The Untold Truth Of Shay Mitchell

This article discusses postpartum depression, prenatal depression, and racist bullying. 

Shay Mitchell is not just an accomplished actor, but also a model, influencer, producer, writer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur — a true multi-hyphenate who can do it all. She is also a mother of two children who has been unabashedly and inspirationally outspoken about her experiences with motherhood, pregnancy, miscarriage, and more. "I can't just do acting. I can't just be an entrepreneur. I can't just be on social media," she once told Romper. "There's so many things I want to do. Why can't I do it? I have one life, as me right now. I could come back as something else, but I have to do everything that I want to do."

Mitchell began her career with modeling jobs, then quickly transitioned to acting. In 2010, she broke out with her starring role as Emily Fields on the show "Pretty Little Liars." She then went on to appear in series such as "You" and "Dollface," and movies such as "Mother's Day" and "The Possession of Hannah Grace." At the same time, Mitchell grew her online brand to become a popular lifestyle guru and an entrepreneur. She has done a big makeup collaboration, co-written a book, and worked on behalf of charities — plus much more. "You don't have to stay in a box. Just because you started off in one industry doesn't mean you can't jump into another one," she said in an interview with Self. That sentiment certainly rings true in the untold truth of Shay Mitchell.

She lives in LA but is very proudly Canadian

Like many in the entertainment industry, Shay Mitchell has made Los Angeles her home base, and she lives in a gorgeous 1920s house in the city's west end. In her heart, however, Mitchell remains faithful to her roots. "Canada always feels like home no matter where I am in the world. I feel so proud to be Canadian," she said in an interview with enRoute magazine. "It's something that I always let people know right away and, if I could wear a badge on my forehead, I would." In the interview, Mitchell expressed her belief that growing up in Canada has impacted her as a person and as a businesswoman.

Per Romper, the actor was born – as Shannon Mitchell – in Mississauga, Ontario, to Mark Mitchell and Precious Garcia, both of whom work in finance. The family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia when she was 10. Her parents, along with Shay's musician brother, Sean, still live there, according to Flare. She remained in Vancouver for most of her teens, until the end of high school, and still harbors a deep love for Tim Hortons, maple syrup, and Canadian treats like Smarties chocolates and ketchup chips, per enRoute. 

She has learned to embrace being half-Filipino

Shay Mitchell is from a mixed-race family — her mother is Filipina and her father is white. However, her heritage was not always easy for her to embrace. Speaking to Self she recalled growing up in a mostly Caucasian area of Vancouver. As the sole person who looked like her at school, she was sometimes ostracized for being different. "My mom would get derogatory remarks like, 'Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny?' And she was like, 'No, but what is your issue if I was?'," Mitchell said in a Women's Health interview. "In school, I was bullied — I'd get questions like, 'Are you going to go clean the bathrooms?'"

Unsurprisingly, these experiences did not inspire self-confidence in a young Mitchell and by high school, she was doing her best to assimilate. According to an interview with Elle Canada, Mitchell began dying her hair blonde and wearing blue or green contacts to look more like her white classmates during this time period. "I was so uncomfortable being Filipino," she told Cosmopolitan. Nowadays, the star has nothing but pride in her ethnicity, and she has made it a point to pass on Filipino culture to her children. "Right now, pancit is [daughter Atlas's] favorite food," she told Buzzfeed in May 2022. "I like seeing her enjoy that as much as I do. We also have my aunts come to the house and make lumpia, and it's fun to be able to see her ... experiencing that."

She modeled in Asia before becoming an actor

Interestingly, the same physical traits that made Shay Mitchell feel insecure during her school years are the things that made her stand out when she started in the entertainment industry. At only 18, she was scouted by a modeling agent and flown to Asia, where she booked jobs because of her unique mixed-race look. "I was getting cast because I didn't look like anyone else," she shared with a laugh during an interview with Elle Canada. "I moved out to Bangkok pretty much alone; I had to find my way and get on a motorbike to go to castings." Mitchell lasted only a year in Asia because her real goal was acting.

