Vanessa Anne Hudgens (born December 14, 1988) is an American actress and singer, who is best known for her portrayal of the character Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. She also earned critical acclaim for her role in the 2009 film Bandslam.
As an actress, Hudgens has appeared in several television programs including Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. She made her screen debut in the 2003 drama Thirteen as Noel. She got her first starring role in the 2004 science-fiction-adventure Thunderbirds as Tintin.
Hudgens' debut album V was released on September 26, 2006. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number twenty four, and was later certified Gold. Hudgens released her second album, Identified, on July 1, 2008 in the U.S.
Hudgens' fame has also been marked by scandal caused by the release of private, self-taken nude photographs of herself on the Internet without her permission on several occasions. Since a third and anonymous release of these images, the FBI is now investigating these leaked photos in an attempt to find the source in connection with similar investigations regarding such hackings around altogether about 50 Hollywood celebrities.
Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and lived all over the West Coast — from Oregon to Southern California — with her parents, Gina (née Guangco), who held a succession of office jobs, and Gregory Hudgens, a firefighter. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and has a younger sister, Stella Hudgens, who is also an actress. Hudgens is of mixed cultural background, as her father is of Irish and Native American descent, and her mother, a native of Manila, is of Chinese-Filipino-Spanish descent. All of her grandparents were musicians.
Starting at the age of eight, Hudgens performed in musical theater as a singer, and appeared in local productions of Carousel, The Wizard of Oz, The King and I, The Music Man, and Cinderella, among others. Two years after her career in stage plays and musicals, she started auditioning for commercials and television shows, and her family moved to Los Angeles after she won a role in a television commercial. Her acting career started at the age of 15, and she briefly attended Orange County High School of the Arts, followed by homeschooling with tutors.
In 2003, Hudgens played a minor role in the independent drama film Thirteen, where she plays Noel, a friend of a lead character (Tracy, played by Evan Rachel Wood). The film was critically successful, receiving generally favorable reviews, and its receipts surpassed its $4 million budget. Hudgens subsequently landed a role in the 2004 science fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds as Tintin. Unfortunately, the film was commercially and critically unsuccessful, and received heavy criticism through the Internet prior to its release.
In late 2005 Hudgens appeared in television shows such as Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
In late 2005 she landed her breakout role of shy and meek Gabriella Montez in High School Musical, opposite to Zac Efron. Her performance received numerous nominations and awards. With the success of the film, the BBC predicted that Hudgens would be a "household name" in the US.
In 2007, Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella Montez in the sequel of High School Musical, High School Musical 2. Virginia Heffernan of TV Review described Hudgens in her performance in the movie as "matte" as she "glows like a proper ingénue".
Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Her performance in the film made her win favorite movie actress in the 2009 Kids Choice Awards.
Post-High School Musical, Hudgens remarked that she will focus in her acting and films, while "taking a break" from her music career as a solo artist. She played a supporting role in a musical comedy Bandslam, which was released theatrically on August 14, 2009. Hudgens plays "Sa5m", a 15-year-old awkward freshman with untapped talents. Although Bandslam was commercially unsuccessful, Hudgens's performance received praise from critics. David Waddington of the North Wales Pioneer noted that Hudgens "outshines the rest of the cast, failing to fit in with the outcast narrative and making the inevitable climactic ending all the more expected," and Philip French of The Guardian compared her acting to Thandie Newton and Dorothy Parker.
Hudgens performed a musical number with other artists during the 81st Academy Awards. Hudgens later provided voice roles in an episode of Robot Chicken. Hudgens' involvement in Beastly, a film based on Alex Flinn's novel of the same name, was announced in early 2009. She played one of the main characters in the film as Linda Taylor, described by Hudgens as the "beauty" of the story but not the stereotypical beauty everyone thinks of. Along with Beastly co-star, Alex Pettyfer, Hudgens was recognized as ShoWest stars of Tomorrow. Hudgens was later cast in an action film directed by Zack Snyder, Sucker Punch, playing Blondie, an institutionalized girl in an asylum, which was released in March 2011.
After so many years, Hudgens returned to theater productions wherein she starred in the musical Rent as Mimi. The stage production ran from August 6–8, 2010 at the Hollywood Bowl. Her involvement in the production drew negative comments, but director Neil Patrick Harris defended his decision with casting Hudgens by saying, "Vanessa Hudgens is awesome. She's a friend. I asked her to come in and sing to make sure she had the chops for it. And she was very committed and seemed great."
In October 2010, it was announced that Hudgens will be joining the sequel to the 2008 film Journey to the Center of the Earth alongside Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson, playing Hutcherson's love interest. In April 2011, it was reported that she would star in an indie film, Gimme Shelter with Brendan Fraser, written and directed by Ron Krauss. Hudgens will also play Cindy Paulson in The Frozen Ground, a film based on the Robert Hanson case wherein she plays as his only victim who escaped. She co-stars with John Cusack and Nicolas Cage.
