Vanessa Hudgens (born December 14, 1988) is an American actress and singer. Hudgens rose to prominence playing Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. Hudgens has also appeared in various films and television series for the Disney Channel. She had her feature film debut in the 2003 film Thirteen, a teenage drama in which Hudgens had a supporting role. She had mainstream success following the release of the High School Musical trilogy, and her relationship with co-star Zac Efron was heavily publicized. Her appearance in the series helped make her a household name. Songs from the films also charted worldwide, with the song “Breaking Free” peaking inside the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. This led to Hudgens releasing her debut album, V, on September 26, 2006 which entered the Billboard 200 at number 24, and was later certified gold. Her second album, Identified, was released on July 1, 2008 in the United States.
Since the release of her albums and the High School Musical franchise, Hudgens has focused on her acting career. She has appeared in the films Bandslam (2009), Beastly (2011), Sucker Punch (2011), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), Spring Breakers (2013), and Machete Kills (2013). She has also played the title role in the Broadway musical Gigi in 2015, and the role of Rizzo in Grease: Live in 2016.
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.