Lucy Hale is gearing up for her debut as Katy Keene in the upcoming Riverdale spinoff series on the CW. But the actress best known for her role as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars refuses to use her busy schedule as an excuse to not speak out about important issues.
In fact, the 30-year-old, who has been acting for half of her life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that using her platform to bring awareness to causes and conversations that she cares about is vital.
“I was like, ‘Woah people are watching,’” Hale says of her realization that she had a significant platform once PLL aired in 2010. “It was right when Instagram was getting big too and I was like, ‘Well people are really watching everything we’re doing and saying.’”
The actress quickly adopted the mantra “a lot is given, a lot is expected,” recognizing her passion for entertaining while having to acknowledge the power of her voice. Ultimately, she decided to act on that power, although voicing her opinion to her over 31 million combined social media followers isn’t always easy.
“People are taking notice and I want to make a mark in a world that’s bigger than just myself,” she says. “And so that’s the double-edged sword with social media, right?”
In the past couple of years, Hale has used her social media to voice the need for gun control in America, shed light on issues with immigration and even speak out against anti-LGBTQ bills in her home state of Tennessee. Most recently, she’s urging women to become more knowledgable about their reproductive rights and how they can take control of them by learning about different options of birth control. She’s even opened up about her decision to use an intrauterine device (IUD) called Kyleena while teaming up with Bayer.
“I’m just a supporter of women and our bodies. But especially right now when we’re almost going backwards for women and it’s a scary time,” Hale says of being outspoken on the topic of women’s health care. “I think that the more people are having these conversations and the more women are standing up for themselves, I think that that’s how we stand our ground and that’s how we keep moving forward as a society.”
Hale has long been exposed to these health-related conversations because her mother is a labor and delivery nurse. But even beyond that, Hale says she feels “lucky” for being able to take part in conversations about politics and policies since she was young, and for being encouraged to have her own opinion.
“I always felt very grateful and blessed that no matter what my mom or dad thought, I was Lucy and I could make my own decisions and I could vote for whoever I want to, etc.,” she explains. “I know that that’s not always the case but that’s the world we live in. Everyone’s got an option, that’s why it’s important to arm yourself with all the information that’s available and then we still have that right as a human being to make these decisions for ourselves. And I think that that’s really empowering and amazing.”
Now, Hale hopes that the fans who have grown and evolved with her over the years will do what it takes to obtain the knowledge that makes them feel most empowered. And if they don’t agree with her, she’s fine with that too.
“You can’t make everyone happy. I’ve learned that, especially in the world of social media, people will nitpick you apart until you’re left with nothing,” she says. “So I just have to be able to sleep at night and if I feel like I’m doing what feels right for me and what feels authentic for me, then, like, the rest will follow.”
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