If you ever performed in a high school play, you’re probably familiar with the deep psychic wounds inflicted by watching videos of your younger self onstage. Luckily, this phenomenon isn’t exclusive to amateur thespians.
Actress Shay Mitchell, best known for portraying Emily Fields on the ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars, says she’s “mortified” to revisit the audition tape that got her the gig.
"I stalled for as long as I could, but I’m not going to stall any longer," Mitchell promised in a video posted to her YouTube channel on Friday, showing her fans the eight-year-old footage of what she called "the first big audition that I’d ever done." Aw, Shay!
The now 30-year-old Canadian actress cited Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl as shows that inspired her when she was trying out to play Emily, adding that she had to multitask in order to find the time prepare for her audition: "I was doing bottle service at this point, when I was living in Toronto, so I was in the coat-check room reading my lines," laughed Mitchell.
In the video, a baby-faced Mitchell reads her lines with a secretary from her agent’s office. "Why didn’t I just go to a studio? Because I had no money to get someone to put me on tape professionally," she recalled.
Watching Mitchell watch her younger self's audition is painfully relatable, from her horror at her past fashion choices ("My shirt matched the background!") to acting criticism ("I can’t! There’s, like, no pauses in this. I should have taken a breath.")
Ultimately, it’s nice to know there’s a happy ending: The nervous young actress auditioning for the role of Emily turned into Shay Mitchell, one of Rosewood’s best-loved characters — and a rising Hollywood star in her own right. Sure, the audition tape is a bit shaky, but it’s certainly not as embarrassing as, say, a VHS tape of someone accidentally flashing the audience during their sixth-grade production of The Crucible because their costume wasn’t fitted correctly and they hadn’t really figured out bras yet. (Not that this has ever happened to me personally.)