Debby Ryan on Her Hit Show and Upcoming Debut Album

Even if she wasn’t famous, Debby Ryan would be a cool girl. You know the type: Smart (see her charming Tumblr), funny (see her hilariously witty tweets), and she can rock ball gowns and band tees with the same aplomb. The actress-slash-singer is totally BFF-worthy, and she just so happens to be real-life besties with half of youngHollywood.

But Debby is famous, and deservedly so—the Disney star has acted on loads of hit series (remember The Suite Life?), the latest beingJessie, which kicks off its third season this summer.

We stole a few minutes with the 20-year-old to chat about movies, music, and making it big on the small-screen.

What can we expect from season three of Jessie?
Disney has never done a show with someone who starts out so grown-up̬Jessie’s 18! She’s still trying to figure out what kind of career she wants, so she’s trying different things and attempting to move forward and really advance as an actor. More than anything, it’s about watching her grow.

You’re going through a lot of the same things are your character. Do you influence the storylines at all?
I think that’s where we get half the inspiration for the show, just saying, “Okay, Debby, what’s going on with you right now?” I’m doing what Jessie’s doing. She’s moving forward, and life is changing and shifting around her. All the stories about her family and her relationships—all of those personal things—are totally typical of someone that age.

You’ve been on TV for years now. Are movies next for you?
It’s funny—for a lot of people, features are the dream, and they’re like, “When life settles down, maybe I’ll go to TV.” For me, it’s the opposite. I’ve really fallen in love with television. TV acting is a great skill to have, and it’s nice to have that stability.

But you’re into movies and music too, right?
I can do a little bit of everything, which is such a blessing. I have an amazing team of people around me. They don’t come to me and say “You should really do this, or you should reallyconsider that.” It’s, “Do you care about this project? Do you really want to do this? If not, don’t push it.” Acting and the industry of making movies is beautiful, but it’s so exhausting and suchhard work, if you don’t absolutely 100% want to do something, it defeats the purpose. You haveto want to do it and choose things that are worth fighting for. A career is not as much defined by things you say “yes” to as much as things you say “no” to.

You’re also recording an album! What should we expect from that?
I wouldn’t do the music thing if it weren’t for my brother, who’s a producer. He understands me and helps my vision come to life. I want to tell stories, and I want to tell them in the right way. He helps me do that. For the longest time, I was afraid to be a Disney girl who does music. It’s like, I love those girls. Those girls are my favorite. But it didn’t feel like me! Music is such an intensely personal thing for me, and I knew if I was going to do it, it would be in my own way.

What does it sound like?
There’s a little bit of everything. There are ukeleles and screaming guitars and loud drums and fun piano. It really is a fun record that’s about experiencing every shade of life.

You also manage to do a lot of charity work, too! What are you doing right now?
I’m an ambassador for Disney’s Friends for Change, and I asked them if there’s anything we can do to help little girls in India get education and a better quality of life, because that’s important to me. A few months later they introduced me to an incredible charity called Free the Children, which helps young people empower other young people. They recently partnered with Amwayto look for changemakers who are positively affecting their communities and, therefore, the world.

You always look awesome on the red carpet. Are you into fashion?
It’s such an exciting subplot of what I do. I’m blessed because get to tell stories and help people, but I also get to step out and wear cool things and tell people who I am. I’m inspired by street style and Teen Vogue. I love band tees and pearl earrings!

Beauty Staple: Elisa Nalin’s Platinum Pixie Cut

WHO: Elisa Nalin, the Paris-based fashion stylist

WHAT: “I’ve always cut my hair and then let it grow in cycles. I used to get bored quite easily. I’ve done everything you can imagine, the weirdest styles—mullets, a Ziggy Stardust look, purple hair. Four years ago, after I had my baby, my hair was long and I wanted to cut it again but everyone was against it. After a while, I decided to do it myself. I just went for it. I have no fear when it comes to hair. First, I cut it into a bob at my ears, and I bleached it at home. Then I called and begged Franco Gobbi, my oldest friend and a supertalented hairstylist, to cut it very short into a boyish pixie cut. He did it and I was so happy!”

WHERE: “I always went to Franco, even while I was still living in Milan and he was in Paris. Unfortunately for me, he moved to New York and I had to find somebody new. That wasKarin Bigler. We were at the same talent agency at the same time, and so she would cut me and do my color as well. Then, guess what? She moved to London! Recently, as my hair was growing out, I became desperate and went for a walk in my neighborhood in Paris looking for somewhere to get it done. I stumbled upon salon Coiffure et Spa by Christian Lacout, which is a traditional place that’s been around since 1965. The platinum blonde came out very well, and it’s much less expensive than anywhere else I’ve been! It’s the perfect place for a touch-up.”

WHEN: “I’m not regular at all about my cut and color. But after I wash it, I always use a product to nourish and hydrate since I bleach my hair so often. My favorite thing to do is mixSebastian’s Potion 9 with a bit of argan oil from Cris Dios Organics. I discovered the latter last month while I was in Sao Paulo for fashion week. I went to a hair spa there called Laces, where they massage your legs and shoulders while treating your hair! To keep it from being fluffy when it dries, I use Himalaya Herbal Healthcare’s Protein Hair Cream, which I discovered in India this January. I love it because it works the same whether you apply it to wet or dry hair.”

WHY: “Having short hair changed the way I dressed. Before, I was much more 1960s and very retro. Now, when I put on one of those dresses, I’m like, No, something is wrong. I’m much more comfortable dressing masculine, in a shirt and pants all the time. Of course, I mix a lot of color and textures—I’ve always loved playing with patterns—and I still wear a lot of pink, but the clothes themselves are masculine. I don’t think I can go back to long hair this time. I think part of it is becoming a mother. It’s just less practical. It’s funny—short hair doesn’t change the way you feel, but it changes the way people see you. People didn’t recognize me at first! Also, living in Paris, you get a lot less bothered by men!”