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EXCLUSIVE! Shay Rudolph opens up on *all* the biggest life lessons she's learned this year

When The Baby-Sitters Club premiered on Netflix last summer, Shay Rudolph's entire world changed. Suddenly, the 15-year-old actress, who plays Stacey McGill in the beloved series, had new friends, new followers and new opportunities (remember her amaze GL cover with her BSC co-stars and IRL besties?). 

But, of course, starring in a Netflix show is (somehow) not the biggest change in Shay's life. Like all of us, Shay's spent the last year spending more time alone than ever, making exciting and unexpected connections and discovering who she is. That's why we had to catch up with this lo-fi, introspective, stylish and thoughtful rising star about all the major life lessons on her mind...

On finding a following after the show...

"It was really out of nowhere, and a bit overwhelming at first. Honestly, I think it was a blessing in disguise being stuck at home then. I think that going from nothing to everything—traveling, publicity, live TV—would have been a lot, but we were all able to be there for each other as a cast. We'd text, do Zoom interviews and check in and make sure everyone was alright. I think that genuinely being myself, posting what makes me happy and interacting with my followers in the comments, reposting their edits and responding to DMs just keeps me more grounded. It's been really cool." 

On her (many) passions...

"At the moment, of course, acting. I'd love to keep acting after high school or go to school for art or film. Anything super creative. I've also started doing some creative writing on my own. And I love music. I've been playing piano since I was seven, and I started guitar a little over a year ago. It's so fun and a good outlet." 

On friendship...

"I've always been introverted. I definitely still like hanging out with friends and being social, but I prefer smaller groups to huge parties. I don't like to be alone all the time, but I *do* like my own company. It's super hard to find people to feel comfortable around, but once you do, it's like, 'This is so much better than having to put on a fake persona to please others.' I'm a big people pleaser—I want my friends to be happy, but it's just so nice when you can be your natural self around others. I'm a pretty bubbly person and sometimes overeager when I first meet someone, but when I'm really comfortable, it's so nice to not have to do that. You can just be quiet and mellow and share your interests and exist together. Kindness and a sense of humor are all really important in looking for friends, too. And I love to have really nurturing relationships where we can give each other advice."

On enjoying yourself...

"During quarantine, I stopped being friends with some people, and I also made some new amazing friendships. But no matter the ups and downs you go through with others, try to be happy with who you are. That's the person you're going to be with your entire life. I've spent so much time this year just reading or sitting outside on my own. Just literally doing nothing, and it's incredible. I've spent so much of this year actually getting to know who I am and becoming more comfortable with that. Just focus on that." 

On how she's changed the most this year...

"I think a year ago I was more dependent on my friends for happiness. I was worried about keeping the people around me happy more than making myself happy. I worried about what other people thought a lot—what I was wearing, how I did my hair, all those kind of superficial things. I realized that it's more important to make sure you like what you're doing and who you are on the inside. I can sense that I'm in a better place to build strong relationships with people because I've built that loving relationship with myself. That's the starting point for everything." 

Read Shay's GL essay: "Secretly loved social distancing? You're not alone" 


SHAY'S SMALL SECRETS
Acting role models:
"Elle Fanning and Emma Watson."
Newfound passion: "Vegan fashion. Malia [Baker] is very passionate about animal welfare and using cruelty-free products, and that got me invested. Everyone should learn more about it and try to make those shifts if they can."
Future fun: "I'm really looking forward to having picnics this spring as it gets warmer and sunnier. You can bring a friend or just read on your own."
Self-care recs: "Baths. Meditation. And having creative outlets! I like painting and music. Don't force yourself to do things that don't work for you—find what makes you happy."
Fave snack: "Watermelon, always!" 


Find extra exclusives from Shay's interview on our TikTok @girlslifemag!

Images: instagram.com/shayrudolph

by Katherine Hammer | 3/24/2021
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