The now 27-year-old actress told Yahoo! Style she even ate her lunch in the bathroom to avoid the girls in the school who made it a point not to be nice to her.
"I knew back then that those girls were dealing with their own issues," she told the site. Shay, who has a Filipino mother and Irish-Scottish father, grew up in a predominately white area and had a hard time getting accepted by her peers because of her appearance.
"It was the first thing people noticed," she said. "They'd say, 'Are you the daughter of my nanny?' I hated being asked who I was, and all my friends had blond hair and blue eyes." So, Shay tried to conceal her ethnic looks, by dying her hair, wearing blue, green and gray contacts and staying out of the sun to make her skin as pale as possible.
"That girl," she said, "wanted to be something she wasn't." Eventually, she began to embrace her look and started to model professionally in Thailand and Hong Kong. Shay told Elle Canada back in 2013 she realized that because she "didn't look like anyone else," that was helping her get cast.
Now, Shay has fully accepted who she is, telling the Philippine Star in 2013, "I'm such a big promoter (now) of embracing what you're born with," adding that being half-Filipino is a "very big part" of who she is. "It makes me a little bit more unique."