You definitely know of Vanessa Hudgens if you’ve been anywhere near a television since the mid-2000s. The star got her big break playing the lead role of Gabriella in the Disney movie High School Musical in 2006, starring opposite Zac Efron. Since then, she’s established herself as a major star, starring in two more High School Musical films — not to mention a string of other shows and films including Powerless, The Princess Switch, and Bad Boys for Life.
Hudgens has been a Hollywood mainstay for so long that it’s hard to believe it has been well over a decade since she first caught our attention. While it would be easy to dismiss her as just another Disney star, that would be a mistake. Hudgens has worked hard to prove that she has a wide range of talents. There is definitely a lot more to Vanessa Hudgens than meets the eye.
This is how Celine Dion inspired Vanessa Hudgens
Vanessa Hudgens has been in love with performing since she was a little girl. The talented singer honed her singing chops with a karaoke machine that her parents bought for her as a kid. She was first motivated to learn how to sing after hearing the iconic singer Celine Dion, telling GMA News that she “stole” a copy of the album The Power of Love from her parents when she was “about seven years old.” And she was immediately hooked.
“I just took out the flip book and sang every single song, every single day,” said Hudgens, adding that she was particularly entranced by “that one high note” in “The Power of Love” — a note that Hudgens worked hard to one day be able to hit. Hudgens further revealed that she was also inspired by other notable singers, including Christina Aguilera, Michael Jackson, and Patsy Cline.
High School Musical "completely derailed" Vanessa Hudgens' career
High School Musical may have helped Vanessa Hudgens gain the attention of a global audience, but being a Disney star wasn’t something that had initially been on her radar. In fact, the lighthearted musical was quite a departure from how Hudgens pictured her career. The actress had always been more attracted to grittier fare, telling The Guardian that, from the age of 11, she dreamed of being “the indie girl” and wanted to play characters like, in her words, “a drug addict or a stripper or a prostitute.”
While grateful for her breakout role, Hudgens said High School Musical “completely derailed me from where I originally saw my career going.” In the years that she was a Disney star, Hudgens had to work hard to maintain her squeaky clean image and was forced to turn down roles that strayed too far from her wholesome teen idol image.
It took some time, but Hudgens eventually broke free of her Disney persona. One film that helped her do this was Spring Breakers, an R-rated crime drama about a group of girls who get arrested while on their spring break vacation.
Vanessa Hudgens filmed her first movie at 13
While it was High School Musical that catapulted Vanessa Hudgens to bonafide celebrity status, the actress has been around in the industry for quite some time. Her first television credit — a guest role on Still Standing — dates back to 2002. She filmed her first movie, 2003’s Thirteen, at the age of 13. By the time she starred in High School Musical, Hudgens had more than half a dozen credits under her belt. It’s no wonder then that by the end of her 20s she felt ready to start a new chapter of her life. “I’m in the beginning of my second act,” the actress told Inquirer.net in 2018, weeks before her 30th birthday.
Hudgens added that her 20s were “epic” and she “learned so much,” but she often struggled to find a sense of purpose. By the end of her 20s, though, she said she was “getting a handle on things” and “putting all the right ducks in a row,” hinting at an even more impressive career ahead of her.
This is how Vanessa Hudgens escaped the child star curse
While many former child stars go through a rebellious phase and are found in the tabloids with all sorts of scandals, Vanessa Hudgens made the transition from child star to leading lady with relative ease. Hudgens credits her family and her friends with keeping her grounded, telling Cosmopolitan that her “job isn’t everything” and her relationships outside of work remind her of what’s important. Hudgens added that she feels it’s vital to “have a group of friends that reflects the type of person you want to be.”
The fact that she never developed a reputation as a party girl isn’t all about the company she has kept over the years, though. It helped greatly that Hudgens was never really into the club scene. She told the publication she “actually despise[s]” going to clubs. She does, however, like to go to the occasional rave, traveling to places like New York City and Berlin. “That’s something that makes me who I am and allows my soul to flourish,” she said.
Transitioning to action films was easy thanks to Vanessa Hudgens' dance background
Bad Boys for Life, an action comedy starring Vanessa Hudgens alongside Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, came out in January 2020. This film helped establish Hudgens as an action star, but it wasn’t her first action movie. Hudgens had previously starred in 2019’s Polar and 2011’s Sucker Punch. It wasn’t as big of a leap as some may have thought for the star to break into action films, as her background in dance had already prepared her for action sequences.
