Lindsey Shaw revealed her personal life was the reason behind her Pretty Little Liars character Paige McCullers’ departure from the hit series.
“I got basically let go from Pretty Little Liars in season 5 because of the weight that I had lost, and it was really an embarrassing thing,” the 34-year-old actress shared on the Wednesday, July 5, episode of the “Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide” podcast. “I didn’t look good too skinny and then, you know, then when I started to put the weight back on, I couldn’t handle it being too heavy, so it kind of played into this dumb cycle.”
Shaw starred as one of the love interests of Shay Mitchell’s Emily Fields on the teen drama, which ran for seven seasons on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) from 2010 to 2017. Though Paige departed the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, after the show’s fifth season, she later returned for a handful of season 7 episodes.
The Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide alum went on to explain that her body image issues coincided with drug use struggles. “When I had my drug problem and I was in between working on stuff, you know, I would never have to address my relationship with food because I was always like, ‘Oh, I could always just go get more Adderall,’” she told her podcast cohosts Devon Werkheiser and Daniel Curtis Lee.
Shaw says she was informed of her PLL exit during a meeting with show creator I. Marlene King, a decision that was made with her well-being in mind. “[I. Marlene was] like, ‘It’s not because your acting,’ she’s like, ‘But do you have anybody to talk to?’ And I was like, ‘Um, no.’ And she’s like, ‘We’ll find somebody, and we have to let you go for now,’” she tearfully recalled. “It was really sweet because they brought me back in season 7, and it was so lovely of that writing team to see that relationship and that character out. But I was — that was rough.”
The former Nickelodeon star even noted that Mitchell, 36, would bring her protein power during the difficult time as they went to the same nutritionist. “I just gave away everything I cared about, and I just don’t know that I’ve ever gotten back to the point in my career that I was [at] before that talk, that meeting or that whole season of using,” Shaw stated.
Nowadays, Shaw said she’s in a “much happier” place than she was at the time of her PLL exit and is happy to see the landscape surrounding body image in entertainment change. “There are things I enjoy so much about my body now that I can’t put words to, even though, like, before, it was traditionally a little bit more thin or what it should be or whatever looks good camera so that any angle looks good on you.”
Prior to launching her Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide rewatch podcast with Werkheiser, 32, and Lee, 32, in February, Shaw was back in the spotlight as she received backlash after allegedly mocking a dance trend popularized by Black creators on TikTok. “Hey, are we OK? What the f—k is this?” she captioned a since-deleted video of the dance trend via her TikTok page, according to Entertainment Tonight, before deleting her account in June 2021.
Shaw later apologized for her comments via her Instagram Stories. “I did not mean anything in any kind of way,” she explained in a June 2021 video. “I am learning every day as I think everybody is. And this kind of hate just needs to evaporate from the planet no matter who it’s directed toward. Crocodile tears, no dude! This is my soul out there.”
Werkheiser defended his former costar in a video of his own, stating, “If you know Lindsey personally, you know she’s a hater on all sorts of things — Black, white, brown, popular, unpopular — and can be a reactionary and defensive person. But she’s also got a good heart and is dealing with personal issues and challenges that none of you know anything about.”