Keegan Allen, one of the stars of “Pretty Little Liars” on the Freeform channel (formerly ABC Family), will appear at the Southern Women’s Show in Raleigh next weekend, where he’ll greet fans of his Toby Cavanaugh character and talk about his photography book, “life.love.beauty.”
The “Pretty Little Liars” series will end this year, giving Allen more time to focus on photography, one of his early passions, as well as pursue other acting projects.
But the appearance in Raleigh gives him a chance to do something else he loves: connect with fans face to face.
“It’s really rewarding,” Allen said in a phone interview last week. “Interacting with fans feels so sterile on social media, so the (in-person) connection is meaningful.”
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Allen says he’ll do a Q&A at the show and will talk about “Pretty Little Liars” and his book. But he also will sign books or pamphlets – anything, really.
“I’ll sign everything,” he laughs. “I’ve even signed babies, which is really weird.”
Connecting with people isn’t just something Allen appreciates when meeting with fans. It’s a big part of “life.love.beauty” as well.
“In the book, I’m sharing pieces of my life that I hope plug into other people’s lives – to experience something, anything,” he says. “It’s about life and how we choose to live it – love, beauty and finding connections between people.”
Allen remembers the first photo he took when he was five years old: he was looking out of a window at the Los Angeles riots. It was just a few years later, around age eight or nine, when he says he became more attached to photography, finding everything about it appealing.
“My father had a Leica M6 and would take photos of the family,” Allen says. “Back then it was all film, and it seemed like such a romantic process. It would be a week before I could see the photos, and they were always more beautiful than I remembered. The lighting was different, and the moment was captured in a way that felt magical. It was a way to have control over memories.
“I borrowed my dad’s camera and never gave it back. I always liked sharing photos – and sharing myself – with the world around me.”
While Allen says he has always oscillated between photography, acting and his third love, music, when pressed for a favorite, Allen answers quickly: “I am first and foremost an actor” – another influence of his father, who is a stage actor. His mother is an impressionist painter.
“Being around my dad talking about Shakespeare and the idea of acting and connecting with an audience – it started from an academic place, wanting to understand themes and actors,” he says.
So in grammar school, Allen tried out for “Bye Bye Birdie” and won the role of Conrad Birdie, receiving rave reviews from his aunt and grandmother. That sealed it.
“Being on stage confirmed my love of being in front of people and talking to people. I’m an introvert but love being in front of people.”
As for his post-“PLL” life, Allen is working on another book, which he can’t say much about yet, and he appeared in the season finale of TNT’s “Major Crimes,” which aired this past week (his character owns the restaurant where Rusty’s boyfriend works as a chef).
But the best way to see Allen – and in person, to boot – is next Sunday in Raleigh. Be sure to take something for him to sign. Just, maybe not another human.
Southern Women’s Show
When: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, April 21; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, April 22; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, April 23.
Where: N.C. State Fairgrounds at the Jim Graham Building, Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
Cost: $10 in advance online or $8 at Walgreens; $12 at the door. $6 for ages 6-12; under 6 free with paying adult. A three-day wristband is $15 (available online).
To see Keegan Allen: Allen appears at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23, on the Fashion & Entertainment Stage. Fans can purchase a VIP experience with Allen for $50 on the show website (this includes one show ticket, a signed copy of his book, a private meet-and-greet, photo opportunity, signed photo, Southern Women’s Show bag and reserved seating during his Q&A).
Also at the show: Laurie Hernandez, Olympic gold medalist in the 2016 Summer Games and winner of “Dancing With the Stars” (Season 23); an Etsy Pavilion with local Etsy shops as well as craft classes on the Spotlight Stage; the Firefighter Fashion Show and the Fido Fashion Show; cosmetic consults, makeovers and giveaways from Belk’s team of experts; samples of North Carolina foods in the expanded Got to Be NC Pavilion in the Exposition Center.