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Raised as a Roman Catholic, Vanessa Hudgens has a mixed ethnic background, including Native American, Irish, Filipino, Chinese and Spanish. Vanessa does not speak Tagalog but says that her mother tried to teach her when she was younger. She stated that she loves Filipino food and is proud to be a Filipina.
At the age of 7, Vanessa performed in musical theatre and appeared in local productions of "Carousel," "The Wizard of Oz," "The King and I," among others. Her family relocated from Salinas to Los Angeles so Vanessa could pursue her acting career. She briefly attended Orange County High School of the Arts, but was subsequently homeschooled by tutors.
At age 13, Vanessa Hudgens made her TV debut on the comedy "Standing Still," and "Robbery Homicide Division." before appearing in the movie, "Thirteen." She also appeared in the Nickelodeon show "Drake & Josh."
But it was her role as Gabriella Montez in Disney's made-for-TV film "High School Musical" that put her on the map. The film became the highest rated program in Disney Channel history (until the premiere of "The Cheetah Girls 2") and the soundtrack because the top-selling album of 2006. Vanessa Hudgens sang lead vocals in several of the songs.
After her appearance, Vanessa Hudgens released a solo album, "V", which went to number 24 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Her second album, "Identified," came out in 2008.
In 2007, Vanessa Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella in "High School Musical 2" which became the highest-rated basic cable broadcast in history and the soundtrack landed at the No. 1 spot on Billboard. Forbes magazine included her in its list of "Young Hollywood's Top Earning Stars." "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" followed soon thereafter.
While caught in Hawaii kissing Zac Efron, the press dubbed the couple "Zanessa." Nude photos surfaced of Vanessa Hudgens and she claimed they were sent to Drake Bell when she was only 16. She said to Seventeen, "It was very traumatic, and I am extremely upset it happened. I hope all my fans can learn from my mistake and make smart decisions."
But nude photos from her mobile phone surfaced for a second time in 2009. She told Allure, "Whenever anybody asks me, would I do nudity in a film, if I say that it's something I'm not comfortable with, they're like, 'Bullshit, you've already done it.' If anything, it makes it more embarrassing, because that was a private thing. It's screwed up that someone screwed me over like that. At least some people are learning from my mistake."
She lives in Studio City, CA.