Vanessa Anne Hudgens is an American actress and singer, who is best known for her portrayal of the character Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical series. She also earned critical acclaim for her role in the 2009 film Bandslam. Hudgens was born in Salinas, California, and lived all over the West Coast – from Oregon to Southern California – with her parents, Gina, who held a succession of office jobs, and Gregory Hudgens, a firefighter. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and has a younger sister, Stella Hudgens, who is also an actress.
In 2003, Hudgens played a minor role in the independent drama film Thirteen, where she plays 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. Hudgens subsequently landed a role in the 2004 science fiction-adventure film Thunderbirds as Tintin.