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Shay Mitchell Covers Teen Vogue April 2013

Posted Tuesday March 5, 2013 6:58 PM GMT

She's made quite a name for herself on the small screen thanks to her hit ABC Family series "Pretty Little Liars," and now Shay Mitchell is soaking up the spotlight by covering the April 2013 issue of Teen Vogue magazine.

The 25-year-old actress rocked a gorgeous pink Topshop dress for the Sebastian Kim-shot front page while opening up about her character in the series and how she spends her free time.

"People always ask me, 'Are you gay like your character?' But I don't feel like I need to answer, because honestly, it doesn't matter. And it means so much to me when someone says, 'Thank you for playing this role.' It's one thing to entertain people, but it's something else to actually have a small impact on their life in a positive way, and that's why it's important for me to meet my fans. Whenever there's a meet and greet, whenever I can do a signing, I love that," Shay revealed.

"The casting directors told me Emily was gay and asked if I was cool with that, but I didn't have to think twice. I have a lot of friends who are gay; my aunt had a girlfriend. It's just normal. And the way that fans have reacted [to my portrayal of Emily] has been amazing: I'm not playing the gothic chick dressed in all black who eats lunch in the corner and is a lesbian. If you look at the poster, you wouldn't necessarily be able to pinpoint which one of us is the lesbian, and that was really important to me."

Besides her acting career, Shay loves helping others in need. "I work with a cause called the Somaly Mam Foundation, and that is my purpose in life, above anything else. Everything that I do, I'm thinking about girls. As strong as we are, we're also sensitive, and I feel like men take advantage of that. I'm not talking about adult [prostitutes], about the red-light districts. That's a whole other thing. I'm talking about children; they don't have a say, and they're being brought into [slavery]," she explains.

When asked what advice would she offer to her younger self and other girls in the world, the dark haired beauty answered, "I'd say embrace what you were born with. I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community, and most of my friends had blonde hair and blue eyes. So I was always straightening my hair, wearing colored contacts, and I never tanned, if I could help it. Now that I'm older, I realize that the things that made me different are the things that make me special. And when a girl comes up to me and says, 'You're so pretty. I want to look like you,' I say, 'No, you don't. You want to look like you, because you're unique and you're beautiful.' I have no problem telling anyone that I wear false eyelashes when I'm filming, and we've always got makeup on, even in the scenes where we just woke up, and we have lighting guys who are making sure we don't have double chins. We all have our things, but I embrace them, because I know nobody's perfect."

Photo Credit: Sebastian Kim for Teen Vogue