New Age Ashley Tisdale
photos by ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC
When it comes to nice girls in Hollywood, you don’t have to look much further than Ashley Tisdale. Although Her breakout role was that of a conniving mean girl-thespian, Sharpay Evans in 2006’s High School Musical, her off-screen counterpart is anything but competitive and sneaky. Since then she’s gotten engaged, made a few movies, nominated for a Daytime Emmy and headlined a few television series. Now this star is ready to pave her own way in the entertainment industry she calls home.
By now all of America has enjoyed a few episodes of Ashley Tisdale’s baby–Young & Hungry. No, not a real baby, another kind of baby. An ABC Family sitcom, starring Emily Osment yet produced by Tisdale herself. “You know, I’ve had my company for five years now. I did a lot of developing with my producing partner. But this is my first scripted show, and it’s really exciting,” says the 29-year-old actress turned producer. “It was definitely like I was still learning. What’s different with the scripted stuff is that I’ve obviously been around it so much, and I’ve done it myself. So I guess I have really great instincts when it comes to it.” Good instincts? Try impressive. The show boosts an exciting cast of accomplished funny people in Kym Whitley and Rex Lee, accompanying Osment’s Gabi character from scene to scene. And don’t think for one second that Ashley’s spitting out ideas and calling it a day. For those inclined to see things that way, she’s here to set you straight.
“I’m completely involved behind the scenes. In fact I just walked off set,” she tells me over the phone during our interview. “I’m there every table read, and I’m there every Friday night for their show night. It’s great to get to a place where I now have the confidence in myself as a producer, especially with this project. At first they wanted me for the lead character. Obviously I love ABC Family and I love the company, but I just kind of really wanted to view myself as a producer for this one, and not be the driving force behind it. When they picked up the pilot, it was then that I knew that it wasn’t about me being in it, and they believed in it as much as I did. I was like, “Ugh, oh my God, yes!”
For those yearning to see Ashley in a scene, rather than behind one, you’re covered. Her new TBS comedy series Buzzy’s is slated to hit TV stands in early 2015. The Boston-set series takes place in a barbershop full of off-kilter characters. I know what you’re thinking, more comedy eh? But why change the pace when everything you’ve done in your career up to this point seems to suggest that comedy is your knack – whether that’s reciting the jokes or overseeing them. Ashley Tisdale loves the world of sitcom and America loves her in it.
“I just feel like this new show, it’s such a great challenge, because it’s so different. I’m obviously more over the top comedy, and this is more natural, and so it’s challenging for me and I love that about it. It’s a completely different role and I’m so excited for people to see how mature I am in this one. It’s my transition role for sure.” [Laughs]
With a budding romance to fiancé musician Christopher French, and more than one series in production, this TV vet somehow finds time to do it all, while keeping the romance alive during their engagement. “My cousin Blair, who’s made a career for himself doing voice-overs, would always teach me, and I always thought it was very fun,” says the New Jersey blonde. “I constantly did Disney animation pilots, and none of them winding on the air till Phineas and Ferb came along. Now to have that knowledge of how long the show’s been going is crazy yet so fulfilling to think about.”
So how exactly does it feel to be nominated for an Emmy when your millions of fans praise your work on the daily already? Nothing like a simple “I loved you in that show!” apparently.
“I definitely didn’t see that coming,” she assures me. Citing an Emmy as a “her main goal in life,” news of her nomination came as a shocker. “When I was younger, I had a list of everything I wanted to do, and my mother thought I would never hit voice-work. And now I get to see the extent of what it’s come to be.”
How does she manage to accomplish so much, yet look camera ready time after time again? Maybe it’s those good instincts again. But even if you’re Ashley Tisdale, all it takes is the right essential pieces, and a good game of pairing, mixing and matching.
“I feel like a good distressed jean is something that’s essential. I have this pair from Bebe, and they’re actually my favorite right now. You can dress them up, and you can dress them with flats. I’m into so much, and so many things fashion wise. I love Valentino to more inexpensive things. I can just also find a vintage place, and find a really cool t-shirt and you know, dress that up with something. I think it’s about how you pair different clothes together.”
It should be noted that a good hair color can be just as essential as that right pair of jeans, Tisdale who’s had her fair share of different colors and dos, shares with us her philosophy when changing teams. But even better—she’s equipped to tell us if blondes really do have more fun.
“I feel great in any color that I am. But there is something about brunette hair that does make my personality feel a little bit darker? [Laughs]. I’ll be brunette for a while, and I’ll be in this kind of dark period and I’ll be like, what is going on! I’m so serious! Naturally I have so much energy and I’m really bubbly as a person, that when I’m brunette, I’m like, what’s wrong with me! And then when I’m blonde, I’m like ugh, I feel myself again [Laughs]. I feel like the blonde is definitely more fun. When you’re a brunette people look at you a little bit differently. I feel like as a brunette they kind of take me more seriously, and so you put on this vibe that’s much more serious than before.”
Her last words are about love. “The wedding is a lot of planning, and I love it. My fiancé and I are very natural with each other, so this entire process has been amazing. ”
photography ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC www.alekandsteph.com
styling WARREN ALFIE BAKER www.warrenalfiebaker.com
makeup KARAN MITCHELL at TRACEY MATTINGLY
hair RICHARD COLLINS for WEN by Chaz Dean at TraceyMattingly.com
special thanks CHRISTINE SNIDER
production Bello Media Group | Words by Dio Anthony