From majoring in Biomedical Neuroscience to starring in The Summer I Turned Pretty, we get an insight into the life of a Gen-Z breakout talent.

minni mills
minni mills

There are few that can juggle a double major in Biomedical Neuroscience and Behavioural Neuroscience whilst also becoming Gen-Z’s breakout actor. Then again, Minnie Mills is not your average 20-year-old. With a role tailor-made just for her in the widely-acclaimed romance series The Summer I Turned Pretty, Minnie Mills has quickly positioned herself as one to watch as her authentic-yet-relatable approach to her craft wins over the hearts of audiences worldwide.

Starring as the series’ popular ‘it girl’ Shayla, Minnie Mills subverts all stereotypes of her character trope — she’s fiercely confident but humble, affluent yet empathetic and despite her circumstances, addictively relatable. But why, you may be wondering, do you not remember her from the muse of the show — the book series by Jenny Han? Invented exclusively for the televised series, Shayla was imagined entirely for Minnie, taking her early career as a model for the likes of Nike and Tommy Hilfiger and reflecting it into Shayla’s all-too enviable wardrobe.

And while Minnie still stands as a character all of her own, she adopts much of Shayla’s qualities in her insatiable desire to help others. Working on projects with the UN to develop educational applications to help children in refugee communities around the world, Minnie has catapulted herself far beyond her years — becoming a multifaceted starlet with as much heart as she has talent.

To celebrate the premiere of The Summer I Turned Pretty which was awarded unwavering praise following its premiere on June 17th, we sat with the budding actor to discuss her experience on set, her studies and what is next to come.

Scroll below to watch the trailer and read the full interview now…

Minnie mills
Minnie mills

Hey Minnie, how are you? Where are we speaking to you from right now?
Hi! I’m in NYC and it’s sunny right now, so I am pretty good.

How did you get into acting? Has this always been the goal?
Acting has always been my dream, but it always seemed so far off and I was very focused on school and academics. During the pandemic, I was going to college remotely, so I started sending in self-tapes for auditions in my free time. I got a call one day that I booked The Summer I Turned Pretty and the rest is history!

The Summer I Turned Pretty has some serious hype around it. Tell us a little bit about how you’re feeling about its release!
It’s all so crazy! The cast and crew felt like such a family that before it came out, the show in my mind felt like a little project my friends and I made for fun over the summer. Of course, we knew the books had such a huge fan base and there were people excited to see the series, but it’s still wild to see how many people are loving the show and the impact it’s having.

Talk us through the filming process! Was it tough at times?
Filming this show was the best and most rewarding experience of my life. Getting to wake up every day and do what you love with the people you love is such a blessing. It was definitely tough at times and there were some long days and nights, but whether I was waking up at 3am or going home at 7am after a night shoot, I was just so happy and grateful to be there.

You play Shayla! Tell us what you did to prepare to step into her shoes! Do you think you share any similarities with her?
I truly love Shayla so much. Every part of Shayla’s look is so intentional, and there would truly be no Shayla without the incredible work of Jess Flaherty (our costume designer) and Tara Sall (my makeup artist). Jess curated every part of Shayla’s look from the outfit down to the accessories, and stepping into the clothes at the beginning of each day was like putting on Shayla’s armour. It helped me channel that individuality and confidence that Shayla radiates. I started every day with Tara in the makeup trailer and we always said that once she put on that iconic winged eyeliner that was the “moment” I went from regular ol’ Minnie to Shayla. In terms of similarities, I think Shayla and I both care deeply about the people in our lives and try to treat everyone with kindness and empathy.

Minnie Mills
Minnie Mills

Your character wasn’t originally in the book series. How did it feel knowing that the character was created specifically for you after Jenny Han saw you audition for another role?
It is still so surreal to me, and I am so honoured to have been trusted to help create Shayla and bring her to life. She was a blank slate and the creators were so open to collaboration and really let me find myself in Shayla and make her my own. For example, when I did my initial read for Shayla, I originally used an American accent, and after I got to set and got to know the creators better, they suggested I use my natural accent, bringing my nomadic multi-cultural upbringing to the character’s backstory. Plus they said it made me seem even more out of Steven’s league ha.

And, Taylor Swift debuted her song “This Love” in the series! Are you a big Taylor Swift fan?
I had heard her hit songs here and there, but never listened to much Taylor until the show. After The Summer I Turned Pretty however, I dove head first into her discography and would definitely consider myself a Swiftie. I even have a playlist called “blondie” on Spotify dedicated to her music!

How do you find balancing majoring in Biomedical Neuroscience and Behavioural Neuroscience alongside an evolving acting career?
It’s definitely a balance I’m still trying to find. I am deeply passionate about both, and I think that’s what makes it work at the end of the day, because the things you love are always worth the challenges. Both of these passions also inform and enrich each other in so many ways. I don’t think I would be the actor I am without the questions my degree has forced me to ask about people and their motivations.

You’ve also been involved with UN projects helping to develop educational applications to help children in refugee communities around the world. What has this taught you?
My time at Enuma deepened my sense of responsibility as a global citizen. I am where I am in life because of the opportunities I have been afforded, and I think there are so many children out there with incredible potential and ability who deserve the resources and attention to fulfil whatever goals and to have whatever dreams they desire. So many issues begin with the broken education system, and my hope is to help create widespread access to education that caters to and supports all children. To provide the next generation with the resources and power they need to create the change that they want to see in the world, because there is no one better to inform and aid in change than the people who understand the issue intimately.

What do you hope people watching the show will take away from it?
I hope that people will take away that there is no right way to be a young adult. Growing up is fun and exciting and hard and cruel, and everyone is bound to make mistakes, and there is no right way to go about it. Life is about figuring things out and finding yourself along the way.

Aside from the above, what else are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to going back to school this fall and hopefully working more and taking on new roles!

Minnie Mills
Minnie Mills
Emily Sandifer
Amanda Lim
Derek Yuen
Mai Quỳnh
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