After Bangkok, Mitchell landed in Toronto, where she worked at a high-end cocktail bar doing bottle service while pursuing her dreams. "I put together 30 packages, and I drove around Toronto in my friend's car, handing them out one by one," she told Flare of the process of finding an agent. She landed a few small gigs, such as playing "Model" on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," before booking her breakout role on "Pretty Little Liars" after a few years in the city. "Out of all the girls on 'Pretty Little Liars,' I was the greenest. It was really great that people were willing to take a chance on me," she told Flare.

Her Pretty Little Liars fandom could be pretty intense

"Pretty Little Liars" lasted for seven seasons, spawned multiple spin-offs, and launched its four main stars to fame — none of which could have happened without the show's large, passionate, and vocal fanbase. But even though Lucy Hale ("Aria"), Troian Bellisario ("Spencer"), and Ashley Benson ("Hanna") have legions of fans themselves, all three of them agree that Shay Mitchell ("Emily") had the most intense fandom resulting from the show. In an Entertainment Weekly video interview, the cast joked about how Mitchell's fans often went so far as to tattoo her face on their bodies. "Just always traveling to different places, you meet all the fans and they're always so amazing and supportive," the actor said in the video.

In addition to possibly inking themselves with her visage, Mitchell's fans have collectively taken on the name, "Mitchies," which the actor has embraced. In one interview with Elle Canada, she discussed being approached by rabid fans everywhere from New Jersey to a tiny Irish island. Sadly, not all of her fan encounters have been positive, as Mitchell's personal space is not always respected when out in public. "I was walking in a grocery store and someone jumped on my back — and I knew the second she yelled, 'It's Emily Fields', it was a fan," she said in an interview with Galore Magazine (via OK!). "I guess being in someone's living room once a week on the TV makes them feel a little TOO comfortable."

She wasn't even looking for a job when she found You

It is not unheard of for actors to take a small break after the end of a long-running television show. Indeed, when "Pretty Little Liars" ended after seven seasons in 2017, Shay Mitchell was ready for some R&R. "To be honest, I wasn't even on the hunt to do another project," she told Glamour in 2019. "I just sat back and I actually read the script for 'You' on the way back to LA from New York. As soon as I landed, I called my team and said, 'I need to be part of this show. It's so good and relatable! I would be so excited to watch this show with my friends!'" While we don't quite get the relatable part — "You" is about a murderous stalker, after all — we are glad Mitchell signed on to play Peach Salinger in the show's first season.

After "Pretty Little Liars" and with her success as an influencer, Mitchell felt no pressure to fall into a project just for the money. In 2018, she told Collider that she only chooses projects about which she feels truly passionate. "That's one of the luxuries that I have now because of social media," she said at the time. "I don't have to do or act in a project that I don't care about. Projects that I'm acting in are gonna be the ones that I'm really excited about, and that's a really great place to be."

She strongly identified with her Dollface character

"Pretty Little Liars" and "You" are both great shows, but cheerful comedies they are not. That is partially what drew Shay Mitchell to her next big series, "Dollface," a Hulu comedy co-starring Kat Dennings and Brenda Song. "I was excited because it was a comedy role and it was a lot more lighthearted [than 'YOU']," she told Entertainment Weekly of her role as Stella Cole. "They are very different characters. Aesthetically you can see a similarity but when you get to know Stella, she's really a wild spirit and a complete 180 from Peach. It was fun to go from that to this."

As a character, Stella was well-rounded in that she was the easy-going, fun one in the friend group, but also evolved into a successful businesswoman with a good head on her shoulders. For Mitchell, it is the character with whom she has most identified. "I think Stella was basically me in my single years," she admitted to Buzzfeed. "Dollface" ran for two seasons between 2019 and 2022, and Mitchell was able to prove that her comedic abilities match her serious acting chops. The show suffered a huge gap between the first and second seasons due to COVID-19. It was canceled in 2022 following the delay. 

