In the seven years that Shay Mitchell has been playing Emily Fields on "Pretty Little Liars," she's noticed a difference in the kinds of questions she gets asked during interviews.
Mitchell's character has grappled with her sexuality throughout the series' storied run, and Fields' identity as a sexually-active, queer, young woman garnered Mitchell questions that focused purely on one thing: Kissing other women.
"It's also interesting to see the change when I first started the show to now," she told me recently over the phone. "I don't get asked that many questions [anymore] that are like, 'How is it to kiss a girl?' Those questions aren't being asked anymore."
Instead, she's getting more frequent questions about the impact that her portrayal of a gay teenager has had on "PLL's" primarily young, female viewers. And that, she implies, speaks volumes about the advancement of LGBTQ representation on TV.
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Shay Mitchell out and about
Shay Mitchell out and about
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07: Actress Shay Mitchell poses in the press room at the 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on May 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07: Actor Shay Mitchell attends the 2017 MTV Movie And TV Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on May 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/MTV1617/Getty Images For MTV)
INGLEWOOD, CA - APRIL 27: Actress Shay Mitchell arrives at We Day California 2017 at The Forum on April 27, 2017 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Actress Shay Mitchell attends the 9th Annual Shorty Awards at PlayStation Theater on April 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Actress Shay Mitchell is seen walking in Midtown on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: (L-R) Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, I. Marlene King, Shay Mitchell, Lucy Hale, and Sasha Pieterse attend Freeform 2017 Upfront at Hudson Mercantile on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Shay Mitchell attends the Freeform 2017 Upfront at Hudson Mercantile on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
LA QUINTA, CA - APRIL 13: Shay Mitchell attends the KALEIDOSCOPE: LAWN TALKS presented by Delta Air Lines & Cannabinoid Water on April 13, 2017 in La Quinta, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Kaleidoscope )
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Actress Shay Mitchell enters the 'Good Morning America' taping at the ABC Times Square Studios on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 25: Actress Shay Mitchell arrives at The Paley Center For Media's 34th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles - 'Pretty Little Liars' at Dolby Theatre on March 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 25: (L-R) Actresses Sasha Pieterse, Shay Mitchell and Ashley Benson appear on stage at The Paley Center for Media's 34th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles presentation of 'Pretty Little Liars' at Dolby Theatre on March 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - MARCH 01: Shay Mitchell attends WE Day Illinois 2017 at Allstate Arena on March 1, 2017 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for WE)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actor Shay Mitchell attends Vanity Fair and L'Oreal Paris Toast to Young Hollywood hosted by Dakota Johnson and Krista Smith at Delilah on February 21, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: Shay Mitchell seen at the Tory Burch fashion show during New York Fashion Week - Day 6 on February 14, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Shay Mitchell attends the Philipp Plein collection during, New York Fashion Week: The Shows at New York Public Library on February 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Shay Mitchell and Olivia Culpo attend Zimmermann fashion show on February 2017 New York Fashion Week on February 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
Shay Mitchell from ABC's 'Pretty Little Liars' poses in the Getty Images Portrait Studio at the 2017 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Hotel on January 10, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portrait)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actress Shay Mitchell attends the 2017 Weinstein Company and Netflix Golden Globes after party on January 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 10: Shay Mitchell arrives at the Marie Claire's Image Maker Awards 2017 on January 10, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 29: Actress Shay Mitchell arrives at the celebration for Freeform's 'Pretty Little Liars' Final Season at Siren Studios on October 29, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Actress Shay Mitchell arrives at the 23rd Annual ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 24, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 23: Actress Shay Mitchell attends the 12th annual Outfest Legacy Awards at The Vibiana on October 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - USA Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles visits the set of 'Pretty Little Liars.'' (Byron Cohen/Freeform via Getty Images)
SIMONE BILES, SHAY MITCHELL
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - 'PlAytime' - After Noel Kahn's abrupt death, the Liars try putting their lives back together again in 'Playtime,' the first of the final ten episodes of Freeform's hit original series 'Pretty Little Liars,' airing TUESDAY, APRIL 18 (8:00 - 9:02 p.m. EDT). Fans can catch up on where the Liars left off with an all-day marathon of season seven starting at 11:00 a.m. EDT and running up to the one-hour spring premiere at 8:00 p.m. EDT. (Eric McCandless/Freeform via Getty Images)
SHAY MITCHELL, LUCY HALE, TROIAN BELLISARIO
INGLEWOOD, CA - JULY 31: Shay Mitchell arrives at the Teen Choice Awards 2016 at The Forum on July 31, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
INGLEWOOD, CA - JULY 31: (L-R) Actors Ian Harding, Tyler Blackburn, Shay Mitchell, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Janel Parrish and Sasha Pieterse accept the award for Choice TV Show: Drama onstage during Teen Choice Awards 2016 at The Forum on July 31, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Fox/Getty Images for Fox)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0507 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Shay Mitchell during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on July 25, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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"The impact that it has had -- that I've seen -- has been amazing," she explained to us. "Having young girls and boys coming up to me and saying, 'This is incredible, it's helped me be able to open up a conversation with my parents or my friends. It's made it easier, because we're watching the show in our living room and it just came up more organically [than it otherwise would've].' I really love that. I always say, 'It's one thing to be on an entertaining show, but it's another to have a small impact on people's lives.'"
What's been so important about Mitchell's tenure as Emily Fields is that she and the show's writers have taken the character on a realistic, careful and complicated journey to becoming comfortable in her own skin.
"She has found her own," Mitchell, 30, said of her character. "At the beginning, Emily was trying to be who she thought her mom or the other girls knew her to be, but she really was this other person. She's a really strong, independent character, and I think that we got to see that in the end."
Like her character, Mitchell has also gone on her own journey as an actress during the seven-year run of "Pretty Little Liars," which she called a total "blur." The star told us that the series finale is simultaneously the "ultimate ending" and "a new start" as she looks towards a future without "Pretty Little Liars."
"It's exciting," she said of the possibilities that could open up for her now that the show is ending. "I just want to keep doing things that I'm passionate about and that I love."
One of those things is partnering with Stella Artois for the "Host One to Remember" campaign, for which she'll throw a rooftop party in New York City on Tuesday.
"It's everything that I am," she said of the collaboration. "I love hosting, I love having friends over, I love cooking and I love making things fun."
Mitchell will employ her own relaxed approach to hosting parties for the Braderie-inspired soiree.
"It's all about the details," she said about hosting. "It's about putting your own special touch on things that don't have to be so fancy. [...] You can walk away from a party or a lunch at my house and be like, 'Wow, she did add this one thing that I loved!' And that's what you're going to remember."
"I'm really excited for this event, and it's exactly who I am organically," she explained. "If that's my job, then I'm pretty lucky."