Let's get a few things out of the way: yes, you know Ashley Tisdale from her work on Disney Channel. The 31-year-old actress and singer was cast as Sharpay Evans in High School Musical at the age of 20, shooting her into stardom with a legion of devoted fans, and also appeared alongside Cole and Dylan Sprouse in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. What you may not realize, though, is Ashley is an accomplished businesswoman, with sights set as high as other actors and performers who have branched out from from their entertainment roots. "I've always been someone who looked up to Jessica Alba and Jessica Simpson," said Ashley.
Her fan base hasn't wavered, even though it's been almost 10 years since the third installment of the High School Musical franchise premiered. In fact, one could argue it's gotten bigger through her social media channels. And her résumé has expanded as well; her production company, Blondie Girl Productions, produces Young & Hungry on Freeform. She has her own line with BH Cosmetics, Illuminate by Ashley Tisdale; serves as the creative director for Signorelli; and is focused on regularly uploading to her YouTube channel, which currently has 1.2 million subscribers. We interviewed Ashley, who is currently working with Olay to promote the new Duo double-sided body cleanser, about reinventing herself, her relationship with Vanessa Hudgens, and that time she got a phone call from Britney Spears.
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On Why She Started Her Production Company
"I created the production company because I am someone who loves to work, obviously. I do not like to sit around and wait for my next job, which as an actress there's a lot of waiting time. I really found myself and my voice as a producer when we did the pilot of Young & Hungry. And that's when I got really confident. In any type of business that you're new at, of course you're a little bit insecure about it, like, 'I hope I'm making the right decisions,' but for me, it's always about my intuition."
On Obstacles She's Had to Overcome in Her Career
"There is a list! (Laughs) You know, it's never easy. When I first came out to LA, there was an agent that said I'd never work in this business. That is a true statement. I think, specifically, acting is so different from the other side, which is producing and my makeup line, and I'm the creative director of Signorelli. That type of business is so different. It's about seeing what works and what the fans like and what the audience likes."
On Being Typecast in Hollywood
"It's so funny, because I'm naturally brunette. So when I was growing up and I was screen testing for stuff, I was always screen testing for the blond role, and I was never getting it. So when Disney Channel decided to change my hair and my look, I definitely did not know I'd be getting all of the blond roles after that. In this business, it's so natural, unfortunately, for people to put you in a box and think of you as just that character that you've been known for and you constantly do have to reinvent yourself to break out of it. I've been in the business since I was 3 years old. So I, like I said, I'm always trying to find ways [to reinvent myself]. On the acting side, in order for me to do what I really want to do, I'll have to create that for myself."
On Her Relationship With Vanessa
"She's younger than me, (but) we give each other advice. We're always there for each other, through really hard times and exciting times and breakups. It's one of those things. She's like family. It is really rare to have. You know, we shot a movie years ago and it was such a time in our life and we were doing so much together. . . . For me, she's still really good people."
On Advice She'd Give Her 13-Year-Old Self
"What's coming to mind right now is me, singing in the car in the mirror visor like lip-syncing to Britney Spears, and I would do that in my bedroom too, but at 13 I didn't think I would be able to do that (for a living). I actually did meet Britney Spears and had lunch with her. A couple years ago, she reached out and wanted to have lunch. It was a crazy experience. I thought I was being Punk'd to be honest."
On YouTubers She Watches For Inspiration
"I'm a huge fan of Carli Bybel just when it comes to makeup. That's actually where I learned a lot of my makeup. I know her really well and I have her palette. I just put out my first makeup tutorial, which was really scary. It's different from doing stuff that I'm naturally organic like with music, but Carli does it so well where she talks to you about her life so you just get to know her within that clip. I love doing it because I do my makeup all the time, but I had so many bloopers."