Degrassi: The Next Generation with The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev, Shay Mitchell is stepping into the spotlight on ABC Family's new series Pretty Little Liars. On the show, Shay plays Emily, a star athlete with a hot boyfriend and close-knit family. But Emily's seemingly perfect life isn't all it's cracked up to be -- she's hiding some powerful secrets that could shatter her world.

Shay took time out of her crazy schedule to talk to J-14 about her family, dancing past, and getting caught in a lie!

Don't miss the premiere of Pretty Little Liars tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

J-14: Have you ever been caught telling a lie? Shay: I have! This is really bad, but I lied to my parents about being at a friend's house, while we actually snuck out and went to a house party. I got caught because my dad called my friend's mom and was like, 'Hi, is Shay over there? She was like, 'No, she wasn't sleeping over. What is going on?!' They kind of put two and two together, and after getting 100 missed phone calls on my cell phone, I thought I should call him back. He was like, 'You are grounded for life if you don't tell me where you are right now.' I was like, 'Okay, okay. I'm sorry!' He had to come and he pick me up from the party I was at. My crush was there and just hid in the background -- it was so embarrassing!

J-14: Is your family at all like your Pretty Little Liars character Emily's? Shay Mitchell: I've been so fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents are extremely liberal. If only Emily had grown up with my family, it would have been so much easier for her because my parents don't see anybody for just surface value. They like to get to know you. And I've also been so close with my grandma ever since I was growing up -- she knew all of my secrets!

J-14: You started off as a dancer. How did you switch gears to acting? Shay: I've danced since I was a little girl, and it's such a big part of my life. Although I consider myself to be a good dancer, I always loved just saying lines and reading scripts. I'd go and see a movie in the theater with a friend of mine and as soon as the movie was out, I'd pick a character from the movie and I'd act like her for the rest of the night. I would pretend I was Ariel from The Little Mermaid all the time.

J-14: We hear you love to cook. What is your favorite food to make for someone? Shay: Pasta. I love pasta! I love anything Italian. Pizza and pasta -- those are my favorite things in the world. The one killer dish I know how to make is an awesome, fresh tomato pasta. So if I can make that for somebody and know that they'll enjoy it as much as I do, that really makes my day!

J-14: What can viewers expect from the upcoming season of Pretty Little Liars? Shay: Be ready to watch the premiere episode with all of your girlfriends and literally, you're going to be on the edge of your seat. Be prepared for that! I don't really have to say anything because you're going to see this first episode and have to tune in for the next one and the next one and the next one...

Photo: Courtesy of John Russo

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