Actress Bridgit Mendler may have been starring alongside Selena Gomez on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” but it still took a few months — and some shopping in an office supply store — before she realized she was actually famous.
“I was in Staples, back when people went to Staples,” jokes Mendler, speaking from her Los Angeles home during a break in touring. “And this girl came up to me. I had been on ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ … and she asked for a picture. I remember I was just flattered, excited.”
It wasn’t long before Mendler’s star would rise higher. She soon landed her own series, starring as Teddy Duncan in the Disney Channel hit “Good Luck Charlie,” which ran from 2010 until February of this year.
And as with most Disney stars, Mendler can belt a tune. Her 2012 debut pop album “Hello My Name Is” debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 200 with a sound that’s been compared to both Lily Allen and Cher Lloyd.
“I think I naturally have a bit of a soulful sound — that’s what I gravitate toward,” says Mendler, 21. “That was the element that I wanted to combine with the pop sound. I really do like pop music. I think it’s fun and it relates to a lot of people.”
Mendler will come to the Wildwoods Convention Center 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, headlining “RunAround — A Pop Experience.” The tour, which runs through the end of August, also includes Jacob Whitesides, YouTube sensations Before You Exit, Nick Tangorra, Spencer Sutherland and The New Royalty.
“We’re really excited to put on a show and have some other guests be a part of it,” Mendler says. “I think it’s fun because we’ve been able to do the songs from the last album, a couple covers and some surprise songs.”
Billed as a family-friendly tour, RunAround will also feature an interactive mobile experience, allowing fans an opportunity to win meet and greets, merchandise and upgrades with all of the RunAround artists.
A second stage will be located inside the GameLoud Village, which will include tour and artist merchandise, activities for the fans and a chance to take photos with some of the performers. “GameChanger” pass holders will get priority access and early entry, in addition to a private VIP pre-party with acoustic performances.
“It’s been so much fun,” Mendler says of the tour. “For me, it’s definitely a different pacing then when doing acting gigs. With music, there’s more time to hang out and explore cities, try new foods. I love food. We have game nights (with the band), and it winds up being one big sleepover.”
For Mendler, who grew up idolizing stars such as former Disney darling Hilary Duff, acting and singing were lifelong goals.
“When I watched Hilary Duff on tour, I was wide-eyed,” Mendler says. “It gave me goosebumps. That’s how I knew how passionate I was — when I saw live performances. I was just dying to be up there.”
Still, the first time Mendler took the stage for a live show, she was terrified.
“It was a short set — I think it was 45 minutes,” Mendler says. “All I kept thinking was, ‘Can I get through the whole thing? What if I get out of breath?’ Fortunately we rehearsed a lot. Once I’m up there and doing the songs, I don’t want it to end.”
Mendler, who co-wrote all of the songs on her album, puts an emphasis on the lyrics, hoping to tell good stories. Mendler admits she can sometimes be inspired by her own life experiences, but don’t expect Taylor Swift-style songs leaving fans wondering who broke her heart.
“I think the best stuff comes from bouncing ideas off of people,” Mendler says. “I think it’s fun to just be adventurous with it and come up with random stuff.”
Still, sometimes the lyrics will ring true — after they’re recorded.
“Sometimes when I write a song, it actually ends up applying to my life after I’ve written it,” says Mendler, laughing. “I’m not sure what that’s all about.”