Julia Lester is the talented young actress who portraits Ashlyn in the Disney hit TV show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS). Besides, she is a charismatic person interested in sharing love, sparking joy with her talents, and reminding us that, when it comes to being kind, it is all about inclusivity.
From the early years to a life-changing role
VT: What can you tell us about your first roles? And how did you start singing, dancing, and acting?
JL: Coming from a family of performers, it was always in my nature to be interested in performing!
I started auditioning and working in commercials when I was about five years old, and then from there, I got really into other kinds of onscreen acting, as well as musical theatre and stage performance!
Some of my earliest (and fondest) onstage roles include Little Cosette in Les Misérables, Little Girl in Ragtime, and even Milky White in Into the Woods!
VT: Despite your considerable acting experience and been doing what you love for years, do you consider High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has changed your life for good?
JL: Oh absolutely! It has changed my life in so many ways.
I am so grateful I have gotten to spend these really important and formative years of early adulthood amongst such inspiring and encouraging people.
Our cast and crew have really played a huge part in not only the person I am today but the person I am becoming.
VT: How about the song Wondering?
JL: Wondering was the very first song I ever professionally recorded!
It was such a huge honor when I was presented with the opportunity to sing such a beautiful song in the show. And I am so happy it has and continues to touch so many people around the world.
It’s really cool to think about the fact that the song will live on and be special to so many people throughout the years to come!
It is all about inclusivity
VT: HSMTMTH came out in 2019, and the world came to know Ashlyn. Thus, what do you think about the ways many young people are feeling identified and represented with her story?
JL: One of my favorite aspects of HSMTMTS is the inclusivity and how important it is to our writers to create authentic, real teens that people can relate to.
I always find it comforting and sort of beautiful to relate to someone, whether they are real or fictional. We all deserve to feel seen with reminders that we are not alone in who we are!
VT: Would you like to invite our readers to stay tuned with season 2 and the following episodes that are about to come?
JL: Absolutely! There’s so much more drama and music this season. Things have been really elevated for the viewers, so definitely keep watching so you can experience all the magic!
VT: What can you share with us about What She Said?
JL: Most definitely, I am so excited and honored to be an associate producer on my older sister, Jenny Lester’s, film What She Said. It’s a “traumedy” about sexual assault, made by an almost entirely female and non-binary crew under 35.
It’s incredibly hopeful and funny, and I’ve never seen this kind of story told in this way before. I am so proud of Jenny and her team and can’t wait for the release! I recommend following @shallowgravesny for all updates on the film, including premiere dates!
VT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
JL: If you’re reading this, I love you, and I am so grateful for you!
Before we go
Let us remember, it is OK to be the way we are because we are not alone.