How Lucy Hale avoided getting 'sucked into' Hollywood: 'It really is about your circle' (Exclusive)

Lucy Hale credits those around her for keeping her grounded.

The former "Pretty Little Liars" actress, 29, has been in the public for nearly 15 years since becoming one of the winners on the one-season "American Idol" spinoff, "American Juniors," avoiding the fate of many other child stars navigating their way into adulthood in the public eye. Hale has never had any sort of public scandal and, as she told AOL during a recent interview, she's been able to do so as a result of who she spends her time with.

"It really is about your circle. This industry is just so bizarre. I can see how people get sucked into it, and you really just have to have that core group of people that not only humbles you, but also watches out for you," Hale told us exclusively. "Like, 'Maybe you shouldn’t do that or maybe you should do more of this.' I’ve just been really lucky with the people that have landed in my life."

Hale also considers herself to be an open book, but made sure to note that, just because she doesn't do anything overtly controversial, she doesn't consider herself to be a goody two shoes, either.

"I’m also really open about my life, and I wear my heart on my sleeve," she explained. "I’m not trying to be this squeaky-clean person that has never done anything wrong."

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Lucy Hale out and about
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Lucy Hale out and about
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 10: Lucy Hale attends the premiere of The Orchard's 'The Unicorn' at ArcLight Hollywood on January 10, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Lucy Hale, rocking Ellie Vail's Gage Oversized Link Necklace, is seen outside a talk show on January 9, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08: Lucy Hale is seen on December 08, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG015/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Lucy Hale attends St.Jude Walk/Run Hosted By Lucy Hale at Paramount Studios on September 22, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for St.Jude)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Lucy Hale attends the Showtime Emmy Eve Nominees Celebration at Chateau Marmont on September 16, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
US actress Lucy Hale attends the Showtime Emmy Eve Nominees Celebration in Los Angeles on September 16, 2018. (Photo by LISA O'CONNOR / AFP) (Photo credit should read LISA O'CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Lucy Hale attends Variety and Women In Film's 2018 Pre-Emmy Celebration at Cecconi's on September 15, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Lucy Hale attends POPSUGAR At Kohl's Collection launch event on September 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images for Kohl's)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Actress Lucy Hale poses backstage for Naeem Khan during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Lucy Hale attends the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Lucy Hale is seen on September 05, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Actress Lucy Hale attends the Build Series to discuss St. Jude at Build Studio on September 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Lucy Hale is seen on September 01, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG015/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 12: Lucy Hale arrives at the FOX's Teen Choice Awards 2018 at The Forum on August 12, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Lucy Hale attends Bumble Presents: Empowering Connections at Fair Market on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Bumble)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Actor Lucy Hale attends the premiere of 'The Unicorn' during SXSW at Stateside Theater on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Lucy Hale from the film 'The Unicorn' at the Pizza Hut Lounge at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sasha Haagensen/Getty Images for Pizza Hut)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0827 -- Pictured: Actress Lucy Hale on March 6, 2018 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Lucy Hale seen on the streets of Manhattan on March 06, 2018 in New York, NY. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Lucy Hale seen on the streets of Manhattan on March 06, 2018 in New York, NY. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: Actress Lucy Hale visits Build Series to discuss 'Life Sentence' at Build Studio on March 6, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Lucy Hale is seen on the street attending Self-Portrait during New York Fashion Week wearing a black/white stripe dress with black long coat on February 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actor Lucy Hale attends the Kate Spade presentation during New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Lucy Hale attends the 2018 amfAR Gala New York at Cipriani Wall Street on February 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22: Lucy Hale attends Lunch Celebrating Minnie's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and launch of Disney X Coach Collection at Chateau Marmont on January 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Disney)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Actress Lucy Hale of the television show 'Life Sentence' speaks on stage during the CW portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 7, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Lucy Hale attends the Lucy Hale & Avon Host #BeautyBoss Luncheon With Marie Claire Magazine at The Hearst Tower on November 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage for Marie Claire)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Lucy Hale attends the Jen Klein Day of Indulgence at a Private Residence on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Graves/Wireimage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Actress Lucy Hale arrives at the Teen Choice Awards 2017 at Galen Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 13: Janel Parrish (L) and Lucy Hale speak onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2017 at Galen Center on August 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25: Lucy Hale is seen on July 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG015/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
JERSEY CITY, NJ - JUNE 03: Actress Lucy Hale attends The Tenth Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Liberty State Park on June 3, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Veuve Clicquot)
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Perhaps that's why the actress has strayed toward darker material since her days as the star of "PLL." Following 2018's Blumhouse horror, "Truth or Dare," Hale will be filming "Fantasy Island," another film that puts her back in the horror genre.

"I love that genre," she said. "Obviously 'PLL' had undertones of that, but I do like the dark, edgy stuff. I did just finish a rom-com, though, so I do switch it up and lighten the mood sometimes."

In addition to throwing herself head-first into film roles, Hale is also making sure to take the time to give back -- while also encouraging her millions of fans to do so, as well. In partnership with Honey Nut Cheerios, Hale is competing against Michael B. Jordan and Rob Gronkowski to raise money for her charity of choice, the ASPCA, through the Good Rewards program.

"I really liked this program because it’s so simple," Hale said of the collaboration. "I know that people, especially millennials and people my age, are always looking for ways to give back and don’t know how. There’s too much to choose from. So, just find something that resonates. I used to feel like I had to do everything, but it didn’t feel authentic. And now it just feels real and not like a job. People believe you, and they want to help."

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