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Singer/Actress Enjoying Life After "High School Musical"

Of the Oakland Press

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With apologies to “Hannah Montana” upstart Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens may well be the Disney Channel’s hottest star of the moment.

The 17-year-old is, of course, the star of the blockbuster “High School Musical,” playing brainy fi sh-out-of-water Gabriella Montez. She’s parlayed that into a recording career of her own, with a debut album, “V” (it stands for “variety,” she says) that’s sold more than 98,000 copies since its September release. What’s life like after “High School”? Pretty crazy, according to Hudgens:

What’s life like for you these days?

Hudgens: I don’t know. (laughs) It really hasn’t hit me. Everything that’s happened this year seemed pretty unrealistic. I never would’ve thought I’d be doing this. It’s really neat but feels like a dream.

You almost didn’t try out for “High School Musical,” right?

Hudgens: Yeah. Before “High School Musical,” I was auditioning for Disney a lot, and it never seemed to click. When “High School Musical” came along I said, “Oh, gosh, what’s the point? I’m not gonna audition.” But my mom just had a hunch about it. I grew up doing musicals, so she said, “You might as well give it a try.”

Did you have any kind of hunch it would do as well as it did?

Hudgens: No. I thought it was another Disney Channel movie; they’re all great, they all have good stories, but none of them have blown up like “High School Musical” did. I guess people have just been deprived of musicals. And anyone can relate to these characters — the brainy girl with the jock, the drama queen, all the clique problems. Everyone’s been there.

How close are you to Gabriella?

Hudgens: I’m a good person. I’m a good girl. I’m not gonna go out and be Paris Hilton or whatever. I think it’s really important in this day and age; so many people are out there who think they should be role models and really are not the best people to look up to. I have a responsibility from “High School Musical” ’cause my character was such a good girl. That set the standard.

It was a different experience than “Thirteen,” I bet.

Hudgens: In “Thirteen” I was a good girl, too — it’s not, like, a wide stretch. I was 13 when I did “Thirteen”; I had no idea what any of it was. I saw the movie and was like, “Oh my God, this is what this is about?!” I really had no idea.

What’s up with “High School Musical 2?”

Hudgens: We’re starting in February. I haven’t read the script yet. I think that I’m a lifeguard; school’s out, it’s summer vacation, and it takes place at Ryan Evans’ country club.

Are you finished with high school yourself?

Hudgens: I’m in my senior year; I only have two courses — Government & Economics and English. I’m trying to finish up whenever I can.

Vanessa Anne Hughes opens for the Cheetah Girls at 7 p.m. Friday (November 10th) at the Masonic Temple Theatre, 500 Temple Ave., Detroit. Tickets are sold out. Call (313) 471-6611 or call or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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