Janel Parrish

Mark Hussman photo

Mark Hussman photo

If you haven’t yet seen Janel Parrish on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, you never would guess she’s currently on the ballot to win the Teen Choice Awards’ Choice TV Villain.

For most, it would be difficult to get past her friendly face and imagine her as someone capable of bad behavior. Fans of the show, however, certainly won’t be surprised.

In the series, currently in its fifth season, she plays Mona Vanderwaal. But for all her villainess tendencies, Parrish has given dimension to her role, portraying an emotional depth that continues to entrance viewers.

“She is a very complex character and ultimately just wants to protect herself,” says Parrish. “I just try to play with all the layers so that she isn’t just a villain.

“She’s a person, and everything she does, she does to survive.”

Her popularity on the show and with fans has earned Parrish the Choice TV Villain award for the past two years.

“It’s such an honor to be acknowledged for what I am so passionate about,” she says.

Parrish, who appeared on MidWeek‘s Jan. 9, 2013, cover, also has spent her time adding to an already impressive resume.

“I have a very exciting project coming up that I can’t speak about yet,” she teases.

Soon, Parrish can be seen on the big screen in High School Exorcism and is finishing up The Concerto alongside Jackson Rathbone. Since December, she also has been working with For The Record Productions in Los Angeles, Calif.

“(It) is an amazing live theater production, bringing famous directors’ works to life in a musical mashup,” she says.

On the horizon, Parrish, who also has a background in music, hopes to do a musical movie or TV show.

“Anything where I can bring music and acting together,” she says, adding that she also one day hopes to work with film director Baz Luhrmann.

A “Hawaii girl at heart,” Parrish, who grew up in Kaneohe, also says she is due for a trip home. During visits, Parrish says she enjoys spending time with her family, eating local food, going to the beach and driving to the North Shore, among other activities.

“I miss Hawaii a lot, but the main thing I miss is the aloha spirit,” she says. “It’s so special, and I haven’t found it anywhere else.”

This year’s Teen Choice Awards airs Sunday (Aug. 10) on FOX. Fans who would like to vote for Parrish to win Choice TV Villain may do so online at teenchoiceawards.com. Voters must be ages 13-19 and voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.