The Most Controversial Vanessa Hudgens Moments

Vanessa Hudgens has Disney to thank for much of her career. She had her big breakout role in 2006's High School Musical, playing Gabriella Montez in the made-for-TV movie — and from that moment on, she's managed to maintain a pretty steady workflow. First, Hudgens built up her resume by sticking with Disney, appearing in two High School Musical sequels, as well as on the popular series, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. The former Disney Channel starlet then followed that up with a slew of roles on the big screen, ranging from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's family-friendly action-adventure flick, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, to the controversial James Franco-fronted Spring Breakers.

As of 2020, Vanessa Hudgens' net worth was a cool $14 million, and that, just like her career trajectory, can definitely be traced back to Disney. However, despite getting her start with such a wholesome, family-oriented brand, Hudgens has had her share of eyebrow-raising, criticism-inducing moments, ranging from on-set antics to social media rants. Here are the most controversial Vanessa Hudgens moments so far.

Vanessa Hudgens didn't always keep it professional on-set

Not only did High School Musical help launch Vanessa Hudgens' career, but it also introduced her to Zac Efron, who would become her boyfriend for four years. While the young actors were able to face newfound fame together, being romantically involved co-workers also created problems. As Hudgens told The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast in 2019, becoming famous overnight was a "really weird foreign thing to go through, and by being in a relationship, it kind of kept me stabilized and grounded, and I had someone to lean on who was going through it as well." 

The flip side of that, however, was bringing drama on-set as the couple filmed two sequels. As it turns out, Hudgens and Efron, who dated from 2006 to 2010, didn't enjoy a picture-perfect romance and it threatened to jeopardize their professionalism. "I remember one time we did have a fight and it was while we were at rehearsals," Hudgens recalled. "I remember Kenny Ortega coming around the corner with the most concerned look on his face like, 'Oh no, is our movie going to fall apart right now?'" 

Luckily, they worked past it. "I pride myself on being a professional, so I was like, that aside we are going to move forward and do what we need to do ... and we sorted it all out," Hudgens concluded. Here's hoping that one fight was merely a blip in the HSM filming experience.

Her sweet Disney image was tarnished

Vanessa Hudgens may have kicked off her career as a Disney star, but her sweet, innocent image was tarnished when, in 2007, nude photos of the actress were leaked online. At the time, an 18-year-old Hudgens explained that the photos had been taken privately, but she apologized, saying (via People), "I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends."

Jump to 2009, when a second photo scandal rocked Hudgens' world, as topless images of the young actress appeared online. Initially, Hudgens appeared to have forgotten all about her 2007 regret, but as a source cited by E! News quickly clarified, that was simply not the case. "She learned her lesson," the insider dished. "She hasn't done anything like that since the first ones came out. These new ones are actually old."

Despite initially issuing an apology, the actress told Cosmopolitan UK in 2019 that the leak had actually been "a really traumatizing thing for me." Hudgens slammed, "It's really f**ked up that people feel like they are entitled enough to share something that personal with the world." We have to side with Hudgens on this one.

Vanessa Hudgens' involvement in The Notebook musical was questioned

In what was a case of truly bad timing, it was confirmed that Vanessa Hudgens would lead the 2019 table read for a stage adaptation of The Notebook at the same time The Daily Beast reported that the author of the original book, Nicholas Sparks, had tried to ban LGBTQ+ students from the Christian prep school. Sparks, who co-founded the Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern, N.C., was sued by the school's former headmaster and CEO, Saul Benjamin, who claimed, "Sparks and members of the Board unapologetically marginalized, bullied, and harassed members of the School community whose religious views and/or identities did not conform to their religiously driven, bigoted preconceptions."

Given that revelation, Hudgens' involvement with a Sparks project was immediately scrutinized on social media. As one Twitter user called her out by name, writing, "No, sweetie, we don't do Nicholas Sparks stuff anymore....", another slammed (via TooFab), "Oh hellll no. Nicholas Sparks homophobic a** doesn't get to have his work performed on Broadway. #cancelled."

Did Vanessa Hudgens promote an 'unhealthy' way to lose weight?

