"I was not the popular girl at all," Janel Parrish recalled

By Karen Mizoguchi
October 08, 2018 07:17 PM
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Janel Parrish is recalling her painful high school years and urging fans to #ChooseKindness.

The Pretty Little Liars alum opened up about her younger years as a student as part of an anti-bullying PSA for Disney/ABC’s #ChooseKindness campaign with her Perfectionists costar Sasha Pieterse for National Bullying Prevention Month.

“I have had experiences being bullied. For me, it was definitely high school. I was not the popular girl at all,” Parrish, 29, said in a PEOPLE exclusive video. “Being a very theatrical girl who always wanted to do musical theatre after school instead of hang out with the cool kids and go to the mall. And that made me different so I definitely got made fun of a lot, called names.”

Despite being bullied, Parrish, who attended high school in Hawaii and was later homeschooled, encouraged her fans and followers to believe in their unique talents — just like she did.

“But ultimately, end of the day, I think what made me different is what makes me special. I embraced it and I’m really glad that I did,” she said.

“Being called names, having people make you feel like you are less than in any way is so demeaning and it just makes you feel so self-conscious all the time,” the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before star recalled.

Janel Parrish

The star expressed gratitude for her family for being a support system when she needed them the most.

“My family was my rock during this time when I was being bullied. I think it’s so important to have people in your life who make you feel amazing, like you are everything that you should be and that who you are is enough,” she said.

The Pretty Little Liars spinoff, The Perfectionists, premieres on Freeform in 2019.