A girl named troian /159
Troian Bellisario isn’t your typical Southern California girl. Yes, she grew up across the street from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and sure, her dad is the creator of Magnum P.I. and the NCIS franchise, and right you’d be that she made her film debut at the age of three, but… well, fine, Troian (pronounced troy-in) is seemingly your prototypical Cali girl. That’s undeniable. But as for daisy dukes and bikinis on top... ? “My style is a little more punk rock,” she explains bluntly.
That’s the thing about Troian: like her name (which translates to “Woman of Troy”), she is filled with deeper meaning and has, at only 28, a career that already spans four decades. But back to M-K and Ashley Olsen, because we’re surely not going to dismiss that to a mere mention. Not only did the trio grow up as neighbours, they co-starred together in Billboard Dad in 1998. When asked the last time she saw the film, Bellisario chuckles, revealing, “I’ve made a point not to see it very recently.”
Though acting remained Bellisario’s passion during her teens, her parents stressed the importance of finishing her education. Naturally, she found a caveat in their plan. “I told my parents ‘you never told me I had to go to college for anything in particular, so I’m going to study acting,’ and they were, like, ‘fine, as long as you graduate.’ For me the very clear point was getting into theatre school and getting to devote all my time and energy to focus on my craft.”
And then came the tour de force that is Pretty Little Liars. The ABC Family original series cast Bellisario as overachiever Spencer Hastings, alongside relative newcomers – by now household names – including Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell. Pretty Little Liars is currently in production on its sixth season. “As the show is going to round up to a close in a few years, I want to be very careful not to project my desired input onto Spencer,” explains Bellisario. “I want to be careful not to express, ‘I think Spencer should end up moving to New York and becoming a rock star,’ – that’s my dream. It’s hard not to want to do it though, because as an actor you want to inject your truth into who you’re playing.” Observers of Spencer’s style on the show are quick to note the evolution from Ralph Lauren-esque prep to a bit more punk. “Spencer from the very beginning was very classic, very straight-laced prep which is something that I didn’t really wear. My greatest style icon of all time is Patti Smith – she’s my go-to for inspiration. Over the years, I’ve worked with our costume designer Mandi Line to evolve Spencer to become a bit more casual and rock ‘n’ roll, while still maintaining an ode to prep.”
Asked about her social media presence (she’s amassed a whopping 3.5 million Instagram followers and an additional 1.74 million on Twitter) and whether or not one can understand the power it wields in sharing words and images with a sea of anonymous people, Bellisario is thoughtful. “It’s kind of like driving a car and when you tap into the fact that everybody’s in giant, very fast moving, metal death traps and you are in one too… you can’t really tap into that. I am definitely very aware. I try not to put out things that are offensive. I have a lot of young people following me, which at times can feel a little restrictive. However it helps me keep in mind that I have to maintain the status of a role model.”
Bellisario also doesn’t hold back when it comes to casting a critical eye towards her celebrity peers’ existence in the social sphere. “I am not a fan of people who just post pictures of themselves,” she states. “What are [they] contributing and why would I want that in my space? Isn’t Instagram a really cool way that we get to occupy each other’s mind space for a little bit and see the way this person sees the world or what an amazing trip this person’s on or what a funny thing that person saw, rather than ‘this is what my face looks like,’ which you already know?”
No arguments here.