From the archives: Our pre-PLL Ashley Benson interview

Ashley Benson, left, with Shay Mitchell, Troian Bellisario and Lucy Hale on ABC Family's Pretty LIttle Liars. (ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom)

Ashley Benson, left, with Shay Mitchell, Troian Bellisario and Lucy Hale on ABC Family’s Pretty LIttle Liars.
(ABC Family/Ron Tom)

Pretty Little Liars was just playing on the TV in our house, which made me think back to an interview I did around 2006 or 2007 with Ashley Benson. You probably know her best as Hanna from PLL, but she’s been in a bunch of other shows and movies, including the one where I first saw her, 13 Going on 30.

I interviewed Ashley when I was working on a book about what it’s like to be famous. Here’s what she had to say in her mid-teens, well into her acting career but before she became a TV superstar.

Tim O’Shei, LSY founder

What did you like about being in front of the camera?

Ashley: I just thought it was a lot of fun. When I was little I did tons of Mattel commercials so I was always with Barbies or different toys and I loved just playing around with them and being with other people. Just being able to shoot with kids my age, I thought it was a lot of fun. Now, I love playing a different character, I think it’s a lot of fun because on the soap opera (Ashley was part of the Days of our Lives cast at the time) you do things that nobody would ever do in real life. It’s a challenge. 

Do you find that other kids or even adults treat you differently?
Yeah, I mean some of my old friends at school treat me kind of differently. A lot of them that were mean kind of try to suck up to me. They want to take me places with them so hopefully I’ll get noticed with them, which is ridiculous.

Ashley Benson stars as Hanna Marin on ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars." (ABC FAMILY/ANDREW ECCLES)

Ashley Benson stars as Hanna Marin on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. (ABC Family/Andrew Eccles)

When people meet you for the first time, how do they react?

Ashley: If some of my friends who I’m going to hang out with have other people who might know what I do, it’s really awkward because they don’t really say anything. They just get so nervous to say anything.

How do you handle that reaction?

Ashley: I just ask like what they like to do for fun or different stuff, because it’s just awkward if you’re just standing there for like 20 minutes not saying anything. If they want to know (about my job), I guess I would (talk about it). I don’t really like talking about it because everybody just looks at you differently. If I don’t really know people that well – if they don’t know what I do – I don’t bring it up. If they know what I do, if they ask I’ll talk about it but other than that I don’t really like to talk about it.

What are some of the ups and downs of the business?

Ashley: When I first started out, I’d go on tons of auditions. I’d book jobs here and there, but I was rejected a lot in the beginning. And that’s one thing in the business that you have to get over, because you’re going to go through that a lot. A lot of people, if they don’t get a certain job, they’ll be like “I’m just going to quit and find a different thing to do because I’m not getting anything.” It takes a lot of time to get something because there are so many people competing for the same role.

Anything you do to keep yourself motivated?

Ashley: I just tell myself that I’m going to get noticed. I never really put negative thoughts in my head because if I keep on doing that then I’m just not going to want to do it anymore. I basically just say that, “I didn’t get that one, but there’s a reason for that so I’ll get another one soon.”

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