An interview with Lindsey Shaw

For three years, Lindsey Shaw played everyone’s favorite middle school tomboy, Jennifer Ann “Moze” Mosely, on Nickelodeon’s Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. She followed it up with the CW’s Aliens in America before she made the leap to ABC Family for 10 Things I Hate About You. Most recently, she has become an favorite on Pretty Little Liars, where she plays Paige McCullers, a teenager trying to come to terms with her sexuality and her hatred-turned-attraction for Emily Fields.

Before flying off for her next ABC Family project, Teen Spirit, Lindsey chatted with me about her time on Pretty Little Liars and why playing a lesbian meant so much to her.

Lindsey Shaw: I apologize for my voice. It’s really hoarse. I’ve been in voice lessons all morning.

AfterEllen: Practicing for your karaoke follow up?
LS: [laughs] That’s hilarious. All my friends saw that episode and they were like, “Oh, Lindsey.”

But no, I’m doing an ABC Family TV movie. I’m going to North Carolina next Monday to do it, and I kind of have to be a rocking singer in it. I’m actually going in to do the recording this afternoon. It’s super fun and cool, and it’s very, very exciting. I’m just hoping I can do what I need to do with this voice.

AE: You’d probably better take Shay Mitchell with you for backup.
That’s a good idea!

AE: So let’s talk about your Pretty Little Liars experience.
I loved my Pretty Little Liars experience. I didn’t expect to be so fulfilled as an artist and a person, but it was such a wonderful experience.

AE: How did you land the role of Paige?
When I got the audition for Paige, I had just cut my hair. I got back from my summer, and I was like, “I really just need to cut this off.” I actually cut 10 inches off my hair. I went in and read for the part and I think they liked me, but I kind of got the feeling they wanted a blonde for the role. But they called me back for a chemistry read with Shay Mitchell and it was amazing. Sometimes chemistry reads can be — I don’t know, just not as good as you want them to be. But it was so much fun with Shay. I remember saying to her afterward, “You’re really good!” But I didn’t mean it like that. I meant, “This is really fun!” 

I got the part and I was so excited. When my manager called to tell me I’d gotten it, he was like, “But they want to do something even more drastic with your hair.” Hence the shorter ‘do and the bangs. Anyway, the three-episode arc turned into a six-episode arc, and it was like a fairy tale the whole way through. It was a like a cornucopia — yes, I just said cornucopia — of really wonderful experiences.

AE: So Paige was only supposed to be a three-episode character?
Yes, they’d kind of hinted that it might turn into more, and I was really excited when it did. You kind of always feel validated as an actor when that happens, like, “Yes! I don’t suck!” And I was having such a good time I didn’t want it to end.

AE: So will Paige be back for the second season?
You know, I don’t know. You’ll have to see how things resolve in the next episode and judge for yourself whether it’s a beginning or an end.

AE: Lindsey, I swear to God, if Paige is A, I will lose it.
I can’t tell you that! They’ve entrusted me deeply with those secrets!