In just two short years, Ashley Tisdale has gone from Disney actress to worldwide superstar thanks to the smashing success of High School Musical. Earlier this year, the starlet released her first album, Headstrong, and has a second one on the way soon, in addition to a feature film, Picture This, and the third film in the HSM franchise. The 22-year-old took a break from her busy schedule to model some sweaters for OK! and to chat about her new album, mall tours and why she likes wearing sweats.
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Do you think now that you guys are more famous, it’ll present more challenges going back on set?
No, it’s exciting! We’re going back to the same school that we originated from. We’ve always gone back there and it’s just fun. It brings back so many memories and it brings us back to where we started. It’s a really amazing experience.
What kind of workouts do you do?
I like to do a lot of cardio. I want to get into Pilates. At my gym they also have yoga and classes that you can take so I definitely try out everything.
Any fun vacations that you’ve taken recently?
Not yet! Hopefully soon, though. It’s the holiday season coming up so I’m excited for Christmas.
Any fun traditions with your family that you guys usually do?
I love Christmas at our house — it’s so much fun. We love to make cookies that have been handed down generations on my dad’s side. It’s just a great time to be at home. I love being home at Christmastime. I love going to the Grove — it’s so amazing! It kind of reminds me of Rockefeller Center. It’s like the best time of year I think.
Do you like the Hollywood scene?
Even though I live out in L.A., I’m not very Hollywood — I don’t do that stuff. I love to just watch movies and hang out at home. I’ve always been able to keep my private life separate from my business. Just growing up in the business I had a very normal life going to a regular high school and doing TV shows. I love to work and the actual working on the movies and on the recording and doing all that stuff. When I’m not doing that I like to just stay home and just try to hang out with my family and my friends and just stay out of that. I really don’t want to be knownn for who I’m with and what I’m doing. I really want to be known for my work, and that’s mainly it. I’m not into the whole people following me around all the time.
Why did you decide to make your first tour a mall tour?
it was to be able to give back to the fans. Obviously I’m here because
of them. Everything with High School Musical is all because of the fans
and I just wanted to get out there and be able to perform. They didn’t
have to pay anything — it was a free concert. I got to meet and greet
and be with the fans and I love to perform. I love performing.
Obviously my next tour will be bigger. I just felt it was a great
steppingstone and it was really fun for me to do. And I love performing
in all the malls. It was fun to be able to shop and then perform
[laughs]. It was awesome!
Did you ever go see someone perform in a mall when you were younger?
I didn’t. I didn’t get to. Avril [Lavigne]’s done it. It’s a really great way to be out there and hang out with your fans. And it’s not that long. I think I was on tour for a month. It was every day so it was hard. Every day I’d do a performance but it was just great to stand out there and know that 3,200 people have come to see me. And in Philadelphia it was like, 10,000 people that came to see me perform. It was an amazing feeling — knowing that they’re there to see you.
How was it recording your new album?
It was really exciting because Warner Bros. really let me have a lot of creative control over it. And I wrote three songs on the album. I enjoyed every minute of it — just being able to go through the recording process, the writing process, meeting with producers. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Did you enjoy making your first album?
I enjoyed every minute of it.
There’s nothing like doing your first album. I’ve learned a lot from it
and I’m excited for my second album.
Do you feel comfortable being able to put a lot of who you are into your songs?
This first album was really about who I am — Ashley — not just a character. It was definitely something where I wanted to put my own experiences through high school, dating, life, in the songs. So really it was very close to who I am. So it was just a chance for the fans to get to know me better.
Do you think your fans might have a misconception of you because you played such an over-the-top character in HSM?
I think sometimes they do, yeah. And I think the tabloids can also give a misconception to the fans too. So really I want to make sure my fans know where I stand.
Is it hard for you transitioning from a younger core audience at Disney to your album that’s reaching maybe a different group?
It definitely is ’cause you don’t want to lose your fans. I want to keep my fan base and have them grow with me but also capture an older audience. So it definitely is a hard thing to do. It’s a very fine line I think. So I went into this obviously having a lot of edgy
tracks but the lyrics are pretty universal, and I think some of them have really good messages. The music video was a little edgier and that was for a TRL audience — not aiming to my younger audience. But I think I did something that was a little bit sexy but it was also fun and edgy and spunky. I think each weighed each other out so it
wasn’t that bad. So yeah, I think that is very hard. But I hope to have my audience grow with me and keep going and go further — do more feature films and I think my second album is definitely going to be a little edgier than this one so it’ll definitely be a different side of me.
Do you want to focus more on acting or singing now?
It’s all about balancing it out I think. At first it was really, really hard when I was doing HSM 2 and when my album released. That was very hard to balance. But I think that you just find time and they’re both equally important to me. I’m focusing on my music right now — I just did the tour and now I’m going start my second album. But I’m set to do HSM 3 in February so then I’ll be going back to my acting. So I think it’s just a balancing act.
You’ve released a behind-the-scenes DVD. By doing this, what do you want your fans to know about you?
It’s the story of Headstrong. It’s kind of a trilogy with three music videos. It’s not particularly about Ashley Tisdale but it’s a story that’s not like a movie but it’s a he-said- she-said, which somehow they actually have a storyline between each of them. So they kind of roll into each other. But really it’s three music videos that I got to create with my director and do something fun and it had a cute story that we made up. Actually Josh Henderson, from Desperate Housewives, is also in it and my sister so it was just something fun for my fans to see. Hopefully they’ll like it!
How did you like shooting outside in NYC?
Oh it was fun! Except it was starting to rain — it was actually starting to pour — so that wasn’t fun. [laughs] But other than that it was really cool.
What’s your style?
I love clothes and I love fashion. I dress up so much for work that when I’m not working I like laying low and wearing sweats. I really like jeans and a T-shirt but If I’m going out somewhere with friends for dinner I’ll totally dress up. My style can be totally random, from vintage to surfer. It just depends on how I’m feeling that day. I love Victoria’s Secret, Stella McCartney boots, Burberry shoes, Jimmy Choos. I also love Jessica Simpson’s line of shoes.
Is it difficult when you know that what you’re wearing might appear in a magazine?
Yeah, you have to think about it. A lot of my friends prefer to be followed all the time by the paparazzi; I’m so glad I don’t have that all the time. I want to be known for what I’m working on, not where I’m hanging out.
For more on Ashley, check out her exclusive gallery and pick up the newest issue of OK!, on newsstands now!