Canadian actress, model, and entrepreneur Shay Mitchell brought her YouTube fans on a trip down memory lane, revisiting a very special audition tape–the one that earned her a starring role in the Freeform series Pretty Little Liars. Shot in her agency’s basement in Canada eight years previously, the audition led to Shay being cast as the down-to-earth teenage “jock girl” Emily Fields in the popular teen mystery thriller from 2010 to 2017. Indeed, playing Emily on the female-driven show served as Mitchell’s breakthrough into the business.

Shay’s manager actually first sent her the script and character background for the role of the overachieving, type-A Spencer Hastings. So Mitchell did read for Spencer, but she says, “Then I read for Emily’s background and immediately I was like, ‘This fits.’ I used to be a swimmer, I understood this character.” Ultimately, Troian Bellisario ended up nabbing the role of Spencer.

When actors review their own work, it’s common for them to express pride in certain choices and sometimes cringe at perceived mistakes or unforgiving closeups. In this spirit, Mitchell gives a line-by-line critique of her Emily audition admitting she’s “a little embarrassed.” At a couple of points, she notes, “There’s no pauses in this; I should’ve taken a breath!” and “This is the part where I’m like, ‘You need to redo it. No, like what are you doing?’ I don’t understand. I’m a little bit smiling when I’m talking about my dead friend!”

But Shay keeps her efforts in perspective, saying, “You hope that as the years go on, as with any job, that you get better at your craft. So looking back on this as the years go by, I get more mortified and more mortified when I watch it because I just see little me extremely nervous–this being the first big audition that I’d ever done.”

For her work in the series, Mitchell was nominated twice at the Teen Choice Awards.

Since her run with Pretty Little Liars began up till the present, Shay has maintained a YouTube channel and indeed has become an Internet sensation with over three million subscribers tuning into her weekly videos. Shay delves into topics like fashion and hair with her personable nature, and she shares makeup tips, recipes, travel stories, fitness routines, and backstage footage from her acting projects. Opportunities continuously come her way, one of which is becoming BUXOM Cosmetics’ Creative Brand Ambassador, and so she helps to develop creative content and social media campaigns for the company. Mitchell can also be seen on various shampoo, clothing, and shoe commercials since she took on the role of Emily.

When Pretty Little Liars’ run was coming to an end last summer, Shay told Teen Vogue, “There are so many things I want to do, and I have a huge board at home with all these projects that I want to start doing … I think for me, it’s just always really important to do things that you’re passionate about, whatever that is … Whatever it is, I give it my all. You have to do everything you want in this one life that you have.”

With that in mind, Mitchell stars in the disturbing Lifetime television series You which is set to premiere on September 9. Based on Caroline Kepnes’ novel of the same name, Mitchell portrays the socialite Peach Salinger alongside Gossip Girls’ Penn Badgley. The series raises questions about privacy and modern dating.

But Mitchell says she one day hopes to play a Bond girl. “I do love action movies and I do love stunts … So ‘Bond,’ ‘Fast & Furious,’ ‘Mission Impossible’ … I want to play a strong, kickass girl in heels. I’m better in heels. I can run faster in them than in flats.”

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