From former Disney star to grown-up actress. In a new interview for the spring issue of Paper magazine, Vanessa Hudgens, 24, opens up about how she plans to make the tough transition in her career -- after surviving a nude photo scandal in 2007.
"That was just a really s--tty situation that sucked," the High School Musical star tells the magazine of the naked photos she took of herself at age 18, which were leaked online. "That was by far the worst moment of my career."
On the bright side, the scandal did help shed her good-girl image and helped to launch her more mature career.
"It's always been hard for actors to cross that bridge but honestly, you have to hold out and do what you think is right for yourself," Hudgens says. "But I also think it is about finding someone who truly believes in you."
For example, the Bandslam star says she was lucky to be cast in the upcoming R-rated film Spring Breakers with other young actresses. "[Director] Harmony [Korine] took a really big jump in hiring me and Selena [Gomez] and Ashley [Benson]."
And Hudgens will push herself even further in other projects as well. She portrays a pregnant, homeless teenager in Gimme Shelter, which based on a true story. To get into character, Hudgens cut off her hair, gained 15 pounds, wore fake piercings and spent two weeks living in homeless shelters.
The actress calls the project her "Monster," comparing it to Charlize Theron's shocking transformation in the 2003 film. Theron's role portraying real-life prostitute-turned-serial killer Aileen Wuornos, won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Hudgens will also star as a drug-addicted prostitute in the upcoming thriller Frozen Ground, a challenge she says she relishes. "Ever since I was young, I wanted to play really heavy and intense roles and really push myself in a dramatic direction," she explains. "So I was like, 'A prostitute! I can play a prostitute! This is going to be exciting."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Vanessa Hudgens: Nude Picture Scandal Was the "Worst Moment of My Career"