She might already be an Instagram "It" girl with nearly 25 million followers and have the lead in a new TV series, but Lucy Hale is just getting started.
Before landing her breakout role as the edgy Aria Montgomery on Pretty Little Liars, Lucy was a teenager from Memphis longing for stardom. Little did she know that the hit teen drama would end up catapulting her and her co-stars to fame.
Now, three years after wrapping up the show, the actress, 30, is back on the small screen as the titular character of new teen drama Katy Keene. A Riverdale spinoff, the series follows the lives of four friends as they chase their 20-something dreams in New York City.
"I think anyone can relate to having a dream and wanting to chase it," says Lucy of her latest project. "Hopefully, this show will leave people feeling really inspired."
Here, the doe-eyed beauty opens up about going after her own hopes and passions, while happily reflecting on life in her 30s.
HELLO! Canada: In Katy Keene, your character moves to New York City in hopes of finding success in the fashion industry. Do you think your real-life story is in any way similar to Katy's?
Lucy Hale: One of the main reasons why I fell in love with the character of Katy is because she reminds me so much of myself and my story of moving from Memphis to L.A. to pursue acting. That struggle of trying to make your dreams come true and the passion and drive that Katy has was a direct reflection of my personal story, so it was very easy to tap into.
You achieved those goals, and then some. Would you say that right now you're living the dream?
I get to wake up and do what I love every day, so yeah, I'm definitely living the dream. To me, success isn't really measured by fame or money or anything – it's more like a happiness level, and I definitely am really happy right now.
The foundation of the show is all about friendships. How important are your friends to you?
The people who you surround yourself with are everything. There's a famous quote that says, "You are who you walk with." And I think that it's so important to have people in your life who support what you do and are there for the right reasons and love you no matter what. I feel like Katy and I are similar in that we only want people in our lives who elevate us. Once you find those people, you've got to hold on to them.
Your character also has a passion for fashion. Does fashion play a big part in your life?
It does. I've always appreciated designers, clothes and fashion – and trying new things.
How would you describe your style?
As I get older, it's more about simple structures and a neutral palette. There are days when I want to be a bit edgier and I love vintage pieces. If I can find classic pieces that never go out of style, I really appreciate that.
Talk to us about your adorable dog, Elvis. You're always posting photos of him on social media.
I feel like my dog is just my little soulmate. I'm so obsessed with him. He's been there for me through ups and downs. I'm actually thinking about getting another one, and I'm sure I'll eventually just have a house full of dogs. [Laughs]
You recently said that your new year's resolution was to "accept the love that you deserve." Does that mean that you're looking for love?
I get that a lot because I am single, but I'm happy and I'm content. I have my friends and my job. I mean, I'm definitely open to whatever comes my way, but I don't need it – if that makes sense? If it betters my life, then yes. If not, then I'm cool. I like being single.
When it comes to your career, where do you hope you'll be in five years?
I hope to still be playing Katy. I love New York and I love playing her and bringing her to life. Since living in New York while filming the show, I really want to do some theatre, maybe on a hiatus or on my next break. I think that being there has sparked an interest in that part of performing, so that's kind of a long-term goal.
You mentioned the importance of having a support system. Who is the person in your life that has inspired you most?
My sister. She lives a normal life in Tennessee – she has two kids and she's about to give birth to her third. She also just started her own interior design business. She always said she was going to do it, and she did. She teaches combat classes and she's kind of like superwoman in my eyes. I'm just really inspired by her passion for life.
You turned 30 last year. How have things changed for you since reaching the milestone?
Oh man! I think I'm in the minority of people in that I was actually excited to turn 30. People say that your 30s are the best years of your life because you don't sweat the small stuff anymore, and I actually believe that's true. I don't know if it happened on the day I turned 30, but definitely in the past year. My priorities have just shifted a little bit and I don't worry about the stuff I used to worry about any more. I guess that's called growing up. [Smiles] It's nice.
This piece was adapted from Issue 704 of HELLO! Canada.