Ashley Tisdale: ‘I’m so into taking chances and growing’ now

Ashley Tisdale Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

In October, it's almost impossible to turn on the TV, walk into a store, or even go to a football game without being reminded that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now that we're flipping our calendars to November, actress Ashley Tisdale, best known for the "High School Musical" movies, hopes that we don't forget that there is still a need to fund research for the disease and support for breast cancer patients and their families. Tisdale, who is the spokeswoman for PUMA's Project Pink initiative for the cause, is so passionate about breast cancer because, for her, it's personal. "At Christmastime last year, we found out my grandma had breast cancer, and she was the first one in our family to have that," Tisdale reveals to omg!, explaining that her grandmother had a mastectomy. "At that moment it was really, really hard. She's fine now, and we're very lucky, but I really wanted to get involved."

Both Tisdale and her grandmother starred in a PSA for Project Pink, which features a line of pink-themed merchandise sold to benefit breast cancer charities. This year, the company donated $62,730.62 in profits (and by giving $1 for each person who tweeted #projectpink) to the organization that earned the most votes on its website: the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund at Magee-Womens Foundation, which is based in Pittsburgh. Tisdale laughs as she explains that her grandmother wasn't at all camera shy. "She was happy to be in it and spread awareness, and just to be in something with me," the actress notes. "It was really special."

Besides her good deeds, Tisdale's also been hard at work with her acting projects, which, as of late, are helping her to break out of her image as a squeaky-clean star of Young Hollywood. The starlet played a call girl on FX's gritty biker drama "Sons of Anarchy," and she just finished filming her role in the upcoming fifth installment of the raunchy "Scary Movie" franchise. Just what would her "High School Musical" character Sharpay think?! "I'm 27 and everybody always thinks of me as being younger, but I am older. I'm finally getting a chance to kinda show that," Tisdale says, adding that she's "so grateful for what Disney has given [her] the chance to do." Still, she's definitely happy to be taking on more mature projects. "For a while I wanted to stay in my comfort zone, but I feel like right now my life, I'm just so into taking chances and growing," she reveals. "And I think you have to [take chances] in order to grow."

Tisdale's also been at work behind the camera. She provides a voice for Disney's TV show "Phineas and Ferb," and will voice the title character in Hub's upcoming animated series "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." More importantly, the former "Hellcats" hottie also has been producing. Her Blondie Girl Productions, which is behind the Bravo reality series "Miss Advised," has plans to develop several series for the digital space as well as other channels. "We have a Disney Channel movie we're producing called 'Cloud 9' right now and a lot of stuff in development," she shares. "Just yesterday morning before going into work, looking at casting tapes on 'Cloud 9,' but it just takes me back to that moment … I remember when I was in that same room auditioning for 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody' or 'High School Musical,' and it's just really cool to be making other people's dreams come true."

After spending weeks on the "Scary Movie 5" set in Atlanta with her adorable dog Maui, Tisdale is looking forward to taking this week off before getting back to work at her production company. Her biggest plans include dressing up for Halloween. "I'm so excited to hang out with my girlfriends. We're all dressing up as superheroes," shares Tisdale, adding that she'll be sporting a Batgirl costume.

Look for Tisdale to don a ballerina ensemble as she parodies "Black Swan" when "Scary Movie 5" hits theaters on April 12, 2013.

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