She is proud to have played multiple LGBTQ+ characters

All three of Shay Mitchell's most well-known characters — Emily Fields from "Pretty Little Liars," Peach Salinger from "You," and Stella Cole from "Dollface" -– have been LGBTQ+ characters, but that is more of a coincidence than anything. In fact, on "Pretty Little Liars," she first auditioned to play Spencer Hastings, not Emily. "When I got Emily as a part I was like, 'Oh, this amazing!' I fell in love with her character, and I am so proud to be getting to play her," Mitchell told After Ellen. "You know, her sexuality wasn't labeled ... She's just trying to figure it out. And so many teens are going through that same thing, where they're trying to figure themselves out. And I love that they can relate to her."

Mitchell has said that she tries to find things by which to relate to all of her characters, and she does not seem to be driven by any one aspect when choosing roles. Still, both Peach and Stella were characters who did not label their sexual identity and who fell in love with people of multiple genders. The comfort these characters had with themselves was a magnet for Mitchell. "What I was most drawn to with Stella is that there aren't any boundaries with who she is. She does what she feels and I love that," Mitchell told Variety in 2022. "It bleeds into her love life, she literally falls in love with the soul of a person."

She is a popular online lifestyle guru

Over the years, Shay Mitchell has utilized her acting fame to become a successful influencer and lifestyle guru. Focusing on topics such as travel, beauty, wellness, cooking, and motherhood, she has maintained a presence across many different social networking sites. Perhaps understandably, she's inferred that she is inspired by the queen of actors-turned-lifestyle-gurus, Gwyneth Paltrow – though Mitchell's vibe is much more girl-next-door than Goop. "It was important for me to have a brand that was Shay Mitchell, so you got to know me," she told Cosmopolitan of differentiating herself from her famous characters.

One of Mitchell's first big forays into influencer territory was YouTube, where she has playlists for her "Shaycation!" travel vlogs, amongst other content. As of September 2022, she had not posted on YouTube for almost a year. Regardless, her videos have amassed nearly 250 million views to date. Her decrease in posting content on YouTube has coincided with an increased focus on Tik Tok, where she has over 7 million followers, and Instagram, where she has a whopping 34 million followers, at the time of writing. Though she has a massive following, Mitchell has said she posts only what she wants to post and not what she thinks will hit with fans. "I actually couldn't give a s*** about Instagram likes," she told Elle in 2019. "I'm very passionate about that. I think you should post what you love, not what you think other people want to see."

She made a business out of globetrotting

Shay Mitchell's love of travel comes across quite clearly on her social media accounts. Particularly her YouTube where she has featured her trips to Indonesia, Morocco, Hong Kong, Greece, and more. In fact, the actor loves to travel so much that she even named her first child Atlas. Suffice it to say, Mitchell is into globetrotting, and she has plans for her children to become travelers as well, per Elle. If you need another hint that Mitchell loves the jet-setting life, let us introduce you to Béis, the lifestyle brand that she started in 2018, centered on luggage and other travel accessories. "I always felt like the bags I was finding were either out of my price range, looked good but lacked function, or were ugly and super packed with features," she told Forbes in 2021.

According to Forbes, Béis was bringing in more than $20 million in sales by 2019, and the brand has only continued to grow from there. Per TZR, they are currently focused on integrating more environmentally friendly materials in both the construction of products and the packaging. "We've been busy innovating, perfecting, keeping our finger on the pulse of what is happening and predicting what consumers' needs will be," Mitchell told the outlet in 2021. "We're always expanding our core collection while also releasing seasonal collections with exciting fabrications." Per Romper, a massive eighty percent of website traffic reportedly comes from Instagram, cementing the importance of Mitchell's huge social following.

