Date of Birth: December 14, 1988
Growing up in Salinas, California with her parents and younger sister Stella, Vanessa Hudgens (whose mother is Filipina, Chinese,and Spanish, and whose father is Irish and American Indian) trained in dance, piano and voice. Her first professional job was playing a munchkin in a local stage production of The Wizard of Oz, for which she was paid $50.
More stage roles followed in musicals such as Carousel, The King and I and Damn Yankees. Vanessa made her feature film debut in Thirteen (2003), co-starring Holly Hunter and Evan Rachel Wood. She'd also appeared in the feature film Thunderbirds (2004) as Tintin and made guest appearances on The Brothers Garcia, Robbery Homicide Division, Quintuplets and Still Standing when she landed the role as Gabriella Montez, the brainy but beautiful newcomer who wins the heart of Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), the star basketball player at East High in High School Musical.
When the made-for-TV movie debuted on January 20, 2006, it was quickly became the most successful Disney Channel original movie ever produced. The film's soundtrack was the best-selling album in the U.S. in 2006 and Vanessa and her co-stars (with the exception of Efron, who was in Toronto filming Hairspray at the time) went on a sold-out North America concert tour. During the concert, Vanessa not only sang songs from High School Musical, but from her own album, entitled "V," which has sold over 500,000 copies.
While filming High School Musical, Vanessa and Zac began to date and stayed together for almost five years, even though she was the focus of a scandal when nude photos she'd taken of herself wound up on the Internet, following the release of High School Musical 2. The two won a Teen Choice Award for TV-Choice Chemistry in 2006.
The sequel, though not as good a movie as the first one, was even more successful, bringing in a total of 17.3 million viewers in the U.S. (almost 10 million more than the first one) during its premiere on the Disney Channel. Again, a soundtrack was released as well as numerous merchandise such as clothing, dolls, lunchboxes, jewelry, etc.
The cast again signed up for a third movie, this time for the big screen, entitled High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008).
Vanessa has also appeared on television in the hit Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh and was a semi-regular on one season of the Disney Channel's series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Since the High School Musical series, she's appeared in a number of big screen features, including Bandslam (2009), Beastly (2011), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). Spring Breakers (2013) and most recently, the heartwarming comedy Dog Days (2018).
She also starred in the Netflix holiday film The Princess Switch (2019) and reprised her role in the sequel, The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020). In 2020, Vanessa starred in Bad Boys for Life, alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
An animal lover, Vanessa has several pets, including a toy poodle. In 2007, she became the spokesperson for Neutrogena products. After breaking up with Efron, Vanessa began dating actor Austin Butler, who has played regular roles on shows such as Zoey 101 and Switched at Birth. He stars in the action series, The Shannara Chronicles. In January 2020, news broke that the couple split after nearly nine years together.