Capturing the spotlight with the now tween classic High School Musical, Ashley Tisdale quickly went from Disney Channel darling to Hollywood It Girl. Now with two additional HSM installments under her belt along with her own production company and a blossoming music career, Tisdale has officially come into her own and easily tops our list of the “20 Rising Stars Under 30.” This summer, Tisdale’s star is set to shine a little brighter with the release of her second album, Guilty Pleasure, out June 16 and her film, Aliens in The Attic due out July 31. Never one to “take herself too seriously,” Tisdale proves it is possible to survive rejection, the Hollywood rumor mill and even heartbreak, but more importantly, that there is life after High School Musical.
Your new album is out June 16. What can you tell us about it?
The album is called Guilty Pleasure. I co-wrote four songs on it. I recorded 25 songs, but there’s only 14 on the album. I just really knew exactly what I wanted going into it that I wasn’t going to stop until I had what I felt was perfect. I put my heart and soul into this album. There’s a lot of breakup songs. There’s a lot of stuff I’m actually going through so it’s like art imitating life.
When it comes to writing your songs, love and heartbreak can be inspiring subjects to write about. Is there anything else that influenced some of the songs?
I think that a lot of the influences are about being strong and survival throughout the whole album. Even if there are breakup songs, they’re very empowering breakup songs. It’s like pop-rock angst. When I was young, if I was in relationship hell I would put on Kelly Clarkson or Madonna and rock out to it, and it made me feel better. So
I really wanted to do that for my fans. I’ve been in that situation where I have been cheated on. And sometimes girls stay in those kinds of situations because they think they’ll be better staying in the relationship, but I think you need to know you just need to step away from it and you will be ok and you will move on. It’s just really empowering, and I think there’s a sense of survival throughout every song on the album.
Why the title “Guilty Pleasure?”
I did a song called “Guilty Pleasure” we ended up not putting it on the album. I just thought it was such a great title. I like to make fun of myself, and I don’t take myself too seriously so I’m hoping to be your guilty pleasure.
I love Pink, Katy Perry, Sting, Pat Benatar. I love all types of music and I think that they influence me a lot. The rock part of me has always been a big fan of The Used, My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday and even Boys Like Girls, and I think that was influencing a lot of my second album.
Do you have a preference when it comes to singing versus acting? Or are they just completely separate passions for you?
They’re completely different so they’re so separate for me. I was just on the set doing a reshoot for Aliens in the Attic. I totally forgot, but movies just take a really long time. When you’re singing, it’s live so it’s just this whole different adrenaline rush and it’s about who you are and not about playing a different character so people get to connect with you more. It’s so different to me, but I love them both.
Oh yeah, because at that point I had always dreamed about doing an album one day and I had to decide if was going to go with the singing or the acting, and I went with the acting. So I just felt like, “Man, I would love to be able to sing again one day or do an album.” And when High School Musical came around, I was just like, “This is a dream come true. I can’t believe this.” Then it opened all these doors for us so we were pretty lucky. It was pretty amazing. I was acting and then doing music videos at the same time.
What was the High School Musical experience like with so many crazy fans? Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you first started?
We had no idea. We just had so much fun. The cast got along super well, like really well. That does not happen usually. It doesn’t happen on a lot of movies. The fact that all of us were all best friends who were all hanging out and having fun I think just came across on screen. And I think kids saw what’s real, and they saw us having so much fun that they just automatically liked it. It became this huge thing and we had no idea. We just knew there was something special in the cast.
Do you see another installment coming any time soon?
We heard they’re doing a High School Musical 4, but we’re not doing it.
There have been so many fans. Recently, I’ve had a lot of them sit outside my house in cars. That’s just a little weird. They’re really passionate so it’s really sweet.
What can you tell us about your new film Aliens in the Attic?
It’s a big action comedy, and it’s about aliens obviously. My character Bethany is the older sister that’s so in love with her boyfriend, who is played by Robert Hoffman. She’s just kind of the older sister that doesn’t get along with the younger siblings. It’s a really cute movie. The character’s not a really big stretch at all, but I went into it knowing that it was just going to be fun and it was going to be a challenge because we were working with CGI. It was a great cast. We had Kevin Nealon, Andy Richter, Tim Meadows. We had Doris Roberts, Carter Jenkins plays my younger brother and obviously Robert Hoffman. So it was just a really great comical cast. We learned so much from each other. It was fun.
Was it difficult to pretend to fight CGI and 2-D animated aliens that were not there when you did the scene?
It was a little weird. It was hard especially for the action scenes where I was kind of fighting nothing. It was full on choreography, which I’m used to, but it was weird. I have to say I saw it and it’s really really good. They put a lot of money into the animation. And with producer Barry Josephson, he was the producer of Enchanted and Men in Black, I knew he knew what he was doing.
What kind of film or TV projects are you interested in doing in the future? Is there any interest in moving away from the family genre?
I definitely want to get more into romantic comedies and drama. I think I just want something to really challenge me as an actress. I just want to show a different side of me and show what I can do. All this other stuff that I have done has been challenging and fun, but there’s so much more I can do and I kind of want to show
Are there any actors or directors in particular that you’re wanting to work with?
Tim Burton. Love him. I love Steven Spielberg, I think he’s great. Johnny Depp is really great. I’m a big fan of Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn. I love them. Cameron Diaz. Jake Gyllenhaal. I would love to work with any of them.
I read that you have your own production company (Blondie Girl Productions). What sparked that decision and what kind of projects are you hoping to produce?
I’m just starting out with reality television with E!. I was just building the company. I really hope to do movies and to do with TV shows with it. I don’t want to star in any of the stuff. I’m just producing it. I want to build up the company, make other people’s dreams come true and give them a chance.
What made you want to get into producing?
It was really different. Everyone kind of does the whole clothing line kind of thing. I love fashion and I love clothes, but I don’t like to just follow people. Executive producing is kind of my outlet for being creative. I’m someone who’s really thinking especially when I’m on a project. When I’m a character, I’m thinking about every little detail. The fact that I can be creative in that way overall with a project is really awesome. It’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever done and I’m still learning about it, but it’s fun. I go into the networks and pitch ideas that I really believe in.
Do you see yourself possibly going into directing at all down the line?
I don’t know about directing. That’d be very strange. Maybe if I got used to it… I haven’t really figured that one out yet.
Since you top our list of the “20 Rising Stars Under 30,” what’s your personal experience been like working in the industry? What’s been the biggest challenge and what’s been most rewarding?
I think the challenging part of the business is that it’s just 90 percent rejection. The best way of dealing with it is just forgetting about it and moving on to the next. You definitely fall in love with projects you don’t get. You kind of have to forget about it and keep going. I think that’s the challenge. But I think the reward of it is when you actually get that job. It makes up for all of the other things you didn’t get. I just love working. I love being on set. I love what I do and I’m very lucky and thankful to be doing what I love. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way because I feel it’s made me very grounded and grateful for everything.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your Saturday night?
On Saturday night, I love going out with my friends, either to dinner and a movie or out dancing!
By Jillian Gordon