The stunning transformation of Lucy Hale

Aria Montgomery. Many can tell you that Lucy Hale is the actress who plays this well-known character on Pretty Little Liars. But what about her life beyond the the show’s fictional town of Rosewood, PA? This was not Hale’s first role and it definitely won’t be her last. A talented actress and singer, the Memphis-native has a lot to bring to the table, along with a loyal fanbase reaching far beyond the addictive and fabulous Pretty Little Liars.

She is a star who brings her own style and confidence to everything she does. She’s taken on roles that have pushed her outside of her comfort zone, and has never been afraid to be real, discussing her own insecurities in life in many interviews. We can’t help but admire the young, 27-year-old and we always look forward to what she’s going to do next, whether related to acting or music. So let’s take a look at the transformation of Hale from young singer to ever-rising star.

She learned all about the acting ups and downs

Hale’s breakout role in Bionic Woman ended after nine episodes when the show was cancelled. The 19-year-old was disappointed but, mature beyond her years, she understood that these things happen. She shared with TV Guide during an interview, “It was such a bummer. It was my first show, and for that to be my first experience…was hard. I mostly felt bad for Michelle [Ryan], who worked her [butt] off every single day [as the series lead]. People were so mean about it. It just wasn’t meant to work out, I guess.”

But even with the disappointments, good things ended up following. Her next biggest roles came in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Privileged. A fan-favorite book, Hale played Alexis Bledel’s character’s sister in the second installment of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. And Hale was one of the stars featured in The CW’s Privileged. Considering these larger roles bulking up Hale’s acting resume, which was her favorite role so far? It may surprise you. She claims it’s her guest-starring role on How I Met Your Mother, playing Robin Scherbatsky’s (Cobie Smulders) younger sister.

After her big guest-starring moment in 2007, she did not easily forget the role and wasn’t afraid to share her hope for another opportunity to play the character. When asked by TV Guide in 2009 if she’d be back on the show, Hale said, “You know what? I’m really going for it, because outside of Privileged, that was the most favorite thing I’ve ever done. Keep your fingers crossed, because I sure am!” Hale – and – How I Met Your Mother? Sounds like the perfect combination, and an episode that needs revisiting ASAP.

When she learned how to lie

2010 was a big year for 21-year-old Hale. She officially began her role as Aria Montgomery on ABC Family’s (now Freeform’s) Pretty Little Liars. Now it’s impossible to think of any other star in that role, but it wasn’t a given she’d be playing the artistic character from the beginning. Hale spoke with The Examiner (via Wet Paint) about the audition process, saying, “I wasn’t sure which character I was going to play yet because I went out for Aria and Hanna. I ended up being more drawn to Aria because she’s sort of the different one of the group. She just does her own thing and has different interests. She’s an old soul, and knows what she wants. She just seems put together and she’s very fun to play.” Audiences loved Hale playing the wise-beyond-her-years student.

It doesn’t hurt that Hale was able to relate to her character as well. She told TV Guide, “Growing up I always felt like I was different from the girls my age because I had different interests and was thinking about different things. Aria’s like that too.” It’s not just Aria’s personality, but her style as well that makes her unique. So in 2010, who was Hale’s biggest style icon? It’s someone we can all approve of. She continued with The Examiner, “I love Kate Winslet. I think she’s just so classy. I feel like she’s gotten more and more beautiful as she’s gotten older, which hopefully that will happen for me. I just think she always looks so put together and natural.”

Playing a character so different from her

Even though Hale and her Pretty Little Liars’ character Aria share some similarities, it was actually their differences that made Hale want to take on the role. Not so much in personality, but in life circumstances. Speaking with Assignment X on this very topic, 22-year-old Hale said, “The only thing I’ve related to in Aria’s life is the divorce between her parents. That’s the only thing I can relate to mirroring my life and her life. But everything else, you sort of have to put yourself in the most similar place possible, because obviously, I’ve never had a [romantic] relationship with my teacher and I’ve never, thank God, experienced the death of a best friend and I’ve never been stalked by anyone. So you just have to imagine what it’s like to fill these girls’ shoes, because that’s definitely the hardest part, going through these situations that the girls are going through.”

So what helps Hale get into character? Wardrobe. She said, “I feel like what you wear depicts who you are, how you’re feeling that day – what you’re wearing depends on how you feel that day, and it definitely helps with the situation.” And aside from character development, Hale wanted to be a part of a show that was different and would make an impact. She said during the interview, “That was one of the things that made me want to sign on, because [before reading the script] I was like, ‘I don’t just want to do a show that’s just going to appear and not really make an impact.’ I feel that this show is unlike any other teen show out there and I feel like that’s why people are tuning in each week. It’s because it’s different from everything out there and we’re really pushing the limit.” In 2011 the show was an unstoppable hit that kept on slaying, bringing success to Hale and her fellow co-stars.

She struggled with body image in the past

With all of Hale’s career success by the age of 23, it’s hard to imagine she’d have faced many real struggles. But that was just what she opened up about in 2012 during an interview with Cosmopolitan (via The Huffington Post). She shared her past history with an eating disorder, saying, “I’ve never really talked about this, but I would go days without eating. Or maybe I’d have some fruit and then go to the gym for three hours. I knew I had a problem… It was a gradual process but I changed myself.”

Bravo to Hale for opening up about something so private and difficult. Just a year after the interview, Hale revealed even more with Self Magazine about the thoughts that would go through her head when she saw the paparazzi taking photos of her in her swimsuit. She said, “I was on the beach in Hawaii and there were paparazzi in the bushes. I don’t think anybody wants to be photographed in their bikini unless you’re like a Victoria’s Secret model. There’s always a little voice in my head that says, Suck it in a little more – but you know, I’m so comfortable with who I am, I’m just like, Screw it! Take pictures!” You go, girl. We could all learn a little lesson from Hale on being comfortable with who we are, and owning the moment.

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