Ashley Tisdale takes on the holiday season as a newly single woman who is in the process of discovering her true self — while dealing with her family of wildly different personalities, of course! In the Netflix sitcom Merry, Happy, Whatever, Ashley stars as Kayla Quinn, the middle daughter of the Quinn family, led by their strong-willed, tough-loving father Don, played by the icon that is Dennis Quaid. Early in the series, Kayla’s husband stuns her by demanding a divorce (in front of her whole family), which leads Kayla down a road of self-discovery, which ends in an emotional moment when she comes out as gay to her family. Interestingly, Ashley, along with the rest of the cast, was unaware of her character’s arc and “figured out who she was as the same time.”
“I only knew the first episode because Tucker [Cawley] wouldn’t let us in on what was going to happen with our characters, which is really cool because sometimes if you know the arc of the character, you’re almost a couple steps ahead. Whereas I got to be in the moment with her trying to figure it out,” Ashley explained in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife.com. “She’s trying to figure out who she is and she’s in a self-identity crisis. I was trying to figure out who she was at the same time as well, so it was kind of like we did it together.”
“But I have to say, yeah, it was one of the most fulfilling acting roles that I’ve really ever gotten to do because I think a lot of the roles that I have done in the past have been very strong characters and they know who they are and there isn’t this, ‘Who am I?’ That’s what I usually bring to a role because I’m pretty confident person and I really know what I like, I know what I want,” Ashley continued, referencing her previous roles such as the determined Sharpay Evans in High School Musical and Maddie Fitzpatrick in Suite Life Of Zack and Cody. “With Kayla, it was just such a different situation where I got to really add things in there.”
Ashley revealed that she found out about her character’s story arc when she was tipped off by someone in wardrobe who dished that they would need to cut her hair mid-season. “I feel like there hasn’t really been anything on TV where the journey of someone finding out that they are gay is documented. I think that was really different,” she explained. “I really cared about Kayla and I really respected her as a character, and I wanted to do [the coming out scene] in the most in the most authentic way.”
The actress added that playing the role “means so much” to her. “Acting is all about being someone else and getting into someone else’s shoes, so to jump into Kayla’s shoes and to go through something I’ve never gone through in my life was really inspiring and beautiful I really was excited to share that,” Ashley said.
You can binge watch Merry, Happy, Whatever on Netflix NOW!