Hudgens told The Hollywood Reporter that she views action as “a piece of choreography.” She said that learning an action sequence starts off with the steps and moves and starts slow before getting the entire thing up to speed. Action movies are quite a thrill for Hudgens, who said that she enjoys “being physical” and throwing all of her body into her work. Who knew Bad Boys for Life had so much in common with High School Musical?
Vanessa Hudgens thrives in live performances
A lot of people may not realize that, in addition to her thriving film and television career, Vanessa Hudgens is also a Broadway star. As noted by The New York Times, the actress made her Broadway debut in Gigi in 2015. While starring on stage may have been daunting for a star who had never tread the boards, for Hudgens, who got her start acting in plays at the age of seven, it was something of a homecoming. “That is my home base,” she told The Hollywood Reporter of performing live. “That is my place to thrive.”
Hudgens admitted that she does get nervous before a performance, but she finds it “really exciting because anything can happen” and she gets so caught up in the moment when performing live that everything else fades into the background.
Hudgens hasn’t limited her live performances to just theater. She’s also appeared in televised live performances, including Grease Live! and Rent: Live.
Vanessa Hudgens really wants to star in a horror flick
It seems like Vanessa Hudgens has done a little bit of everything already. She’s shown off her musical chops and even proven that she has what it takes to be an action star. That doesn’t mean she’s checked off every item on her bucket list, though. Hudgens told The Hollywood Reporter that there are a lot of other kinds of films she’d like to have the opportunity to be in, including a fantasy film like one of her childhood favorites, Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story. The actress also has her eyes set on a period piece. But that’s not all.
One thing she’s really looking forward to is becoming a scream queen. “I love horror films very, very dearly,” she said, adding that she’s “very excited to find that right project and go on that journey.” One thing is certain: Whatever project Hudgens decides to tackle, she will put everything she has into the role.
Vanessa Hudgens is "a definite hippie"
While Vanessa Hudgens grew up in the Catholic faith, she hasn’t always been particularly religious, telling The New York Times that she “never felt very connected to it.” As an adult, though, she began to attend megachurch Hillsong, a church that is popular with many young celebrities including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Hailee Steinfeld (as noted by Vox). Hudgens said that joining the trendy church helped her to deepen her faith and find her “own personal relationship with Jesus.”
Hudgens found organized religion, but she also has her own spirituality outside of church. The High School Musical star called herself “a definite hippie” who embraces a free-spirited way of life. She incorporates crystals, dreamcatchers, and flowers into her personal brand of spirituality and loves nature. “I’m literally my happiest self when I’m dancing half naked on a grass field listening to Led Zeppelin,” said the actress.
Vanessa Hudgens hasn't always been an outspoken feminist
While Vanessa Hudgens is a feminist these days and isn’t afraid to weigh in on the #MeToo movement and how she has faced inappropriate behavior in Hollywood, she hasn’t always been so empowered. There was a time that the actress was “on the fence” about feminism, telling The New York Times that she previously felt that the feminist movement was “overpowering and so aggressive” and was more about displacing men than empowering women.
Hudgens has changed her views on feminism, in large part because of Beyoncé who she said is “killing the game” and also because of what she describes as a growing wave of feminists who “are truly about equal rights for women.”
While she may have had conflicting views about feminism, it’s clear Hudgens has always known her worth. She told Cosmopolitan that she has “been talked to in ways that are not appropriate” but that she has always stood up for herself. “I’m the type of person in any situation, whether it’s an audition or in work, if I feel uncomfortable, I’m going to walk away or let that person know,” she said, adding that if people don’t respect her boundaries “they can f*** off.”
Learning how to manage money was tricky for Vanessa Hudgens
Becoming famous and wealthy in one fell swoop was not the easiest of transitions for Vanessa Hudgens. The star didn’t grow up with a lot of money, telling InStyle that neither of her parents came from money and she “grew up very, very conservatively,” not even riding on a plane until she was 14 years old. Growing up, any talk about money was focused on how to make ends meet.
This made it difficult for Hudgens to learn to manage money once she found her bank account bursting, and she ended up splurging quite a bit, saying that she “didn’t really know how hard you have to work to make sure that you have an income.” Hudgens has learned to keep the temptation to live lavishly in check, though, revealing her motto when it comes to shopping is to “think twice” and only buy something “if you can’t stop thinking about it.”