Hudgens received a recording contract with Hollywood Records. On September 2006 her debut album entitled V was released. It charted on the Billboard 200 at number twenty-four, and was certified Gold on February 27, 2007. Her first single, "Come Back to Me" became her highest-charting single. Her second single was "Say OK". Billboard readers chose "V" as the seventh best album of the year. Hudgens was named Female Breakout Singer of the year at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards.
Hudgens also participated in the nationwide High School Musical: The Concert tour in fall 2006, performing the songs from the soundtrack album as well as the three songs from her debut album. She sang the duet "Still There For Me" with Corbin Bleu for his debut album.
In December 2007, she sang to George Bush, who was then the president of the U.S., and his family, at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. with other singers at a Christmas event.
Her second album, Identified, which received generally favorable reviews, was released on July 1, 2008, debuting at #23 on the Billboard 200. The album's lead single was "Sneakernight", which was a moderate commercial success, peaking at #88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #94 on the Australian Singles Chart. Hudgens's Identified Summer Tour began on August 1, 2008 and ended on September 9 of the same year.
Image and personal life
Her height is 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m). Us Weekly said Hudgens and her High School Musical series co-star Zac Efron "met in 2005 while making the first High School Musical flick, and became a romantic item about two years later." The two were paired together during the audition process and got the part because of their chemistry. The two ended their relationship in December 2010.
In 2006, Hudgens's earnings were estimated to be $2 million. Hudgens was included in Forbes richest list in early 2007, and the Forbes article noted that she was included in Young Hollywood's Top Earning-Stars. On December 12, 2008, Hudgens was ranked #20 in the list of Forbes "High Earners Under 30", having reported to have an estimated earnings of $3 million in 2008. She was number 62 at FHM's Sexiest Women in the World of 2008 and number 42 in the 2009 list. Hudgens is also featured in Maxim's lists. She was included in People's annual "100 Most Beautiful People" 2008 and 2009 lists.
Hudgens was represented by William Morris Agency but she signed on to Creative Artists Agency in 2011. Hudgens also promotes Neutrogena and was the 2008 featured celebrity for Sears' back-to school campaign. She was a spokesperson for Mark Ecko products. But in late 2009, she ended the 2-year contract with Ecko products. Hudgens regularly volunteers for charitable activities, including those for Best Buddies International, Lollipop Theater Network, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Hudgens is also featured in A Very Special Christmas Vol.7 disc which benefits the Special Olympics. Hudgens is also part of the "Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C): Change The Odds" along with other Hollywood stars including Zac Efron, Dakota Fanning, Kristen Bell, and others.
On September 6, 2007, photos of Hudgens appeared online, one showing her posing in lingerie and another showing her nude. A statement from her publicist claims that the photo was taken privately and it was unfortunate that they were released on the Internet. Hudgens later apologized, saying that she was "embarrassed over the situation" and regretted having "taken those photos." Hudgens subsequently released a statement indicating that she declined to comment further on the scandal. OK! magazine speculated that Hudgens would be dropped from High School Musical 3 as a result of the images. The Walt Disney Company denied the reports, saying, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."
In August 2009, a new set of pictures showing Hudgens topless emerged on the Internet. Hudgens's representatives did not comment, though her lawyers requested the removal of the pictures from the Internet. In late 2009, Hudgens sued "www.moejackson.com" for posting nude 'self-portrait photographs' of her taken on a mobile phone in a private home. Hudgens later commented on the photos' impact on her career in the October issue of Allure with, "Whenever anybody asks me, would I do nudity in a film, if I say that it's something I'm not comfortable with, they're like, 'Bullshit, you've already done it.' If anything, it makes it more embarrassing, because that was a private thing. It's screwed up that someone screwed me over like that. At least some people are learning from my mistake." According to Us Weekly, further pictures were released on the internet March 15, 2011 as well as a nude video. Some of the released images involved another female celebrity, Alexa Nikolas, the 18-year old star of Zoey 101.
Brian Schall sued Hudgens in 2007 for an alleged "breach of contract"; according to the suit, Schall claims he advanced costs and expenses on Hudgens's behalf for her songwriting and recording career. Schall claims Hudgens owed him $150,000 after helping her earn more than $5 million for her music career. Hudgens argues that she was underage to sign her contract in October 2005 as she was just 16 then. She subsequently disaffirmed it on October 9, 2008. Papers filed in court by her lawyer say California's Family Code "provides that the contract of a minor is voidable and may be disaffirmed before (age 18) or within a reasonable time afterward." In 2008, Hudgens was sued by Johnny Vieira, who claims he was owed a share of Hudgens' advances, royalties and merchandising revenue in exchange for his management services. Vieira accuses Hudgens of abandoning her talent team as soon as she became a commercial name in the High School Musical era. In early May 2009, the case was settled.