Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs
The last seven years of Ashley Benson's life have, for the most part, been dedicated to her role as Hanna on Pretty Little Liars. But what happens when that all comes to an end?
Well, the 26-year-old actress has already started making some big plans.
Benson—who is partnering with Unilever and Feeding America, pledging to share a million meals to those in need—sat down with E! News and revealed she's feeling some mixed emotions about the end of PLL. On one hand, she knows she'll miss the cast and crew, but on the other hand, she's excited to find some time for herself and her various passions.
"I am just kind of taking a break right now with everything, you know?" she explained to us. "We worked so long for seven years, I kind of wanted to take a couple months off."
She said she plans to get back into the things she's always wanted to do. "Like working out, going back into ballet again, taking up photography and that kind of thing," she told us. "Just kind of rest my brain for a couple of months and then get back into the whole industry aspect of it all."
She's also planning to move to New York City, but she's already made it a point to make sure she comes back to Los Angeles enough to connect with her old cast mates.
"We're all super, super close so I always know that I'll be able to see them. [They're] a phone call away," she said. "I think what I am going to miss the most are the crew, who are so incredible, and every person who worked on the show has made such an impact on my life...They've been in my life for the last seven years and they're really, really important to. I am kind of leaving a family."
She continued, "It's hard! When you finish a show they obviously go on to do other TV shows and movies, and they're constantly moving and they're on so many different projects and I don't know if I'll ever be able to work with them again...[But] I'll always make an effort to be able to connect with them."
Though Benson has started planning for the future, she doesn't think the end of PLL will truly sink in until next year.
"I think when March comes around—because that's usually when we go back to filming—it'll be like, 'Oh great! We're going to go back to work!' And I'll be like, 'Oh wait, no, we're not filming anymore,'" she admitted. "I think that's going to be when it hits because we're always used to being on hiatus right now so I think it's going to hit sooner or later, but maybe in like a couple months. Right now it just feels like we're on hiatus."
Not to mention, she has the holidays to focus on as well as her partnership with Unilever and Feeding America—something she joined because she's "obsessed with kids" and has always cherished her time with family during this time of year.
She says her grandmother's breakfast on Christmas morning is one of her favorite family traditions.
"My grandma always makes the best breakfast on Christmas and I always look forward to it," she told us. "It's an incredible egg dish with tortillas and onions and peppers and cheese, all these different kinds of little things in a dish and its baked. And she always does these sticky buns and those are the most incredible things ever. All of us are literally obsessed with them, my whole family looks forward to them and I probably eat like, eight in one sitting."
This tradition is likely the inspiration behind Benson and Unilever's current project in which they're asking everyone to share a throwback photo—similar to the one of the actress above—at the table, either by themselves or with their family members, using the hashtag #ShareAMeal. For every photo, like, share and tag on a post with the hashtag, Unilever will donate a meal to someone in need.
For more information about participating in #ShareAMeal, click here.
—Reporting by Alli Rosenbloom