Vanessa Hudgens is a bit of a method actor
Every actor approaches their craft in their own way. Some dive in headfirst while others do a lot of research before preparing to take on a role. Still others, like Vanessa Hudgens’ Spring Breakers costar James Franco, immerse themselves so fully in a role that they stay completely in character for the entire duration of a project. Hudgens told Vanity Fair that she didn’t get to know Franco very well on set, as he never broke character.
While she considers herself a method actor to an extent, Hudgens doesn’t take things as far as Franco. While she stays in character on set — she said that on the Spring Breakers set she “would run around and act like [a] complete idiot” to “stay in that mindset” of her character — there’s definitely a limit. “Of course I’m going to break from that when I get home, but it’s nice to stay in that ballpark of your character,” she said.
Vanessa Hudgens caused a massive controversy with her comments about the coronavirus pandemic
Vanessa Hudgens caused a stir in the midst of the 2020 novel coronavirus outbreak. In an Instagram Live video (via BBC News) she said that she felt that the response to the pandemic was overkill, implying that people were overly worried about it. “Even if everybody gets it, like yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible… but inevitable?” she said.
After facing immense backlash, Hudgens issued an apology. The actress admitted that her comments had been “insensitive” and “not at all appropriate” in a tweet, calling the backlash “a huge wake up call” about the impact her words have on her millions of fans. As noted by BBC News, she later clarified in another Instagram video that she was practicing social distancing and not ignoring the threat of coronavirus.
Hudgens also made a donation to Feeding America, she revealed on Instagram. The star added, “Let’s help each other out rather than freaking the f*** out.”
This is why Vanessa Hudgens loves making Christmas movies
While Vanessa Hudgens achieved her dream of starring in emotional and gritty indie films, she hasn’t left lighthearted fare completely behind. The actress developed a reputation as a holiday star after starring in the popular Netflix Christmas movies The Princess Switch and The Knight Before Christmas. The actress revealed that she loves making such heartwarming films. Even though Christmas movies tend to be filled with the magic of the season, Hudgens said in an interview with Glamour that making them is no less stressful than making any other kind of movie. “It’s a lot of work,” she said.
All that work is worth it for Hudgens, though, who is happy that Christmas movies are starting to be taken more seriously. “They’re shining at their brightest, as they should because they’re about joy and magic and love and bringing magic to your life,” she said. Hudgens added that “the world is a crazy place” and Christmas movies can provide a much-needed respite.
Vanessa Hudgens is a pescatarian
While Vanessa Hudgens grew up eating meat, she’s since converted to pescatarianism. She told Women’s Health that she quit eating meat after being inspired by Glass Walls, a documentary by Paul McCartney and the animal rights group PETA. Before that, she said she “ate bacon for breakfast every single morning.” She has since swapped out that bacon for arugula and loves a variety of plant-based foods, including cashew cheese and oat milk. Hudgens incorporates a lot of smoothies in her diet and keeps healthy with an antioxidant smoothie loaded with fruits and coconut oil. “I try to get enough healthy fats, protein, and foods that give me energy,” she said.
For Hudgens, being healthy is a lifestyle. She is “in love” with skincare and also works out at least six times a week to stay in shape, saying that keeping fit is a huge confidence boost for her. Hudgens also practices intermittent fasting.
Vanessa Hudgens used to "feel less than" because of her height
It’s hard to imagine Vanessa Hudgens as anything less than confident. She’s a beautiful woman, after all, not to mention incredibly talented. But, like so many of us, the actress has struggled with her body image. The 5’3″ beauty told Women’s Health that she often felt insecure growing up because of her height. “Because I’m very petite, I’ve always felt that women who are taller are smarter and more powerful,” she said.
Hudgens eventually grew more confident, though, saying that she learned how to “take up space without height” and began to draw strength from her achievements and her voice. The actress also boosts her self-esteem through her wardrobe, which includes a variety of powerful pantsuits.
Hudgens told People that she has struggled with her stomach “pooch,” but she also embraces her body, saying that she appreciates it “for simply just doing what it does.” Hudgens added that she is grateful to be healthy and that this has “helped me love my body a little more.”
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