When asked to share her diet and exercise secrets with People in 2019, Vanessa Hudgens revealed that she's a firm believer in the power of both intermittent fasting and the keto diet. While she was quick to note that these methods aren't right for everyone — "Everyone's different of course, but for me, that's what's been the most beneficial so far," she said — her support of the latter landed her in hot water.

That April, Hudgens shared a sponsored post on Instagram in which she promoted Slim Fast's new Fat Bomb, gushing, "Finally the perfect Keto snack!!" As soon as the ad was posted, however, followers were quick to turn on her, and skeptics of the high-fat, low-carb diet came out in full force in the comments section. "Stop promoting keto to influential minds" wrote one critic, while another added, "Please stop advertising unhealthy methods to lose weight." Yet another slammed, "You talk so much about being fit and working out and then you promote unhealthy and not effective methods to lose weight."

Vanessa Hudgens dreams of working with Woody Allen

Woody Allen has long been at the center of a sexual abuse controversy after being accused by his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, of assaulting her when she was seven years old — but that news hasn't tarnished Vanessa Hudgens' opinion of him as a director. While many individuals and companies have chosen to distance themselves from the filmmaker (Hachette Book Group, for example, announced it would no longer be publishing Allen's autobiography, Apropos of Nothing, in March 2020 following backlash), Hudgens is simply not one of them.

In a November 2019 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the actress was asked which dream directors she'd love to work with and listed off the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Yorgos Lanthimos, Gaspar Noé, and ... Woody Allen. "I love Woody Allen films," Hudgens gushed. "Vicky Christina Barcelona is one of my favorite movies." When the reporter asked whether she's not bothered by the allegations facing Allen, Hudgens stood her ground, saying, "I don't know him. I've never met him. I only know what I've heard. And the fact is, I love his films and I love the romantic worlds that are created within [them]." Obviously, this didn't go down too well on Twitter.

That time she was accused of... moaning too much

It seems Vanessa Hudgens can't catch a break on social media. In March 2020, the tattoo lover took to Instagram to show off the latest addition to her ink collection and was soon called out for ... moaning too much. We'll explain. The actress first posted a snap of the new racy angel on her ribs, courtesy of tattoo artist Dragon, joking, "Divine feminine angel. Not me.... my tat. But you can call me that, if you want to."

Clearly happy with the result, Hudgens followed up the photo with a video of herself seeing the completed work for the first time. "Lol this was the first time I saw it. I never peeked," she wrote in the caption of the clip, which showed her oohing and ahhing in the mirror. Problem is, many found her sounds of joy to be a little too, um, sexual. "lol moanin it up" wrote one follower, as another quipped, "I'm feeling some type of way after hearing that reaction."

Rather than ignoring the remarks, Hudgens took to Instagram Stories to clap back, slamming (via Canoe), "Just wanna say y'all better stop with the moaning s**t because it's not like I made a video and was like, 'I'm gonna moan in this video.' No, that's just my reaction." She added, "So no, I don't moan all the time."

Vanessa Hudgens made light of the coronavirus pandemic

In March 2020, Vanessa Hudgens had her most controversial moment to date when she took to Instagram Live and made light of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking about increasing social distancing efforts happening around the country, she said (via NBC News), "Um, yeah, 'til July sounds like a bunch of bulls**t. I'm sorry. It's a virus, I get it. Like, I respect it." Hudgens continued, "But at the same time, like, even if everybody gets it, like, yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible but, like, inevitable?"

Unsurprisingly, the Twittersphere reaction was swift and brutal — "The callousness is more of a disease than Covid 19," wrote one person on Twitter — prompting Hudgens to return to Instagram Live. Rather than offering a straight-up apology, however, she accused people of taking her comments "out of context," but did clarify that she was in fact "at home and in lockdown." She added, "And that's what I hope you guys are doing, too, in full quarantine and staying safe and sane."

It wasn't until later that Hudgens released an actual apology on Twitter, writing, "I realize my words were insensitive and not at all appropriate for the situation our country and the world are in right now. This has been a huge wake up call to the significance my words have, now more than ever." She concluded, "I'm sending safe wishes to everyone to stay safe and healthy during this crazy time."