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.Two 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.