Lucy Hale's role on the wildly popular Pretty Little Liars has endeared her to millions of viewers, and not just the tween and teen sets, either. Grown women are unabashedly proclaiming their PLL fandom these days (including, as it were, us).
But with the release of her debut country album, Road Between, Hale is creating quite a buzz outside of the latest Aria-Ezra story line. This girl's got some pipes — a facet of her talents many of us weren't aware existed.
As it turns out, though, it is singing that actually drew Hale to the entertainment world.
"It kind of came as a surprise to me," she admitted about her success in the acting arena. "Because music was just always my thing. It's all I ever did as a kid — it was all I was ever really good at. And that's what I wanted to do as a career."
Acting wasn't on Hale's radar until a family friend suggested she give it a try. She was dubious but, as she is with most things, open-minded. So, she started auditioning.
"First audition I ever did was for Hannah Montana, believe it or not… I was 15, and it was a couple of years before they had found Miley, so the show was around for a while," she revealed.
As she began branching out and auditioning for different types of parts, music was always in the picture, says Hale. "I didn't know which one was going to take off first, but I was like, 'This is so fun! I'm living the dream. I'm just super-creative doing both of these things,' and it just so happened that acting took off first."
After a couple of guest spots on hit shows like The O.C. and How I Met Your Mother, Hale got her big break when she landed a starring role on PLL — which, now in its fifth season, was recently picked up for two more.
Obviously, the show has catapulted Hale's acting career, but it also played a huge part in Road Between becoming a reality.
"It's because of the success of the show that I was allowed to come back to my first love, which was music," explained Hale, who is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. "I don't know if I'd be sitting here talking about an album if it weren't for the show. So, I'm very lucky."
Suffice to say, though, luck didn't have everything to do with Hale's success. The Tennessee native is a notoriously hard worker.
In 2003, she appeared on the reality competition American Juniors, becoming one of five winners. Encouraged by the victory, then 15-year-old Hale and her mom moved to Los Angeles in the hopes that Hale might land a record deal.
In short, she simply wouldn't take no for an answer. "I just always knew in one way or another I was going to be doing music or I was going to perform," she told us. "And that's cool — I never had a plan B."
It's a mentality she can't imagine not having. "I'm a dreamer. I think there are people that are realists and there are people that are dreamers, and I've just always been like that," she shared.
"I think that's how people should always live their life, no matter what they're doing. Just, if you put it out there, it will happen," she said, adding, "I mean, dream big. Why else are we here? You've gotta dream big."
She should know. Hale was fresh from checking a major item off of her bucket list.
"I always say I'm a firm believer in dreams coming true," she gushed. "My biggest dream of my life happened two days ago: I sang at the Opry. And there was never a thought of it not happening."
She's clearly come a long way since her days as a little girl singing Disney songs and, later, "looking miserable" and being "scared to death" singing for the first time onstage.
Now, all these years later, she battled through those same nerves "times 100" to perform on the iconic country platform of the Grand Ole Opry. And not only did she get to perform at the iconic venue, but she got to film the music video for her single "Lie a Little Better" there, to boot.
"[It was a] completely different experience, because there was no one there," she explained. "And sort of the whole concept is me sound-checking and rehearsing, and just really raw and real and me… hanging out with the band and jamming with the band, and in my dressing room. So I got to stand on that stage for about 12 hours straight. It was pretty crazy."
While touring still sits at the top of her bucket list waiting to be checked off, Hale is still too busy reeling from her Opry experience to dwell on it just yet.
"I literally thought I was going to throw up, but the second I walked out there, it all went away," she said. "And I wouldn't have changed anything about it. It was perfect. It was hands-down the coolest moment of my life. Like, nothing comes close."
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