Interact with Janel Parrish on Twitter: @JMeilanixo
"I read the script and saw the hype behind the books and said to myself, 'This is going to be huge,'" the 23-year-old actress, who comes to Charleston Town Center Mall on Aug. 18 for a fan meet-and-greet, said.
Parrish, who is also a singer-songwriter, initially auditioned for the role of Spencer, one of the four main girls. She said because of the quality of the script and her gut feeling of the show's success, she was disappointed when she thought she wasn't going to be part of it. That changed, though, a few months later, when she was called back to audition for the supporting role of Mona, which she got.
When Parrish first began the audition process, she hadn't read Sara Shepard's book series that the show is based on. She began reading to familiarize herself with the story.
"I read the books to get familiar and ended up falling in love with them," said the Hawaiian native, adding that the first one, "Pretty Little Liars," is her favorite. (There are currently 12, with another due in December.)
"I really liked it. It's a good introduction to the story, and it sets up the characters really well."
Those characters include the core group of Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Hanna (Ashley Benson), four young women who were once best friends but drifted apart after their clique's leader, Alison, disappeared.
A year later, which is when the show begins, they're reunited in a most unexpected way -- they start getting text messages from "A," who threatens to expose their darkest secrets. At first, they think it's Alison ... but then her body is found. And the text messages continue.
Parrish's Mona is Hanna's friend. The actress said that when Mona was younger, she was bullied by the clique. Mona and Hanna transformed themselves, though, into the most popular girls at school.
"I can relate to certain aspects [of Mona], like the vulnerability she used to have," Parrish said. "I think every girl in high school at some point can relate to trying to fit in and pleasing their peers."