What is one of our favorite facts about Debby Ryan? She was her school's wildcat mascot. If you knew this fun fact, or even if you didn't, you'll still love Ms Ryan's cover of this month's American Cheerleader.
In the issue, Debby opens up about her time as a mascot, fame, being the new "It Girl," and Justin Bieber. Check out some highlights:
AC: What was your favorite thing about cheerleading?
Debby Ryan: I liked the unity of the team. I liked the fact that we spanned different ages, were all from different places, had different lives and different experience levels, but that at the end of the day we were all there to do the same thing. It'd be like, "OK, if you can do the middle splits but you're terrified of stunt groups, you're going to be dead center." We'd play towards everyone's strengths.
AC: You were also a mascot at one time, too. What was that like?
Debby: I was the wildcat and the uniform was an old panther costume that was falling apart. I'd have to hot glue the face back on every three weeks. It was so bad. So, I did a bunch of fundraising to get a new costume and two weeks after I left the school, they bought the new one! I was like, "Seriously?"
But, I had fun as the mascot. I organized a 30-person skit to "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, with all original choreography. It was insane! I would krump on the cheerleaders and bat at them and stuff. I got all the theater kids and half the cheerleaders involved, too. And there were props. Now, in the age of YouTube, it'll probably pop up somewhere.
AC: How do you feel about being so visible? Does fame ever get to you?
Debby: As a kid, I literally laid in bed in Texas, having this dream, and now it's actually happening. At times I think I'm going to wake up and I'll just be a girl baking brownies in my kitchen. I wouldn't call myself a celebrity, because I kind of feel weird about that word...
AC: And along with fame comes being a role model. How does that effect you?
Debby: I'm definitely a role model, and that's something I love; I embrace it. There are a lot of people out there who are scared of being a role model. They're like, "I'm just a normal kid..." I'm normal in a ton of ways, but I'm also fully aware of the fact that kids see what I do, and some emulate me and it's important to me to not let them down. I have this whole thing where I just really want to make my grandma and parents and brother proud.
AC: So the buzz is that you're Disney's new "It Girl." Do you feel a lot of pressure to live up to other Disney stars?
Debby: Even before the Selena's and Demi's and Miley's, there was Hilary Duff and Shia LaBeouf. And sidenote-I love Raven's career. But I feel like instead of them setting standards, it's sort of like they've carved their own paths. For me, I'm all about longevity. I'm just trying to create my own little venue.
For instance, I love making music, but the way I do it is in my home studio with my brother. I've been writing for a while and producing new tracks and things like that. Sometimes we'll sell them and place them with other artists, sometimes we'll make certain ones just for movies or shows. That's something that I do behind the scenes, because it's just a passion. I don't do it to have my name on it. And if I were to ever create a clothing line it wouldn't just be generic clothes. It would be about, not only the words they say or sketches I draw on them, but also how I go about doing things and representing them.
AC: We heard a little rumor that you were one of the first "Beliebers." Is it true that you were the one who introduced Justin's music to the rest of your "Suite Life" cast?
Debby: It's true! I write a music blog and I'm kind of a YouTube creep. So, I saw this little kid singing "With You" by Chris Brown and I was obsessed with him. I thought he was super precious and very vocally talented. I ran around on set with my iPhone showing people Justin Bieber. Everyone was like, "Oh my gosh, he's amazing!" A couple months later his music video with Usher came out and I was like, "No fair!" It's just so cool to watch the whole thing happen.
Check out the rest of Debby's interview here and behind-the-scenes of her photoshoot below.
Debby's new series "Jessie" premieres on Disney Channel September 30.
(Photos: American Cheerleader)