SINCE WINNING THE talent show American Juniors in 2003, Lucy Hale has gone on to star in numerous TV series, including Bionic Woman, and the film A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song. She is best known for her current role as Aria Montgomery in the hit ABC Family series Pretty Little Liars, for which she has earned three Teen Choice Awards. Now, with a country album due out in 2013, and both a Cosmopolitan and Runway cover in the same month, we can expect to see a lot more of the multitalented 23-year-old. (Actually, if she has her way with a certain movie adaptation, a whole lot more.)
Pretty Little Liars is a show about secrets. Tell us something that readers wouldn’t necessarily know about you.
I think that in interviews I appear very outgoing and bubbly – and that’s pretty much how I am – but I think people would be surprised to know that I have a side to me that’s very quiet, shy and reserved.
Your full name is Karen Lucille Hale. Why did you choose to go by Lucy Hale?
People always think that because I’m an actress, I changed my name – but really, I’ve been called Lucy since I was born. So that’s a question for my mom. I’m guessing it’s because they wanted to keep my two grandmothers’ names in the family.
Did you know that Lucy Hale was also the name of the fiancée of John Wilkes Booth [the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln]?
I actually did! I believe that her father’s name was John, and that’s my dad’s name too – crazy, I know [laughs].
Pretty Little Liars is a successful book-to-TV adaptation. Do you think having a prior readership following helps, or does it sometimes restrict the show?
Here in the States, when it aired I definitely think that having a readership helped. [The books were] on the bestseller list, and people were very excited about them. I think the buzz of all that made people want to tune in. For the first season we stayed pretty true to the book, but now that we’ve got the viewership that we have, the writers have sort of gone in their own direction. It’s made some people a little bit angry, because they are such huge fans, but I’d definitely say in the long run that [having a readership] worked to our advantage.
What shows do you watch on TV?
I like Breaking Bad, Shameless and I’ve recently gotten into The Newsroom. Those are the only scripted shows that I watch. I also love the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Food Network.
You’ve got a country album coming out in 2013. Can you tell us more about that?
I signed a deal with Hollywood Records a couple months ago, so we’re writing and recording. It’s just exciting for me to get back into music, because that’s really what I wanted to do. It’s very fun, and I’m really lucky with the people that I’m working with. We hope to have it out later next year, depending on my schedule and how everything works out.
I read that Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” was a big influence on you. Is that true?
I grew up in Tennessee so I was raised on country music, but I was also born in the generation of girl pop stars like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson…First of all, I’m a lover of all music: from jazz to Jay-Z, I love music. In an interview, I was asked what was the moment when I realised that I wanted to be a performer. I just told them that I remembered sitting in my living room, when I turned on MTV – and as soon as the [“…Baby One More Time”] video came on, I was entranced. That was the moment I realised I wanted to sing.
With your passion for singing, would you consider being a guest on Glee?
Oh, I’ve been saying that since the show came out – yep, in a heartbeat. I would do a one-liner on that show! I think the creators have really nailed it, and it just goes to show how much people enjoy music. It’s got such a cult following and I think it’s a brilliant idea.
How about Broadway?
Yes! I’d have to work out the scheduling of everything else, because that would be my life 24/7. I think the true test of a performer is Broadway: you learn a lot about yourself and what you have to offer. I’m at the point now where I don’t really want to rule anything out, and I love New York City – so I’d definitely be up for it.
You’ve done some modelling for brands such as Bench and Bongo. Do you approach it from a different angle than acting or singing?
It’s so funny because I’m, like, not a model at all [laughs]. Obviously none of those things would have come about if it weren’t for the show and what I do. But the shoot for Runway was amazing – the clothes were unbelievable. I can’t wait for everyone to see the pictures. Every photo shoot I’m getting more and more comfortable, but I’m always slightly out of my element when it comes to that, because I’m used to using my acting abilities or my singing to [justify] why I’m there. But it’s definitely fun…and funny at the same time!
What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done for fashion?
Lately, I’ve learned about proportions for body sizes; I’m five foot two, so I’m pretty petite. Before the show I was like, “This is what I’ll wear; this is what I won’t wear,” but now I’m more willing to try different silhouettes and mix patterns. I think it was just a [matter of] letting my walls down a little bit. My motto now is, “People will either love it or they’ll hate it,” and you have to give them that chance.
You’ve expressed an interest in playing Anastasia in the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Are there any lines you wouldn’t cross as an actress?
I think people often forget that I’m 23 because I play a 17-year-old on TV, and I look significantly younger than my age. I think the transition for me becoming an adult actress – there’s a fine line and it’s gradual. It has to be the right role, the right material, and it has to come across as appropriate and not over the top or forced. I haven’t come to that crossroads yet, but I think when it happens it has to be thought through. But if you’re referring to that movie, or that book, I’d push the envelope a little. There are definitely things I’d do that would surprise people – I’ll say that.
And if you could choose your Christian Grey?
Hmm…Oh, man [thinks for a while]. Ryan Gosling is pretty good. But I’m sure whoever they cast will be amazing and will be chosen for the right reasons, so I’m very curious to see who they pick.
PHOTOGRAPHY / BLEACHER + EVERARD, UNALI ARTISTS
STYLING / SOPHIA BANKS-COLOMA
HAIR / KRISTIN ESS
MAKE-UP / JEFFREY PAUL, EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS, USING NARS
MANICURE / NETTIE DAVIS, THE WALL GROUP
LOCATION / LOS ANGELES