Vanessa Anne Hudgens (born December 14, 1988) is an American actress and singer. Hudgens rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. Hudgens has also appeared in various films and television series for the Disney Channel. She had her feature film debut in the 2003 film Thirteen, a teenage drama in which Hudgens had a supporting role. She had mainstream success following the release of the High School Musical trilogy, and her relationship with co-star Zac Efron was heavily publicized. Her appearance in the series helped make her a household name. Songs from the films also charted worldwide, with the song "Breaking Free" peaking inside the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. This led to Hudgens releasing her debut album, V, on September 26, 2006 which entered the Billboard 200 at number 24, and was later certified gold. Her second album, Identified, was released on July 1, 2008 in the United States.
Since the release of her albums and the High School Musical franchise, Hudgens has focused on her acting career. She has appeared in the films Bandslam (2009), Beastly (2011), Sucker Punch (2011), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), Spring Breakers (2013), and Machete Kills (2013). She has also played the title role in the Broadway musical Gigi in 2015, and the role of Rizzo in Grease: Live in 2016.
Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and lived with her parents along the West Coast, from Oregon to Southern California. Her mother, Gina (née Guangco), held a succession of office jobs, and her father, Gregory Hudgens, was a firefighter. She has a younger sister, Stella Hudgens, who is also an actress. She was raised as a Roman Catholic. Her father was of Irish and Native American descent, and her mother, a native of Manila, Philippines, is of Filipino-Chinese-Spanish descent. All of her grandparents were musicians.
Hudgens began a relationship with High School Musical co-star Zac Efron in 2005. The couple became a frequent target for the media, and in turn the BBC predicted that Hudgens would be a "household name" in the US. They ended their relationship after five years in December 2010. Hudgens is very close friends with actress Ashley Tisdale, whom she met when they both starred in the film High School Musical; Hudgens was a bridesmaid at Tisdale's wedding on September 8, 2014.
Hudgens has been in a relationship with actor Austin Butler since 2011.
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 subject. OK! magazine speculated that Hudgens would be dropped from High School Musical 3 as a result of the images, but The Walt Disney Company denied this, saying, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."
In August 2009, another set of pictures showing Hudgens topless emerged on the Internet. Hudgens' 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 on March 15, 2011.