She originally auditioned for Spencer Hastings (mind blown), but happily took the role of Emily, and in a recent interview with Ocean Drive, she opens up about the awful response she got from fans.
"The criticism started when I first went into the PLL role and [the critics said], 'Oh, she doesn't look anything like the character," Shay explained. "The character is supposed to have red hair, fair complexion, and freckles; she looks nothing like that."
Fortunately she brushed the negative feedback away. "I thought, 'All right, that was the girl next door, and I'm the new version of the girl next door. The world is a melting pot now. It's no longer the typical American girl with blonde hair and blue eyes."
The role of Emily delves a lot deeper than what she looks like, and we couldn't think of anyone better to bring her to life than Shay Mitchell.
Kudos to you girl.