Troian Bellisario is a true inspiration. Sure, we love how cunning and smart she is as Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars, but in real life, Troian is even cooler. She’s gorgeous, smart, and incredibly well-rounded — especially for someone who grew up in the entertainment industry.

In case you didn’t know, Troian’s father, Donald Bellisario, is a television producer and screenwriter who created the TV series Magnum, P.I., Quantum Leap, JAG, and NCIS. But growing up in the industry didn’t turn Troian into a privileged brat. In fact, her industry family keeps her humble.

“My family, they keep me so humble, especially my father,” Troian told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan on Monday’s LIVE with Kelly & Michael. “When we go to dinner, and I’m like, ‘Hey dad, we have five million viewers!’ and he’s like, ‘That’s nice. I have 11 [million].’ And you’re like, ‘OK, yeah, got to keep working at it.’”

Of course, growing up with a successful Hollywood dad means you get plenty of industry advice. “The best advice he always gave me was, ‘Look, if you’re very lucky, you’ll get a job like the one that I have, and you will be taken care of for as long as that show runs, but you have to dictate the terms of your career. What Hollywood does, and what the entertainment industry loves to do, is categorize… you have to create your own opportunities.’”

And Troian took her father’s words to heart when she wrote, produced, and starred in her first short film, Exiles, late last year. Exiles is “a brutal and atmospheric addendum to the greatest love story of all time” — aka Romeo & Juliet. It imagines the story, set in contemporary times, as if Romeo and Juliet were able to run away together. And, it asks the question: would their love survive? Troian not only wrote and produced the short, but she also gave an intensely raw and beautiful performance as a young girl trying to make sense of love, life, and isolation. You can watch Exiles in its entirety, below.


As for her day job on Pretty Little Liars, well, Troian told Kelly and Michael that if she were in Spencer’s shoes, it would be a very different show. “How much can these girls handle? They were walking in there, fearlessly, with a hammer and a field hockey stick, and we’re like, ‘This is her top… oh no, we’re too late.’ I’d be in a van, out of there! I’d be, like, ‘Let’s go watch a movie! Let’s chill out.”

Seeing how Spencer doesn’t know how to chill out, we don’t think that plan would go over well with the Liars.

Watch Troian’s interview on Kelly & Michael below.


Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things Pretty Little Liars. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!