Shay Mitchell (born April 10, 1987) is a Canadian actress and model. She is best known for her role as Emily Fields in the ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars.
Mitchell was born in Mississauga, Ontario to a Filipino mother, Precious Garcia, and an Irish/Scottish father, Mark Mitchell. Mitchell also has Spanish lineage from both sides of her family. Her parents work in finance. Her mother, who is from Pampanga left the Philippines at age 19. She has one younger brother, Sean. She is a second cousin of Lea Salonga, singer and Tony Award-winning theater actress well known for originating the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon. Even as a young child, Mitchell was interested in performing arts, declaring to her parents that she would pursue such a career. Mitchell began dance lessons at the age of five, and she and several of her classmates toured the city to compete with a variety of other dance schools. At the age of 10, Mitchell's family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Within a year of their arrival, an international modeling agency held an open casting call for teen and pre-teen girls who were vying for representation. Mitchell was one of the girls selected. She attended Rockridge Secondary School and then later transferred to West Vancouver Secondary School where she graduated.
By her late teens, Mitchell had successfully modeled for a variety of companies in cities as varied as Bangkok, Hong Kong and Barcelona, but she later returned to Toronto to study acting. After signing with her first theatrical agency, Mitchell appeared in the Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation and booked several national commercials; including Pantene. Mitchell guest starred in the Global series Rookie Blue and appeared in the music video for "Hold My Hand" by Jamaican rapper Sean Paul. Mitchell also notably modeled for American Eagle Outfitters. In 2010, Mitchell appeared in a four-episode arc on the Disney XD series Aaron Stone as cheerleader Irina Webber.
In December 2009, Mitchell was cast in the ABC Family planned adaptation of the book series Pretty Little Liars. Initially, Mitchell auditioned for the role of Spencer Hastings. In January 2010, the series was picked up by ABC Family. The series centers on four friends up against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal all their secrets whilst unraveling the mystery of the murder of their best friend. Mitchell portrays the role of Emily Fields, the "jock girl" of the group. Despite mixed reviews, the series found success premiering to over 2.47 million viewers.
In January 2011, Mitchell signed a contract with Procter & Gamble to be the spokesperson for the Pantene Nature Fusion shampoo line.
On October 4, 2012, ABC Family announced that they renewed Pretty Little Liars for a fourth season. Filming began on March 14, 2013. It premiered on June 11, 2013, with the second part, season 4B premiering on January 7, 2014. Producer Marlene King and co-star Lucy Hale announced that there will be a fifth season of Pretty Little Liars. This was confirmed by ABC Family on March 26, 2013.
Mitchell supports Somaly Mam Foundation, a non-profit organization that fights sex trafficking. She has also worked with The Trevor Project alongside the Pretty Little Liars cast and the NOH8 Campaign. To prepare for future acting roles, Mitchell has been learning Spanish.