'High School' actress graduates on high note

There are late bloomers and then there’s Ashley Tisdale of “High School Musical 2″ fame. Barely 22, Tisdale is already a showbiz veteran whose career began at the age of 3. “I was discovered by a talent scout at a local mall,” says the New Jersey native, who went on to appear in more than 100 commercials before landing leading roles in tours of “Les Miserables” and “Annie.” 

Tisdale is now best known for her role as Sharpay Evans, the Drama Club diva everyone loves to hate in “High School Musical 2.”

“I love playing the bad girls — they’re always more fun,” she notes. Not that she’s in any danger of being typecast — Tisdale also stars as Maddie, “a sweet, girl-next-door type” on Disney Channel’s hit series “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and voices “funny-crazy” Candace in Disney’s new animated series “Phineas & Ferb.”  She is currently in Montreal filming the starring role in “Picture This” for MGM Home Entertainment.

“I’m a workaholic,” admits Tisdale, who is also an accomplished songwriter and recording artist signed to Warner Bros. Records. Her first solo album, “Headstrong,” debuted at No. 5 in February, followed by a sold-out 42-city national tour with “High School Musical: The Concert,” which featured several of her songs. “I don’t want to choose between acting and music,” she adds. “I want to do it all.”

Recent breakthrough: “Definitely ‘High School Musical.’ I never expected it to be so huge.”

Role model: “My mom. She instilled so much confidence in me. I don’t really look up to anyone in the business. I want to set my own path.”

What’s next: “A big U.S. and European radio tour for my ‘Headstrong’ album. I’m re-releasing it and doing three musicvideos.”

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