Minnie Mills

On playing Shayla and drawing from her confidence


Photo: Emily Sandifer @emilysandiferphoto

Fashion: Amanda Lim @itsamandalim

Makeup: Mai Quynh @storyofmailife

Hair: Derek Yuen @dereksyuen

On the The Summer I Turned Pretty, Minnie Mills plays Shayla—one of the debutantes on the show. She is badass, confident, and unapologetically herself. She turns heads and she knows it, so it's no surprise that Mills pulls off this role flawlessly. Though one of the last cast members to arrive at the premiere, we were fortunate to be able to catch her right before the show started. During our quick chat, it became evident that the boldness that made her casting perfect was also complemented by patience, compassion, and thoughtfulness in her answers and outlook in life.

Timid Magazine: Can you describe the show in three words?

Minnie Mills: Summer. Love. Change.

TM: What's your favorite moment between Shayla and Steven?

MM: My favorite Shayla and Steven moment is in the fourth episode when he goes to her house to apologize. Shayla is usually so confident and self-assured, and it's a moment where we get to see a different, very real, and very vulnerable side of her. I also think it's beautiful to see a couple be so open and honest about their insecurities and lean on each other to move forward together.

TM: Why do you think Shayla has such an affection for Steven?

MM: Shayla can see how earnest Steven is and how much he cares for her. There were a lot of scenes that didn't end up making the final cut where we got to see Steven and Shayla's backstory and how they grow together as people and find joy in each other's presence. They work well together because Shayla is so secure in herself that she doesn't need constant reassurance from Steven, so she can be there for him to soothe his anxieties. I feel like they just click and make each other happy even though they are so different, and I hope that chemistry comes across on screen.

TM: What are some of your favorite traits about Shayla?

MM: I love that Shayla is someone who cares deeply for her friends and the people around her, from helping Belly at the debutante tea to worrying about Nicole to forgiving Steven. One of my favorite things about Shayla is her confidence and comfort in her identity. Growing up Asian in predominantly white communities, I often felt unremarkable, but Shayla is the complete and total opposite of that. She commands attention wherever she goes, from the clothes she wears to the confidence she carries herself with. I am proud that people can see a character like her onscreen who doesn't have to struggle with feeling less than or has to hide in the shadows of a white counterpart.

TM: What's one thing you'd like to accomplish this summer?

MM: I'd love to write more and possibly share some of it with the world. Writing is definitely one of my loves besides acting, and I have been getting more confident about sharing my work, so I would love to get to the point where I can put something out there. Oh, and to make some headway on my endless reading list.


The Summer I Turned Pretty is now streaming on Prime Video.