LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Her platinum white hair is long gone, replaced by silky smooth, dark brown locks. Yet that doesn't stop young girls from recognizing "High School Musical" star Ashley Tisdale at restaurants and asking for autographs.
Tisdale's role as Sharpay Evans, an over-the-top teenager who will stop at nothing to get what she wants in Disney's "High School Musical," has given her a huge following and altered Tisdale's life forever.
And the 24-year-old actress is expanding her career in new projects, including her role in movie "Aliens in the Attic," which debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday.
Tisdale continues to work in TV where "HSM" was a huge hit on the Disney Channel before becoming a movie, and she is even producing. Her singing has landed the actress a chart-topping recording career, and her second studio album, "Guilty Pleasures," comes out this week.
On the downside, her growing popularity has meant Tisdale has a constant trail of paparazzi following her around.
"I don't have a private life anymore; that's gone out the door," said Tisdale, but she has not let that stop her career.
In "Aliens in the Attic," Tisdale sheds her Sharpay image to portray a teen named Bethany, who joins other kids to battle aliens that land on the roof of her family's summer home.
Tisdale calls Bethany a "typical 17-year-old teen," whereas Sharpay tended toward being "very dramatic and very much a caricature." And Tisdale said getting away from "HSM" helps show her versatility as an actress.
"People know me as Sharpay, so playing a different character like Bethany is a great departure, she said.
Yet Tisdale's past is one reason "Aliens in the Attic" producer, Barry Josephson, wanted her onboard. "She brings the female audience to the movie," he said. "The other advantage is that she's really, really funny."
Josephson, whose credits include the movie "Enchanted" and the TV show "Bones," calls Tisdale a "new generation Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Aniston" because of her instinct for comedy. Yet he feels she can go beyond that.
In fact, Tisdale is making further inroads in TV as the voice of the character Candace on Disney Channel's animated "Phineas & Ferb," and she will appear in an upcoming episode of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," helping host Ty Pennington build a home for a needy family.
Tisdale and her company, Blondie Girl Productions, are developing several TV projects, including a dating reality show she says the E! Network has considered launching. A pilot episode was already shot.
"I can't say much about it because it's not yet put together for the channel, but I can say that it's not in my age range. It's older - a little bit of 'Sex and the City.'"
Tisdale said she is looking for follow-up movie projects to "Aliens in the Attic," and she would "love to do more comedies or even romantic comedies."
Josephson noted that her other talent, singing, will likely come in very handy in the future, too.
"Ashley can do a biopic like Jennifer Lopez did with 'Selena' or take on a Streisand-type role. With her music and acting abilities, Ashley is very unique."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Alex Dobuzinskis