Our middle school girl crush Vanessa Hudgens, has been up to a lot since her High School Musical days. Though she doesn’t frequent pop culture news reports as much as other former Disney Channel stars (here’s looking at you, Miley), she still remains on our radar. Recently, the 27-year-old actress announced that her DC Comics comedy pilot, Powerless has been picked up for a full-season run on NBC.
Powerless, which has no determined premiere date, is a workplace comedy that revolves around characters from the DC universe. The new TV show will focus on what it’s like to be a normal person living in a city filled with superheroes. Hudgens, who plays Emily Locke, is an insurance claims adjuster who loves her job.
In light of Vanessa’s recent success, we’ve decided to catch you up on what this former Disney Channel-turned-DC Comics star has been up to since her 2008 High School Musical graduation.
From Bandslam (2009) to her most recent theatrical release Freaks of Nature (2015), Vanessa has starred in her fair share of movies since High School Musical 3. Though her roles in Beastly and Journey 2 were standouts in their own right, there are three movie roles in particular that we believe transformed Vanessa Hudgens from baby-faced Gabriella Montez to the versatile actress that she is today.
Sucker Punch (2011) Though this movie didn’t reach Avengers or Watchmen levels of success, it was Hudgens’ first role post High School Musical that redefined how she was perceived as an actress. Directed by Zack Snyder, the fantasy-action film also starred Emily Browning and Jena Malone. Hudgens played Blondie, the established bad ass of the Sucker Punch girl group.
Spring Breakers (2012) It’s safe to say that Spring Breakers was Vanessa’s most publicized movie since her High School Musical days thanks to its taboo topics of sex, drugs and violence. Candy, her role in the movie, was an experimental young adult who stole, did drugs and participated in a murder. Starring alongside Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson, this movie was anything but Disney.
Gimme Shelter (2013) Gimmie Shelter can be considered one of Hudgens’ more serious roles. Vanessa plays Apple, a pregnant and homeless teenager who flees from her abusive mother. Hudgens underwent a drastic change for this movie role, almost to the point where she was unrecognizable. To fully immerse herself into the character, Hudgens gained 15 pounds, chopped off her luscious locks, and even stayed at a homeless shelter.
Though Hudgens is no longer recording albums and singing about sneakers, in many ways, Vanessa has stuck to her musical roots. In less than a year, Vanessa has managed to star in two popular musicals: the Broadway reprisal of the classic musical Gigi and the live television reprisal of Grease.
Gigi In 2015, Vanessa starred in her first Broadway production as the leading role, Gigi. Though Gigi had mediocre ticket sales and was snubbed from the Tony Awards, Hudgens described the experience as “amazing” and “the hardest [she’s] ever worked.”
Grease: Live! Earlier this year, following the tragic passing of her father the night before, Vanessa took to the live stage to perform in the Fox production of Grease. Hudgens played Betty Rizzo, the tough and sarcastic leader of the T-Birds. Her performance of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” received raving reviews from the likes of fans and celebrities alike.
Imagine you had Vanessa Hudgens' day, and doing that.
What a superhero.
In total awe.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) February 1, 2016
Since High School Musical, Vanessa Hudgens has become a fashion icon in her own right. Vanessa (aka the Coachella queen) is known for her bohemian sense of style. When Coachella rolls around each year, you can depend on the former High School Musical star to upstage every attendee with her love for floral prints, maxi dresses, and wide leg pants.
Since her breakup with High School Musical co-star Zac Efron, Vanessa has been romantically linked to Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson. She and current boo Austin Butler have been giving us #RelationshipGoals since 2011.
Hudgens keeps a close relationship with sister, Stella Hudgens, and thankfully, is still best friends with former High School Musical co-star, Ashley Tisdale. She was even a bridesmaid in Tisdale’s wedding in 2014. Wildcats are all in it together for life!