Between walking red carpets, managing her flawless social media presence, and dodging fan questions about who ‘A’ really is on Pretty Little Liars, it’s a miracle that Shay Mitchell has any moments to spare. But this summer, the actress is setting aside plenty of chill time. She’s teamed up with Stella Artois for the beverage brand’s “Host One to Remember” summer campaign. We caught up with the actress yesterday in New York City, hours before she celebrated her new partnership at a BBQ-themed bash, and she revealed why she’s always trying to host a party worth remembering. “You want to leave a memorable experience for people that come to either your BBQ or dinner event—I like to call it a summer soirée,” Mitchell told InStyle during a live Facebook chat. “I think [it’s perfect], just kicking back with a nice, cool beer at the end of the day.”
Choice beverages aside, what does the star’s ultimate summer soiree look like, meal-wise? “I love BBQs because I think they’re really fun and easy to do—you don’t have to be, like, a pro chef,” said Mitchell. “I’m a big fan of charcuterie plates—they’re super simple, inexpensive, and they look really fancy.” Once her party is underway, Mitchell isn’t afraid to let loose. Her signature move once she’s in beer-goggles mode? “I think with a good playlist and a couple tunes from Beyoncé, anybody can break it down,” she said.
While chatting with Mitchell, we asked her to spill on everything from her thoughts on PLL’s ending to turning the big 3-0. Scroll down for our full convo.
Without giving away any spoilers, are you happy with the ending of Pretty Little Liars?
I can’t give anything away, but I am really excited for the fans to have their questions answered. I think it’s time after seven seasons. So I’m really excited for people to see just what happens in these next few episodes.
Is Emily’s send off just what you hoped it would be?
Absolutely. The writers did such an amazing job, as they have done for all the episodes. But specifically the season finale, I think, is wrapped up in a perfect bow.
And of course we saw last week, Emily and Allie got together.
Yes, a little steamy!
Were you “shipping” that relationship?
Absolutely! I mean…I know there’s a lot of Emily and Allison fans—and I obviously love shooting my scenes with Sasha [Pieterse]—but it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out for the next few episodes.
When you first read the script that Allie was pregnant with Emily’s baby, what were the thoughts that went through your mind?
Um, yeah. That was a little crazy. But then again, we’ve had some very interesting moments throughout the years, so although it was kind of intense, you never know what’s gonna happen in Rosewood.
Have you guys already planned a series finale watch party?
We’re trying to! I may host something and have everybody come over which could be fun, so we’ll see. But it’s hard because everybody’s on both coasts.
What would you say is your most treasured memory from all the years of filming?
I would say the scenes with the majority of the cast together. There’ve been a couple really awesome scenes where we had the guys and the girls all together and even some of the parents and that’s just a really fun day on set because you’re really getting to hang out with all your friends.
Do you remember your very first day on set?
Absolutely—it was with Lucy [Hale], filming the walk-up-to-the-school scene when she had her pink hair. It was actually one of the scenes I had auditioned for so yeah, it was kind of crazy. But I have a perfect memory of that.
You wrote an essay for InStyle’s June issue all about the pressures of social media. Has your social strategy changed at all lately?
I don’t know if it’s necessarily changed. I mean, for me, I use the different social platforms in different ways to connect with the fans. I have a YouTube channel where I get to take fans with me on different trips and different learning experiences. On Instagram, it’s like little snippets—almost my own art gallery, if you will—and it’s a lot more curated. But again, going back to that piece that I wrote, social media, I think, should be looked at as people’s highlight reels instead of the actual reality. I’d love to say that I can fly and hold up balloons in the air, but I actually can’t, so I need the help of Photoshop and other really creative people to help get those images out there. I think at the end of the day, you just want to have fun with it and not take it too seriously.
Is there something you’d absolutely never post, under any circumstances?
I don’t know. Never say never! I don’t know—there’s nothing right now I’d say I never post.
Who are you following on Instagram right now?
I would say, obviously, my cast members because I want to see what they are up to. [I like to follow] food bloggers and that kind of thing, so when I go to new cities, I can check it out and see places I have to go to. Yeah, a lot of food bloggers. And Humans of New York is another really good one.
You recently turned 30, which is a major milestone birthday of course. How has that affected you—have you felt that it’s been a profound change?
It is! It’s a milestone birthday, but I think also to be honest, talking about food and drinks, I‘m really trying to try new dishes and make different things. So, you know, cooking is a big part of it for me. I’m like, okay, I can’t microwave everything that I make anymore, so I’m really trying focus on how to actually cook my own meals and that kind of thing.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
That’s why I like BBQing so much, because it’s really awesome. I also like making homemade pastas—sauces, not the actual pasta, let’s just clarify. I buy the pasta, I make the homemade sauce. And just recently, I learned how to make actual Neapolitan pizza dough…that’s gonna be up on YouTube, so you can check that out soon.
To balance eating all the pizza and pasta, what’s your fitness routine?
I actually love working out, I really do. I think for everybody, you can find something that you like if you try a bunch of different things, and I found that boxing is something that I really like. Living in L.A., we’re also really fortunate to get the outdoors. I love running stairs, which sounds crazy, but I’ll go to UCLA and just do stadium stairs. Saying it out loud doesn’t sound as fun as it actually is, but I promise you, it’s more fun than how I’m actually saying it.
Looking back on your 20s, is there anything that you regret doing?
Honestly, I’m really not a big regretter because everything I’ve done has landed me to where I am right now and I’m quite happy with that. I’m sitting here with a beer, which is kind of awesome, so to that [raises beer], I would say no regrets!
Is there one piece of advice that you would give your younger self?
I would say, ‘Don’t try and be anything that you’re not.’ When I was in high school, I really tried to be like everyone else, my other friends, everything. From changing my appearance physically to acting a certain way to thinking that was cool, I think if I could have told myself anything, it would have been, you know, celebrate who you are and celebrate your uniqueness because that’s what makes everybody special.
Last but not least, tell us your beauty routine.
Daily beauty routine I would say is definitely washing your makeup off—always. It’s something that I’m extremely adamant about. I have makeup wipes on the side of my bed, if I can’t wash my face for some reason. Stress adds a lot of damage to your skin, and I just think the happiest people are honestly glowing from the inside out.