When former Disney Channel star Ashley Tisdale was in between acting jobs a decade ago, she felt she was “wasting what God gifted me, which is being creative.”
“I feel like actors are very creative people, and when we were probably all home [in 2020] and were like, ‘Okay, we gotta put the creative energy somewhere,’” she said during The Times’ virtual “art of the Hollywood side hustle” panel on Tuesday.
Tisdale, who starred in Disney’s “High School Musical” movies and TV show “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” is the founder of lifestyle platform Frenshe and its companion beauty and personal care line Being Frenshe. She is among a growing number of actors who havein the years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and found new purpose in doing so.
Tisdale joined fellow actor-entrepreneurs Sarah Hyland and Molly Sims to discuss why they pivoted from Hollywood to create businesses inspired by their own mental and physical health experiences. Tuesday’s panel was moderated by Times columnist Amy Kaufman.
Frenshe got its start when Tisdale began her mental health journey. The actor, who has anxiety and depression, said she wanted to help “people feel less alone.” The wellness platform officially launched in the summer of 2020, when people were pining for personal connection amid COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation. After shuttering her Illuminate makeup line the same year, Tisdale said she was wary about re-entering the retail industry.
Years later, Tisdale said she accomplished her dream of having her own products on store shelves. “It’s been the most successful thing I’ve ever personally done … it was seeing [Frenshe] atthat made me feel like it was a success,” she said.
Actor-model Sims was already juggling several ventures, including her Something Happy Productions and the wellness and beauty podcast “Lipstick on the Rim.” Then she added YSE Beauty to her plate in April. Sims created her line out of necessity following her personal experiences with skin conditions hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Sims, who shares three children with Netflix Films chairman Scott Stuber, said her skin issues got worse following the birth of each child. “I really had a difficult time for about five years not wanting to … go out of the house without” makeup, she revealed.
Then, in the middle of some professional pivoting, Sims decided she wanted to help fill the market with her own “truthful and transparent” skincare line. The founder and chief creative officer of YSE, Sims said her business allowed her to tap into a different, business-savvy part of her brain and turn her side hustle into a full-fledged business.
“Love Island USA” host and “Modern Family” star Hyland sought to make medical supplements more appetizing, so she teamed with Jenne Moore and Andrew Remlinger in 2021 as co-founder and creative director of Sourse, a line of vitamin-infused chocolates. The actor, who has been vocal aboutand spending her “entire life in hospitals,” said there was a time when she was taking 30 pills a day, including supplements to offset the side effects of her “life-saving” medication.
When the opportunity presented itself to join Sourse , Hyland said she was excited to tap into her business acumen — some of which she gained from watching “Shark Tank” on ABC.
“It was a different type of foundation in the wellness space that wasn’t really out there,” Hyland said of her “snackable” supplements.
Whether thestarted as a solution to personal problems or a way to innovate, the three panelists agreed their businesses allowed them to advance their reach on their own terms.
Hyland said she enjoys the stability of having her own brand, and not feeling pressured to take every acting opportunity that comes her way. With Sourse, she can focus on “doing something that’s really important to me and really fun,” she said.
“My dad’s a Shakespearean theater actor and he always taught me, ‘Take the next job. You always ride that wave,’” she recalled. “I’m just so fortunate to be able to be in a place in my career, where I can be like, ‘I don’t think I want to take that wave.’”
Sims said she enjoys spending time with her family as she works on her various endeavors, instead of uprooting them to accommodate a TV or film project far from home. The multi-hyphenate, who’s been in the public eye for nearly 30 years, said there will be times when non-entertainment ventures seem “a little bit more appealing.”
“You have to weigh where you are in your life,” she said. “Yeah, the acting is amazing, but when you’ve been in the business for so long, this over here might seem a little bit more appealing, and for me that’s where I am in my life.”
Similarly, Tisdale said she’s hitting her stride with Frenshe. The actor, who shares daughter Jupiter Iris with musician Christopher French, said she will “always” love acting but finds her non-Hollywood work more rewarding.
“I feel like I’m doing something more meaningful in my life and helping others,” she said.