Ashley Tisdale rose to fame playing a mean teen queen in Disney’s High School Musical, but now the actress is all grown up and set to star in TBS’s Clipped, a new comedy about a group of former high school classmates from different cliques who’ve hit career setbacks and returned home to Charlestown, where they find themselves working at the same barbershop. We caught up with Tisdale between rehearsals for the show, which premieres June 16.
What kind of research did you do to play a Bostonian? I’ve actually been to Boston several times on tour, and my cousin lives there, so I definitely have experience with the cold days there. [Laughs.] The one thing we were all super nervous about was the accent. But they had the guys take on a heavier accent. I play the girl next door, and it was just a little harsh sounding.
You’re about to turn 30—is this where you imagined you’d be when you were in high school? I think that I have exceeded what I thought I was going to be in high school. I always dreamed of being on a series, but I never imagined the success of what I’ve experienced so far. But I still have those moments where I think, “Oh man, I haven’t done that yet.” I’m always challenging myself so I never feel like “I’ve done it!”
What do you think you’d be doing now if acting hadn’t panned out—what was your plan B? I didn’t really have a plan B! But I went to regular school my whole life, so I think maybe I would have been in the creative writing field. Or maybe journalism.
What clique were you part of in high school? I didn’t really have one. For the first couple years—I had just moved from New Jersey to California—I was just that new girl, and I was super shy. But then I was kind of friends with everybody. [But] I think I felt kind of uncomfortable for a long time, because I’d always acted but I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with what I did. It’s hard, in school. People bully you for anything. Anything you give them, they will make fun of, so I was definitely well aware of that.
I always imagine that Hollywood is a bit like high school… I definitely would say that. I think everyone knows each other because you audition so much and so you become friends. I knew Blake Lively because her dad was my acting coach for the longest time. I used to model with Lindsay Lohan in New York City. But I think I’m still the kind of person I was in high school where I’m friends with everybody, but not in one particular group. But I’ve always been able to separate the business from my personal life.
Let’s talk hair: What’s the worst haircut you’ve ever had? I’ve had a couple hair disasters actually. Most recently, I grew my hair out—my bangs especially—for my wedding, and I was so excited about it. And then I went to someone new for a haircut, and they pretty much just chopped my bangs off. Before I could realize what was happening, they were already gone. I was devastated.
One haircut you know you can’t pull off, but wish you could? I wish that I could pull off a bob. However, I know myself, and I know that after maybe a week I’d just be over it. I always think the idea of cutting your hair is so much fun, and then when you do it you’re all like “Oh, why did I do that?”