American actress and singer Vanessa Anne Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, on December 14th, 1988. Hudgens started acting in musical productions when she was ten years old. In 2000, after landing her first television commercial, she moved with her family to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress. She attended Orange County High School of the Arts for a short time before switching to homeschooling.
Vanessa’s first acting gig was in the sitcom Still Standing in 2002, followed by an episode of the police series Robbery Homicide Division. She made her big screen debut in a small role in 2003’s teen drama, Thirteen, which received positive reviews despite not doing so well in the box office. Hudgens’ next feature film was in Thunderbirds, a remake based on the 1960s television series, but it failed to impress the critics. In 2006, she guest-starred in sitcoms Drake & Josh and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. That same year, Vanessa was cast as one of the leads in Disney Channel’s next movie, titled High School Musical, for which she recorded several songs. The film proved to be a commercial success and launched Vanessa and her co-stars to fame. Prompted by the success of the movie, she later released her debut album, V, to favorable reviews. To promote her album, Hudgens performed as the opening act for The Cheetah Girls’ tour and the High School Musical: The Concert tour.
Hudgens reprized her role in both High School Musical sequels, in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The third installment, High School Musical: Senior, was the only film of the franchise to be shown in cinemas, turning into a box office hit upon release. In 2008, Vanessa’s second album, Identified, came out, but it didn’t perform as well as its predecessor. She began to focus more on her acting career, and her credits of this time include Bandslam (2009), Beastly (2011), Sucker Punch (2011), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), and Spring Breakers (2013). In 2010, she starred in a production of Rent at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, under the direction of actor Neil Patrick Harris.
Proving her acting range, Hudgens has appeared in a wide variety of movies, such as comedy crime Spring Breakers (2013), independent drama Gimme Shelter (2014), and comedy horror Freaks of Nature (2015). In 2017, she was cast in the short-lived sitcom Powerless, and also served as judge in the fourteenth season of So You Think You Can Dance (and returned for its fifteenth season as well). Subsequent roles included comedies The Princess Switch and Second Act (2018), Polar (2019), and Netflix’s The Knight Before Christmas (2019, also as a producer). Hudgens joined the Bad Boys franchise, appearing in the third movie Bad Boys for Life, in 2020. The film was a commercial success.
Vanessa teamed up with Netflix once more to star and produce in The Princess Switch sequels, The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020) and The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (2021). She can also be seen in the prequel movie Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas (2021), the critically-acclaimed musical Tick, Tick… Boom! and the upcoming Downtown Owl, based on a book by the same name.