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Over 15 years after High School Musical made its debut on The Disney Channel, Ashley Tisdale revealed why the movie’s loyal fans fell hard for bad girl Sharpay Evans over good girl Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). Tisdale, who played Evans for four films in the franchise, claimed that fans felt drawn to the character in a way that was different than initially expected.

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Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale | David Livingston/Getty Images

Sharpay Evans was a self-centered young woman with a hidden heart of gold

The character of Sharpay Evans was written as self-centered and opportunistic; ambitious but also domineering and devious. Evans was crafted to be an ice princess who was so used to getting her way it was difficult for her to her open up her heart to others. This was in direct contrast to the sweet and innocent characterization of Montez, played by Hudgens.

Still, fans appeared drawn to Evans. Perhaps it was her very direct way of letting others know her feelings. Maybe it was just about overcoming her insecurities by putting forth an illusion of knowing everything when she was just as insecure as those around her. In the end, Evans may have had to acquiesce to the lead role in her beloved musical to her competitor Montez, but she did it with a grace far beyond her years.

Ashley Tisdale reveals why fans fell hard for Sharpay Evans

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In an interview with Good Morning America, Tisdale looked back at the role that made her a teen superstar and an iconic figure for millions of theater kids who just wanted to be noticed. 

“The entire time, she was just business-driven. She just wanted to work and do the musicals,” Tisdale said of her character. “Gabriella was off with Troy (Zac Efron) just wanting to chase a relationship.” 

“It’s funny because a lot of young kids did react. You know, they loved Sharpay,” Tisdale said to Good Morning America. “And I remember Disney being like, ‘Why do the kids love this character? She’s supposed to be the villain.’ … An 8-year-old was like, ‘I love it because she knows what she wants and she goes and gets it,’ and I was like, ‘She totally understands! This 8-year-old understands this.’”

Ashley Tisdale said she could never play that iconic character again

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Ashley Tisdale | Christian JENTZ/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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Tisdale said that if the opportunity presented itself to revisit her former High School Musical alter-ego, she would not play the role again. She claimed that moment in time, both professionally and personally, would never have the same impact as it did back in 2006 upon the movie’s debut. Tisdale would play the role of Evans not only in High School Musical, but in High School Musical 2, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year before taking on the role one more time in the movie Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.

“I think at that moment in time, I was very unaware of myself and my surroundings, and I feel like that’s a big part of Sharpay,” Tisdale said of the way the role was played at the time. “She is just not really aware, and so as I grew up and became more aware, I think that it’s just something that it wouldn’t be the same.”

The actor also said to Entertainment Tonight, “It’s so good, and it’s like, for me, I would hate to ruin something that is perfect for that moment, and yeah, I don’t think I could go back to it.”