Unfortunately, Shay’s entry into the public eye made her the instant object of ire for jerky fans who didn’t like seeing a non-white girl in the role of Emily Fields.
“I remember being so excited to get the part, and then I started getting messages on Twitter saying, ’You are not right for this,'” Shay remembered. But she’s the first to counter that in the present-day U.S.A., she’s exactly right for her role: “In the casting breakdown, the producers said they were looking for the girl next door. Who’s to say I’m not the girl next door in this day and age?”
But the actress, who is of Filipino and Irish descent, also admits that she hasn’t always felt so confident about her unique looks—particularly not as a teenager.
“I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian community,” she explained, “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 despite her status as a teen star, Shay makes a point of demystifying the process by which she and her co-stars become screen-ready each day. She explains, “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.”
Her takeaway: “We all have our things, but I embrace them, because I know nobody’s perfect.”
Our takeaway: But seriously, how great would it be to have your very own double chin prevention team on call every day? Where can we get one of those?
Do you love Shay’s pretty little interview in Teen Vogue?