Lucas Grabeel on High School Musical: ‘The more time I get away from it, the more I appreciate it’

Lucas Grabeel with Francesca Harvey & Hailey Rose Gattuso

Lucas Grabeel, with LSY!’s Francesca Harvey and Hailey Rose Gattuso, offered this advice to teens with Hollywood dreams: “Work hard, do everything, say yes to every opportunity, and never look back.”

Lucas Grabeel’s career has been defined by the blockbuster High School Musical movies.

Want proof? Those double lip-trill warm-ups (Zzzz-Zzzz — Maaa! Maaa!) made famous by Lucas’ character Ryan Evans and his twin sister Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) have become legendary behind the curtain of every actual high school musical since Disney Channel first introduced the movies in 2006.

But time flies. HSM was first shot eight years ago, and Lucas has been moving fast forward with his career. Today he’s in Jamestown, New York — and so are we.

Lucas, 29, is singing tonight in Disson Skating’s Progressive Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular, which will air at 1 p.m. EST, Jan. 5, 2014 on NBC.

He’s also a cast member on the hit ABC Family show, Switched at Birth.

In our interview, Lucas told us that as a little boy in Missouri, he dreamed of working in Hollywood. As we’ve learned in other LSY interviews (including a conversation we had with figure skater Jeremy Abbott at this event last year), his interests made him the target of some bullying.

“You can’t be a dude and be a dancer and in theater and singing when you’re in middle school and not be made fun of,” he said. “I was armed with a wit. I could talk my way out of the bullying situations. But it wasn’t easy.”

A turning point in Lucas’ life was when he attended the Missouri Fine Arts Academy back in the summer of 2002.

“It was the first time I was around enough weird people; I was like, ‘Oh, there are other people like me. This is interesting. This is cool,’” he said. “It was such a neat experience to delve into that and be surrounded by the fine arts.”

Lucas Grabeel, who's part of the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular, told LSY!'s Francesca Harvey that he's appreciated the High School Musical experience more as the years have passed.

Lucas Grabeel, who’s part of the Progressive Skating & Gymnastics Spectacular, told LSY!’s Francesca Harvey that he’s appreciated the High School Musical experience more as the years have passed. (Photo by Hailey Rose Gattuso)

That program inspired him to skip college and move to L.A. after high school. That decision may seem risky, but it’s one made by other successful entertainers, including Ryan Seacrest, who left college to move to Hollywood.

“(The fine arts program) gave me the courage and the confidence to just pack up and leave,” Lucas said.

Of course, Lucas’ career broke wide open when he landed a leading role in HSM. He told us that only more recently has he fully realized the impact of that opportunity.

“I was so lucky to have that kind of jumpstart,” he said. “It’s not every day you’re part of something like that. At the time it was really hard to recognize that. But the years that have passed, and the more time I get away from it, the more I appreciate it and the more I look back and cherish that time. It was something special.”

— Francesca Harvey & Hailey Rose Gatusso, LSY! editors, Mount St. Mary Academy

Editor’s note: Check back soon for our video interview with Lucas Grabeel.

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