Vanessa Hudgens - biography
Hudgens rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. Hudgens also has appeared in several television programs including Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. In 2009, she earned critical acclaim for her role in the film Bandslam.
In addition to acting, Hudgens released her debut album V on September 26, 2006 which entered the Billboard 200 at number twenty four, and was later certified Gold. Her second album, Identified, was released on July 1, 2008 in the United States.
Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and has lived with her parents throughout 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. Hudgens is of mixed ethnic background, as her father is of Irish American and Native American descent, and her mother, a native of Manila, Philippines, 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, in which she played Noel, a friend of a lead character Tracy (played by Evan Rachel Wood). The film was a commercial success, receiving generally positive reviews, with USA Today calling it most "powerful of all recent wayward-youth sagas". Hudgens subsequently landed a role in the 2004 science fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds as Tintin. The film was a commercial failure and strongly criticized for "abandoning the original concepts".
A year later, Hudgens made guest appearances on television shows Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. In late 2005 she landed her breakout role as the shy and meek Gabriella Montez in High School Musical, opposite 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 performance as "matte," as she "glows like a proper ingénue". The third film in the series, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released in 2009. Her performance in the film prompted her win for "Favorite Movie Actress" in the 2009 Kids Choice Awards.
After High School Musical, Hudgens remarked that she will focus on 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, Linda Taylor. Hudgens described her 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. Her next role was in the action film, Sucker Punch, directed by Zack Snyder. She played Blondie, an institutionalized girl in an asylum. The film was released in March 2011.
Hudgens made a return to theater productions and 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, Hudgens joined the cast of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, 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 Gimme Shelter with Brendan Fraser, a film written and directed by Ron Krauss. Hudgens will also play Cindy Paulson in The Frozen Ground, a film based on the Robert Hansen case wherein she plays as his only victim who escaped. She co-stars with John Cusack and Nicolas Cage. In November 2011, Hudgens announced on her official website that she will be starring with Selena Gomez and James Franco in Spring Breakers.
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 the following December, she sang to George W. 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.
Hudgens promotes Neutrogena and was the 2008 featured celebrity for Sears' back-to school campaign. In 2007, she became a spokesperson for Mark Ecko products but ended the contract after two years.  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.
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. Hudgens briefly dated her Journey 2 co-star, Josh Hutcherson but the two are now good friends.