Vanessa Anne Hudgens (born December 14, 1988) is an American actress and singer. Her father, who died of cancer in February 2016 was of Irish, French and Native American descent, and her mother is Filipina, a native of the island of Mindanao.

After working in local theater plays and television commercials in her childhood, Hudgens made her screen debut in the 2003 drama film Thirteen as Noel.

She next starred in the 2004 science-fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds before rising to fame portraying Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical film series (2006–2008), which brought her significant mainstream media success. She also earned critical acclaim in the 2009 film Bandslam and featured in movies like Sucker Punch, Second Act, Bad Boys for Life and Tick Tick…Boom!

Since bursting into the limelight as a child, Hudgens has remained relevant and continues to put out quality work in both music and acting. We will take a look at her life so far and what she is up to now.

Early inroads into entertainment

Starting in 1998 at age 10, 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. She soon began auditioning for commercials and television shows, and her family moved to Los Angeles after she won a role in a television commercial.

She began her acting career at age 15 and landed her first role in an episode of the sitcom Still Standing, airing on CBS in 2002. Later that year, she guest starred in an episode of the series Robbery Homicide Division, airing on CBS.

Before Hudgens landed her breakout role as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical, had made appearances in television shows such as Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

High School Musical was a major hit with audiences and her performance earned plenty of praise along with numerous nominations and awards. The film spun several sequels and made her a household name in the US.

Music career

Having also garnered attention for her singing on High School Musical, Hudgens received a recording contract with Hollywood Records. In September 2006, she released her debut album entitled V which 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 and her second single was “Say OK”. Billboard readers chose “V” as the seventh best album of the year while Hudgens was named Female Breakout Singer of the year at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards.

Hudgens released her second album, Identified, on July 1, 2008, in the U.S.

Mainstream breakthrough and upcoming projects

Having established herself as a household name, Hudgens started getting mainstream breakthroughs in high profile projects. She starred as one of the five leads in the 2011 action film Sucker Punch, appeared alongside Dwayne Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and featured in the third installment in the Bad Boys franchise, Bad Boys for Life.

For upcoming projects, Hudgens will star in Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe’s film Downtown Owl, alongside Rabe, Ed Harris, Finn Wittrock, Jack Dylan Grazer, and August Blanco Rosenstein. It is an adaption of Chuck Klosterman’s 2008 novel of the same name, and is being produced by Sony Pictures’ production label Stage 6 Films

Hudgens has also signed to lead and executive produce the trucker adventure-drama film Big Rig.

A delight for brands and products

Beyond entertainment, Hudgens has enjoyed some success as a celebrity brand influencer. She has endorsed a wide range of product types in fields including Health and Beauty, Clothing, Accessories and even Sportsbooks.

Some of the brands Hudgens endorses include Bongo, Candie’s, Eckö and Mobio iNsider. She also signed a deal to be a celebrity ambassador for prominent sports betting brand BetMGM and appeared on several promotional materials promoting the BetMGM Bonus.

Vanessa insists on Filipino heritage

Hudgens recently opened up about her heritage, addressing rumors about her being Latina and insisting that she is a proud Filipino. She explained that she understands why people started thinking that at the early stages of her career, and shared her journey as a POC in the entertainment and beauty industry.

The obvious misconceptions came about due to her iconic role as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical which led people to believe she is Latina. However, Hudgens continues to draw attention to her true ethnicity.

Hudgens made her first trip to the Philippines with her family in 2023. The Journey was a deep dive into Filipino culture, spirituality, and community. She described it in an interview with Allure as a “beautiful experience,” stressing how “it doesn’t matter how much you have… it’s about the people you choose to fill your life with.”

Vanessa is engaged to baseball star Cole Tucker

In 2021, Hudgens confirmed via Instagram that she was in a relationship with Major League Baseball shortstop Cole Tucker. Hudgens and Tucker got engaged at the end of 2022 and are reportedly planning their wedding