Shay Mitchell on Managing Toxic Friendships and Using Social Media Responsibly



Shay Mitchell is back on television! The Pretty Little Liars star starred in the Netflix hit series You alongside Elizabeth Lail and Penn Badgely (aka Dan Humphrey of Gossip Girl stardom). You debuted in Netflix in December 2018.

The actress played the role of the feisty, sassy Peach Salinger. It is a far cry from her previous PLL character, shy and athletic Emily Fields.

MEGA Peach You Netflix Shay Mitchell

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

Peach Salinger (from the fictitious family line of acclaimed writer J.D. Salinger) is the manipulative best friend of Beck (Elizabeth Lail). While it is normal for a best friend not to like the boyfriend easily, Peach holds a suspicion on Beck’s new boy toy, Joseph “Joe” Goldberg (Penn Badgley).  She wonders how Beck ends up falling for the scrawny and broke bookstore manager.

MEGA Peach You Netflix Shay Mitchell

Beck is placed right smack in the middle of this push-and-pull between Joe and Peach not knowing that neither one of them has good intentions for her.

Shay Mitchell spoke with MEGA during her press tour to promote the show.  She talks about her portrayal of Peach, how to deal with a toxic friend, and the perils of putting yourself out there in social media too much.

MEGA Peach You Netflix Shay Mitchell

On Playing Peach Salinger vs. Emily Fields

People have associated Shay with her demure PLL character, Emily Fields for years.  That is why the idea of playing Peach Salinger made her excited. “It was fun to play a character opposite of who I was accustomed playing in the past,” she said. “Playing the fiery spicy girl is kinda fun every once in a while,” she also shared.

Despite the personality differences on the surface, both her characters like girls. Was she afraid that she will be eventually stereotyped into these characters? “If I were to place three straight characters in a row, people wouldn’t be like, ‘You’re playing three straight characters!’ so, for me, it’s the same thing. I’ve always believed and I’ve been raised to believe that who you fall in love with is who you fall in love with. It’s their soul and not their anatomy,” she argued.

Managing Toxic Friendships and People 

MEGA Peach You Netflix Shay Mitchell

Women tend to find themselves in toxic friendships with the fear of hurting the other person’s feelings. But not in Shay’s case. She could never stand a friendship with someone like her character. She prefers to confront them instead. “I would never deal with a Peach for a long time. I would stand up and be like: you’re just not nice, it’s not enjoyable, and maybe you need to deal with some issues,” she shared. Through the show, she hopes people will start reassessing their friendships and finally call out people who don’t treat them right. “Bring them to therapy. Fix it or go,” she added.

Using Social Media Responsibly

Social media is another delicate subject the show covered.  Shay knows that being in the spotlight gives her a privilege to say something meaningful. But social media became unnecessary lens from which everything and anything is scrutinized.

“But what is this ‘glamorous’ life? This ‘glamorous’ life leads to a lot of insecurity and a lot of anxiety with these ‘glamorous’ people that have to deal with the spotlight,” she said. “Having so much criticism and comments made about them without people truly getting to know who they are,” she explained.

Celebrities aren’t the only ones experiencing the insidious effect of social media. People who religiously follow celebrities have led to believe they live mundane lives with mundane jobs. They feel a sense of inadequacy just because they don’t suddenly wake up on the other side of the world or they don’t step out of the house with nice hair and full makeup on.

She emphasized that social media should be a source for inspiration and knowledge, not to further fuel insecurities and scrutinize other people’s lives. “Focus on your own life. For me personally, I don’t want to be in my death bed thinking I’ve wasted so much time focusing on other people’s lives that I am never going to be able to live. If I admire a girl’s body or something that’s out there, maybe I should go to the gym,” she added.

MEGA Peach You Netflix Shay Mitchell

With Peach now out of the picture, we can’t help but wonder what’s next. A TED talk perhaps? “I would want to do a TED talk,” she laughed obviously aware that she has been talking profusely about the social media usage more than she should.

In a sea of endless selfies, #OOTDs, and #fitspo, her boldness is admirable making us look forward to what she’s going to get her hands on next. Sure, we will definitely Miss Peach Salinger, but we also want more of Shay Mitchell.

Watch season 1 of You now in Netflix.

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