She experienced prenatal depression

In recent years, many celebrities have experienced postpartum depression and discussed it in the media, including (but not limited to) Alanis Morissette, Chrissy Teigen, and Brooke Shields. It is more of a rarity, however, for famous women to discuss their mental health struggles during pregnancy. This is the reason why Shay Mitchell decided to be so open about her own issues with prenatal depression while pregnant with her first child, Atlas. "I hadn't heard much about it, which is why I kind of went on a whole thing speaking about my experience. I wanted people to feel like they weren't 'crazy,' like they weren't alone if they weren't feeling like a glorious goddess during their pregnancy," she told Buzzfeed. "It's okay to actually not feel amazing. That doesn't mean that you're not grateful to be pregnant — I am extremely grateful."

According to Beaumont Health, prenatal depression describes the experience of depression during pregnancy, and though it is not as commonly discussed, it is experienced by a fair share of women. In fact, per the CDC, the number of women experiencing depression at the time of delivery was seven times higher in 2015 compared to 2000. "Feeling that I was alone in my depression compounded my state of mind ... pregnancy can be a hard time, especially if you're having to hide it," Mitchell said of her first pregnancy, which she hid until the six-month mark due to her previous experience with miscarriage, per Babe Hatch.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She is still in contact with many past co-stars

Shay Mitchell has been on a number of big television shows, and it seems that she has been lucky enough to form some lasting friendships with her co-stars. In a 2022 Buzzfeed interview, she discussed being close with the cast of her show "Dollface," despite being canceled after its second season. "It was so much fun to shoot that show. Those girls are amazing, and we're still in contact," she said. In 2022, she appeared on an episode of Penn Badgley's podcast, "Podcrushed," so Mitchell may still be pals with her "You" co-star. 

Naturally, she is still very much still connected to many of her "Pretty Little Liars" castmates and friends. It is a known fact that Mitchell was always close with co-star Ashley Benson, who played Hanna Marin on the show. And we know they still hang out at least sometimes, because every time they so much as make a TikTok, it lands in the news. In 2021, Benson told Cosmopolitan that she and Mitchell lived near one another and that Mitchell was like a sister to her. The "You" star is also tight with "PLL" star, Troian Bellisario, and has said she goes to her for motherhood advice since Bellisario also has two young kids (per ET). "Pretty Little Liars" co-star, Ian Harding (Ezra Fitz), has also remained in Mitchell's life and can be seen in multiple of her YouTube videos, including one on pregnancy cravings and one featuring a gingerbread house competition.

She has no time for mommy shamers

Because Shay Mitchell shares so much of her life on social media, she is at times on the receiving end of unfair attacks on her choices based upon the small snippets the public gets to see. And like so many female celebrities with young children, Mitchell has fallen victim to people who want to critique her for her parenting choices. These mommy shamers don't phase Mitchell, and they have not stopped her from sharing her kids and life. "It's definitely something that you have to ask yourself on a daily basis, or at least for us. We're like, 'Hey, is this OK?'," she told She Knows. "There are, of course, some personal moments that we don't need to share with everybody, and that we'll save just for us. But there's also so many moments that I do want to put out there."

Mitchell's first taste of mom shaming came when she posted evidence of her and her partner, Matte Babel, attending Drake's birthday party, three weeks after the birth of their daughter Atlas. While she once told Vogue that she was bothered by peoples' quick rush to judgment and unfair assessments, she seemed more annoyed for others than for herself when she spoke about it a year later with Romper. "It bothered me to think of the other moms seeing that and feeling like, 'Oh my gosh, is that not appropriate? Should I not be going out after?' No. You should do whatever you feel like doing," she said.

She is passionate about social justice and human rights

Shay Mitchell is a woman who speaks up about the things she believes in, and who has made it a point to utilize her rising star for good. At the most basic level, she maintains an "Impact" tab on her Instagram highlights, where she promotes various charities and causes. But beyond that, she has partnered with a number of organizations over the years. For instance, her role as Emily on "Pretty Little Liars" inspired her to get involved with LGBTQ+ charities such as The Trevor Project and the NOH8 Campaign. She has also done fundraising work for GLAAD (through a partnership with Represent Clothing) and has been an advocate for WE charity, per Self.

