“HSMTMTS gave me confidence to use my voice.” Julia Lester talks lessons she learned from playing Ashlyn that she brought onto set of new film Prom Dates

Julia Lester rose to stardom playing Ashlyn Caswell in all four seasons of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and she is back to chat with Young Entertainment ahead of her new coming-of-age film Prom Dates, which premieres on Hulu on May 3. Julia plays Hannah in Prom Dates, starring alongside Antonia Gentry who plays Jess. YE got to chat with Julia ahead of the film’s release to learn more about her character and the similarities between Hannah and Ashlyn from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, her relationship with Antonia, and what she learned as an actor from the experience. 

In Prom Dates, Jess and Hannah made a pact at 13 years old to have the perfect prom. Flash forward, they are now 24 hours before the big event and everything is ruined when they break up with their dates. Now they have one night to find new dates and make their childhood dreams come true. In addition to Julia and Antonia, the film also stars JT Neal, Jordan Buhat, Terry Hu, John Michael Higgins, Chelsea Handler, and more. 

Julia Lester is one of YE’s most featured talents, taking the time to chat with us about High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. She also comes from a theater background, and portrayed Little Red Riding Hood in the 2022 Broadway revival of Into the Woods, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. You may also recognize her co-star Antonia Gentry for her role as Ginny on Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia

“I think my experience on High School Musical really helped me to be comfortable in a collaborative environment and ask a lot of questions and share ideas.”

Julia revealed that both her characters Hannah and Ashlyn have a lot in common. They are both similar in their element of discovering themselves and are great friends to those around them. 

“[Hannah and Ashlyn from HSMTMTS] are pretty good at going after what they want, I think both are pretty ambitious with the right love around them.”

We also asked Julia about her relationship with Antonia on set, and she said they bonded very quickly and it became an instant best friend connection, which worked perfectly as they were playing best friends on screen. 

“[Antonia] is so wonderful and so funny, and we got along so great and I think it really translates on screen.”

Prom Dates is set over the course of 24 hours, which meant that Julia and the cast filmed a lot of scenes at night. Julia said it was fun to work on a new schedule and while adapting took some time, all of the cast made it an enjoyable experience. 

“We were all in such high spirits during all of it and everybody was just happy to be there.”

Julia said she was lucky, as both Prom Dates and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series  were welcoming sets. Her experience playing Ashlyn taught her the confidence to use her voice and ask questions, both things she was able to do on set playing Hannah. 

“It was a really wonderful working environment and I think experiencing something so good is a really important thing so that you know what you are looking for in your next project that you work on.”

Thank you, Julia, for chatting with Young Entertainment. Follow her on her Instagram at @julialester. Watch the video where we ask her more questions about Hannah, fun off-set moments with the cast, and whether she is Team Jacob or Team Edward from Twilight. Be sure to like, comment, and subscribe to our channel for the latest news in young entertainment. 

Consider this: 

  • Use your voice and ask questions while on set. You earned this role, don’t be afraid to have some confidence. 
  • Whether it is your first on-screen role or one of many, make the experience on each set you’re on welcoming for all.