PLL's Keegan Allen feels empowered by Shay Mitchell's story line
While Pretty Little Liars fans may not find out who A is on this week's episode, Tuesday will undoubtedly delight "Little Liars" in another way: It's the day actor Keegan Allen's debut book, life.love.beauty drops.
Allen, whom we all know (and adore) as Toby on Liars, shares a side of himself in the book new to most of us — intensely creative, inherently expressive, lyrical and abstract.
But, in truth, Allen has been an artistic and introspective soul for much of his life.
He was given his first camera at age 9, which sparked a lifelong study and love of the art of photography. "Before I started my formal training as an actor, I was pretty obsessed with the idea of capturing moments and images that impacted me," he said.
And, speaking of that fan base, Little Liars won't be disappointed — the selection of photos in life.love.beauty won't feel entirely foreign to them.
"I have a lot of various pictures of my costars on and off sets, of different productions, different situations... so there are definitely pictures of people that people know, let's just say that," he said.
How he really feels about his female costars
On the subject of costars, Allen isn't shy about the respect he has for his on Pretty Little Liars — he is surrounded by a cast of tenacious female characters (and the women who play them).
And he wouldn't have it any other way. "I love alpha females. My friends that are girls are all alpha females," he revealed.
"I've always thought — truthfully, even as a kid — like, I know women are smarter than me," he continued, laughing. "And so many times, I've stepped back and said, 'I don't know what to think right now... I'm going to let the woman handle everything.' You know, I'll stand back."
He's also quick to point out that, in addition to the many alpha females on the show, PLL breaks ground in another very profound way.
"Shay Mitchell's character, Emily, went through a prepubescent story line of her being gay, and our audience really understands that struggle," he told us. "Teens today are living in a wonderful generation in which so many things are accepted that weren't before, and it's wonderful."
It's only natural, he says, that the show has such an effect.
"I think the show has definitely helped a lot of teenagers — and a lot of people in general — in that position of understanding that who you love and how you choose to love should be celebrated, and I think that's great," he said.
It's one of the things, he asserts, that he finds most rewarding about being a party to Pretty Little Liars.
"I think it's great, and it's definitely empowering to be a part of that," he said, "and be part of a show that has a movement like that."
How being a mama's boy helped shape him
Allen's costars aren't the only strong females central to his life, though. His own childhood — and, subsequently, the creative choices he's made in his career— was largely informed by the two people closest to him: his parents.
In fact, Allen is admittedly a total mama's boy.
"My mom is definitely one of my closest friends," he said. "She's just very bright and lovely and youthful, too. She battled breast cancer and is in remission now and is just really a strong-willed person."
Of all the traits he's picked up from his parents, he's particularly grateful to his mother for imparting upon him a bit of optimism. "I do think I venture into the darkness a lot in my writing and in my photography... and in the craft," he said. "You sometimes get sucked into those characters a little bit too far, so my mom has always been just wonderful in kind of pulling me out of those dark places."
She's also apparently pretty good at imparting romantic advice — something poor Toby could have used on Pretty Little Liars more than once.
"Everything should be fun," Allen said his parents advised him. "When you're younger, everything should be fun. When it stops being fun, then that's that. And I've kind of lived by that."
Sure, it might come off with a bit of a bite, but how many of us could have benefited from that kind of no-nonsense advice to dating? Potentially, it could have saved us from one too many nights crying into our wine coolers.
"Even though relationships are about compromise, my mom has always made it really clear to me that you can trust somebody until you can't," said Allen, adding that although he's been through several heartbreaks, "I definitely had my mom around for most of that, and her advice and counsel has always been bright and rejuvenating."