Amongst Mitchell's most fervent passions is creating awareness around global sex trafficking. She has worked with the Somaly Mam Foundation on the issue and has seen the reality of the sex trade in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines, where her mom is from. "Sexual exploitation was everywhere, and it really had an impact on me," she told Elle Canada. "To be honest with you, my biggest dream is not to win an Oscar. For me, it's to open up a Somaly Mam centre in the Philippines in the next few years." In addition to these causes, Mitchell has also used her company, Béis, to do good, partnering with the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up initiative, and even helping make N95 masks for frontline workers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has her own production company

According to her LinkedIn profile, Shay Mitchell started her production company, Amore & Vita Productions, in 2017. While the company did not get much off the ground in its first few years, its first show has since become a bonafide hit. The company produces "The Cleaning Lady," a Fox crime drama based upon the Argentinian series, "La chica que limpia." It premiered in 2022 and was renewed for a second season that same year. 

Mitchell is credited as an executive producer on "The Cleaning Lady," and interviews have made it clear that she has been involved since the show's American inception. "After finishing the (original) series, I wanted to take that concept but explore topics of privilege and exploitation in the U.S. as it pertains to immigrants," she said in a Variety interview. "Finding Miranda [Kwok] and discussing the concept for the show was awesome. I also knew that I wanted a diverse cast that provided prominent roles for people who are often underrepresented." In the interview, Mitchell also explained that one reason she responded to the show's premise was that some of her own family members with advanced degrees have had to work as cleaning ladies or nannies after emigrating to North America for a better life, much like the show's protagonist.

Her exercise regime is for mental and physical fortitude

Though she is a former model with a fantastically toned body, Shay Mitchell seems to have a very healthy relationship with exercise, as well as food and nutrition. As she mentioned in an interview with The Cut, Mitchell does not work out to look a certain way or to get or stay slim, but because she knows the benefits that exercise has on her physical and mental wellbeing. "It really was about getting stronger," she said in the 2017 interview. "That's why I like cycling and yoga; I like to see the growth and improvement from class to class. I try to work out three to four times a week if I can."

In addition to being stronger in the physical sense, Mitchell has said she also uses exercise to stay mentally fit. "Physical exertion is my therapy," she said in a 2021 interview with TZR. "Working out brings me balance and allows me time to recenter and get perspective." Speaking to Self, she shared that she uses boxing to calm herself — as odd as that sounds. "My mind constantly races, but when you're boxing, you truly have to be in the moment — or you're going to get hit in the face," she elaborated. Mitchell told the outlet that she has also been known to integrate swimming, tennis, circuit training, and cross-training into her routine.

Her net worth is on the climb

According to Celebrity Net Worth, as of 2022, Shay Mitchell was estimated to be worth a cool $6 million and, with all of her ventures, that number is sure to keep climbing. She owns a gorgeous 1920s home in Los Angeles, which was already beautiful when it was featured in Architectural Digest in 2020, but became even more elevated when HGTV star Leanne Ford gave it a makeover a year later. If her social media is any indication, Mitchell may spend a chunk of her money on exciting vacations and to-die-for fashions — though, as an influencer, a lot of it could likely be free. 

How exactly did she make her money? While we don't know exact details, much of Mitchell's net worth likely comes from her acting career, which has included 160 episodes of "Pretty Little Liars," 20 episodes of "Dollface," and 6 episodes each of "You" and "Trese," along with a dozen or so other projects. She also has her travel brand, Béis, and an alcoholic seltzer water brand called Onda, per Forbes. Then there are her production, modeling, and endorsement deals, which have included everything from Biore to the health and fitness app, Openfit. If that were not enough, she has also had collaborations with Smashbox makeup and even co-authored a novel, "Bliss," in 2015 with her best friend, Michaela Blaney.