Born December 14th, 1988, actress Vanessa Hudgens showed a talent for performing so early in life that she was appearing on-stage in musicals by the time she was eight years old. After cutting her teeth in shows like The Wizard of Oz, Carousel, and The Music Man, Hudgens won an audition for a commercial, which was the catalyst her career needed to transplant her to L.A. Her feature-film debut came in 2002 with the movie Thirteen, though it wasn't until a few years later that her popularity skyrocketed when she was cast in the Disney TV movie High School Musical. A chance both to showcase her charisma and her singing ability, the movie became a huge success that was wildly popular among kids and preteens, and the young actress signed on for the sequel while heading into the studio to record her first solo CD.
Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella Montez for High School Musical 2 in 2007, and again for High School Musical 3: Senior Year in 2009. Fresh off the success from the High School Musical franchise, Hudgens decided to further focus on her acting career, and took on a role of a socially awkward teenager for the musical comedy Bandslam. Hudgens’ performance was praised despite the film’s lack of mainstream success. 2011 found the actress starring in Beastly, a modern day take on Beauty & the Beast in which she played (what else?) the beauty, though her role in sucker punch, in which she played a mental patient, took her out of her comfort zone. Hudgens joined the cast of 2012’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (the follow-up to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth), which also starred Dwayne Johnson and Joh Hutcherson.
She finally broke out of her family-friendly mold with Spring Breakers (2012), directed by Harmony Korine, playing one of a group of girls that robs a restaurant to fuel their spring break trip. Opposite James Franco, Ashley Benson and Selena Gomez, the film had a buzzy marketing campaign, featuring Hudgens and the other girls in bikinis. The following year, she appeared in Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills. In 2015, she made her Broadway debut as the title character in Gigi.
In early 2016, she played Rizzo in Fox's Grease: Live. Hudgen's father succumed to cancer the day before the broadcast, and she was widely praised for going on with show and turning in a strong performance.