“I think my reaction on-camera says it all … I couldn’t believe it, and I started to get emotional,” the Frenshe founder, 37, exclusively tells Us Weekly.
In a new episode of Ancestry’s 2 Lies and a Leaf, released Tuesday, November 15, the High School Musical alum and sister Jennifer Tisdale learned about their relatives. After discovering one ancestor invented a bedazzler and another owned a New Jersey movie theater, she learned that the Elvis star, 31, is her 10th cousin once removed.
“We’ve had an immediate connection since we met, and we’ve been close friends for years. We even joked about being fraternal twins,” Ashley adds.
She quickly told her Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure costar about the connection.
“I texted him as soon as I heard and he replied right away saying, ‘NO F-ING WAY!.’ He was just as shocked as I was,” the Merry Happy Whatever alum recalls. “To know this whole time that we’re actually cousins – it’s just so wild.”
The two share English ancestor Richard Scruggs, who died in 1669. While their family history goes back hundreds of years, Butler and Ashley already have quite a history. They worked together in 2011 on the Sharpay-focused High School Musical spinoff, and Butler was a groomsman at her June 2014 wedding to Christopher French.
It was exciting for her to learn that Butler isn’t just a friend she considers family — but an actual part of her brood. Ashley prioritizes her tribe more than ever now that she’s a mom, having welcomed daughter Jupiter in March 2021.
“Family has always been so important to me. I love celebrating the holidays with old traditions and starting new ones, and it’s even more special to see Jupiter experience this as she’s growing,” she tells Us. “I’m definitely going to share my Ancestry discoveries with my family – and I know they’re going to love it just as much as I did.”
The singer can also see the familial traits Jupiter has already inherited. In addition to learning about her connection to Austin, she saw grandmother Marilyn Keays’ wedding announcement.
“When I saw the newspaper article with a photo of my grandmother on her wedding day, it was so moving,” Ashley explains. “She has always been such a strong and independent figure in my life. My daughter is already strong-willed at 18 months, so it must run in the family! It’s so awesome to learn about her big milestones before we knew her as ‘grandma.’”
Watch Ashley’s full episode of 2 Leafs and a Lie on Ancestry’s YouTube page.