Spoiler alert: This article contains minor spoilers for Season 2, Episode 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty.
Season 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty is officially here, but one of its beloved characters is absent: Shayla (Minnie Mills). The teen was created for the hit Prime Video series, playing a pivotal role in Belly's (Lola Tung) life while also acting as Steven's (Sean Kaufman) love interest for the summer.
Well, what happened? Why did Minnie Mills leave The Summer I Turned Pretty? Read on for all the details. Plus, stick around to find out how the wildly popular show wrote off her character, Shayla.
Why did Minnie Mills leave 'The Summer I Turned Pretty'?
In April 2023, Minnie Mills announced she would not reprise her role as Shayla in Season 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty. The reason for her exit is unknown, but she shared a touching tribute to the experience on Instagram.
"First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Shayla," she wrote. "Playing Shayla was such a privilege, she taught me so much and helped me grow not only as an actor but as a person. To be able to portray a piece of the representation I’ve always wanted to see on screen was a dream come true and meant the world to me."
"In an industry — and especially genre — where women of color are constantly defined by white men, and [Asian] characters are often portrayed as meek and invisible until seen by a white counterpart, Shayla was unapologetically herself. She took up space, she was confident, kind, and compassionate: A fully fleshed, powerful woman all on her own," Minnie explained.
The up-and-coming actress added, "She didn't need to prove that to anyone, she did not need a white boy to deem her worthy, she didn't have to grapple with her identity in order to be beautiful or the 'it' girl. Being Asian was simply part of who she was, not an obstacle to who she wanted to be."
"Shayla and Steven's love story will always mean so much to me," Minnie penned. "To see two Asian characters in a healthy loving relationship, communicating with and understanding one another through their issues was huge, and something I really hope we get to see more of. Building their story and love for one another, and creating their relationship with one of my favorite humans was truly such a gift that I will always cherish.
The message went on, "To everyone who loved Shayla, who felt empowered or inspired by her, she will always be in the first season for you to come back to whenever you need her, and if I ever get the chance, I would love to continue her story. Thank you for supporting her, and thank you for supporting me. I could not have asked for a better cast, crew, or character for my first acting role, and I cannot wait to see what's next #stevenandshaylaforever."
Season 2 of 'The Summer I Turned Pretty' addresses Shayla's absence.
Belly and Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) finally arrive at Cousins Beach in Episode 2, titled "Love Scene," where they run into Conrad's (Christopher Briney) ex-girlfriend, Nicole (Summer Madison). She and Belly have a brief conversation in which Nicole reveals Shayna won't be around this summer because she's traveling around Europe with her parents.
New episodes of The Summer I Turned Pretty drop Fridays, only on Prime Video.