Vanessa Hudgens debut album V was released on September 26, 2006. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number twenty four, and was later certified Gold. Hudgens released her second album, Identified, on July 1, 2008 in the U.S. Hudgens' fame has also been marked by scandal caused by the release of private, self-taken nude photographs on the Internet without her permission.
Vanessa Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and has lived with her parents throughout the West Coast from Oregon to Southern California. Her mother Gina (née Guangco),held a succession of office jobs, and her father Gregory Hudgens was a firefighter. She has a younger sister, Stella Hudgens, who is also an actress. She was raised as a Roman Catholic Hudgens is of mixed cultural background, as her father is of Irish and Native American descent, and her mother, a native of Manila Philippines, is of Chinese-Filipino-Spanish descent. All of her grandparents were musicians.
Starting at the age of eight, Vanessa 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.
In 2003, Vanessa Hudgens played a minor role in the independent drama film Thirteen, in which she played Noel, a friend of a lead character Tracy, (played by Evan Rachel Wood). The film was critically successful, receiving generally favorable reviews, and its receipts surpassed its $4 million budget. Vanessa Hudgens subsequently landed a role in the 2004 science fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds as Tintin. This film was commercially and critically unsuccessful, and received heavy criticism throughout the Internet prior to its release.
In late 2005 Vanessa Hudgens appeared in television shows such as Quintuplets, Still Standing, The Brothers García, Drake & Josh, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
In late 2005 she landed her breakout role of shy and meek Gabriella Montez in High School Musical, opposite to Zac Efron. Her performance received numerous nominations and awards. With the success of the film, the BBC predicted that Hudgens would be a "household name" in the US.
In 2007, Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella Montez in the sequel of High School Musical, High School Musical 2. Virginia Heffernan of TV Review described Vanessa Hudgens performance as "matte," as she "glows like a proper ingénue".
Hudgens reprised her role as Gabriella Montez in High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Her performance in the film prompted her win for "Favorite Movie Actress" in the 2009 Kids Choice Awards.
After High School Musical, Hudgens remarked that she will focus on acting and films while "taking a break" from her music career as a solo artist. She played a supporting role in a musical comedy Bandslam, which was released theatrically on August 14, 2009. Hudgens plays "Sa5m", a 15-year-old awkward freshman with untapped talents. Although Bandslam was commercially unsuccessful, Hudgens's performance received praise from critics. David Waddington of the North Wales Pioneer noted that Vanessa Hudgens"outshines the rest of the cast, failing to fit in with the outcast narrative and making the inevitable climactic ending all the more expected," and Philip French of The Guardian compared her acting to Thandie Newton and Dorothy Parker.
Vanessa Hudgens performed a musical number with other artists during the 81st Academy Awards.Hudgens later provided voice roles in an episode of Robot Chicken. Hudgens' involvement in Beastly, a film based on Alex Flinn's novel of the same name, was announced in early 2009. She played one of the main characters in the film, Linda Taylor. Hudgens described her as, "...the "beauty" of the story but not the stereotypical beauty everyone thinks of." Along with Beastly co-star, Alex Pettyfer, Hudgens was recognized as ShoWest stars of Tomorrow. Hudgens was later cast in an action film, Sucker Punch, directed by Zack Snyder. She played Blondie, an institutionalized girl in an asylum. The film was released in March 2011.
After so many years, Vanessa Hudgens returned to theater productions and starred in the musical Rent as Mimi. The stage production ran from August 6–8, 2010 at the Hollywood Bowl. Her involvement in the production drew negative comments, but director Neil Patrick Harris defended his decision with casting Hudgens by saying, "Vanessa Hudgens is awesome. She's a friend. I asked her to come in and sing to make sure she had the chops for it. And she was very committed and seemed great."
In October 2010, it was announced that Hudgens will be joining the sequel to the 2008 film Journey to the Center of the Earth alongside Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson, playing Hutcherson's love interest. In April 2011, it was reported that she would star in an indie film, Gimme Shelter with Brendan Fraser, written and directed by Ron Krauss. Hudgens will also play Cindy Paulson in The Frozen Ground, a film based on the Robert Hanson case wherein she plays as his only victim who escaped. She co-stars with John Cusack and Nicolas Cage. In November 2011, Hudgens announced on her official website that she will be starring with Selena Gomez, James Franco and Emma Roberts in Spring Breakers.
Vanessa Hudgens with Drew Seeley at the High School Musical: The Concert tour, January 3, 2007
Hudgens received a recording contract with Hollywood Records. On September 2006 her debut album entitled V was released. It 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. Her second single was "Say OK". Billboard readers chose "V" as the seventh best album of the year. Hudgens was named Female Breakout Singer of the year at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards.
Hudgens also participated in the nationwide High School Musical: The Concert tour in fall 2006, performing the songs from the soundtrack album as well as the three songs from her debut album. She sang the duet "Still There For Me" with Corbin Bleu for his debut album.
In December 2007, she sang to George Bush, who was then the president of the U.S., and his family, at The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. with other singers at a Christmas event.
Her second album, Identified, which received generally favorable reviews, was released on July 1, 2008, debuting at #23 on the Billboard 200. The album's lead single was "Sneakernight", which was a moderate commercial success, peaking at #88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #94 on the Australian Singles Chart. Hudgens's Identified Summer Tour began on August 1, 2008 and ended on September 9 of the same year.