Born: Vanessa Anne Hudgens
Date of Birth: 14 December 1988
Birth Place: Salinas, California, USA
Height: 5′ 1″ (1,55 m)
Vanessa Hudgens was born in Salinas, California. Her family moved to San Diego whilst she was still a toddler. She has a younger sister, Stella Hudgens, who is also an actress. Her mother, Gina (Guangco), an officer worker, is from the Philippines. Her father, Gregory Hudgens, a firefighter, has Irish and Native American ancestry.
Vanessa was interested in acting and singing at a young age, inspired by her grandparents who were musicians. At the age of 8, she started appearing in musical theatre. She briefly attended Orange County High School of the Arts. She began auditioning and was successfully cast in a TV commercial. This prompted her family to move to Los Angeles. She started homeschooling so she missed out on the high school experience, until she landed her breakthrough role in High School Musical (2006).
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.