This season more and more celebrities are volunteering for the “Get on the Bus” campaign as part of ABC’s reality powerhouse ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.’ On Sunday night, Ashley Tisdale will be the latest in a long line of stars tightening their tool belts to help families in need. On Friday, Tisdale chatted with us about building chicken coops with her dad, trying to keep it together for the “move that bus” moment, and perhaps guest staring in a different high school musical.
What drew you to do ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’?
I actually watch the show all the time with my family. My dad is in construction, so we all get together and watch it on Sundays. You know, it’s a very emotional show and I always cry at the very end. I never thought they’d actually ask me to be on it so I was super excited when they called because Hannah, who is one of the little girls in the family, was a big fan of mine. So they asked her ‘Who do you like?’ And she said, ‘Ashley Tisdale.’ Ty joked and said he had me on speed dial and that he could get me out there and she didn’t believe him. So it was a big surprise when they actually had me there as a volunteer. I also thought it would be really fun to have my dad be a part of it too, so it was me and my dad out there.
Did you do any handy work with your dad during the build? Did you hammer in some nails or install anything?
I did a lot of handy work. [Laughs] I was like, ‘This is hard!’ I had a whole new respect for my dad after that day. We were outside in the sun, working away with our hard hats, building a chicken coop, doing the floors in the house, and I helped the designer Michael [Moloney] with Hannah’s room. It was a lot of hard work but it was so much fun because the best part about it is seeing the reaction and that’s priceless.
How emotional was it for you when you’ve finished this house and it comes to the “move the bus” moment and everyone gets to see the finished product?
I wasn’t able to see the family. They weren’t letting me out since I had to surprise them. I was like ‘But that’s my favorite moment when they move the bus!’ [Laughs] So I was sneaking over to the window. They have all the windows papered down so you can’t see inside the house, so I ripped it a little bit and I watched them moved the bus. Let me tell you, I was crying. That family was just so excited. This was a family that lived in a little 800 sq. ft. home with six kids and there was just no room. So to have all these family, friends and volunteers out to help you, it was just a warm and great environment to be in for a week. I just felt like it was one of the best times in my life and sharing that with my dad was a lot of fun.
Watch a sneak peek of Ashley’s work on Sunday’s episode:
So the family had no idea you were there until after they revealed the house?
Yeah, they surprised them with the house and then I surprised them. So I’m already teary-eyed and crying about them seeing the house and I have to get ready to meet them. The first thing that happened was that Hannah just goes running to me and jumps in my arms. There was no hesitation, there was no shock like, ‘Oh my god she’s here!’ She didn’t just come up to me to shake my hand. She just ran and jumped. I almost fell over and it was such a moving experience I was about to lose it. She’s so adorable and the family is very deserving of everything.
What was it like shooting a reality show? How different is the pace from doing scripted television?
It’s a total reality show and it’s all real. There’s no set-up or anything that you tend to hear about other reality shows. I had gone in thinking, ‘There’s no way they build that house in seven days.’ [Laughs] But they do! They build it in seven days. It’s insane. You have all these volunteers helping out just because they know the family or they just want to help. It’s just a great, cool thing. It’s definitely hard work but you get it done and it’s cool to see the finished product. Any celebrities who love that show should definitely go on it because it’s so much fun.
Any other television shows you’d love to be a guest star on?
I’m a big fan of ‘Glee’. I’d love to get on that show, I love the whole comedy of it and I think it’s great. I think the actors are really great on the show as well.
Do you have a song you’d love to sing on the show?
[Laughs] I think their song choices are really great and I think they do a great job of picking the songs so I’d be open to anything.