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Vanessa Hudgens credits her parents, mom Gina Guangco and dad Greg Hudgens, for her success
Vanessa Hudgens has always had a close relationship with her family.
Born on Dec. 14, 1988, to parents, Greg Hudgens and Gina Guangco, the High School Musical star developed an interest in acting from a young age. Although she grew up in California, that’s where her connection to Hollywood ended.
Instead, she was raised in a hard-working, financially conservative home. Her dad worked as a firefighter while her mom held various office jobs before staying home to take care of her and her younger sister, Stella.
“Money was a big thing,” she said in an interview with Marie Claire in September 2013. But her parents saw that she had “a knack for entertainment” and enrolled her in dance, singing and theatre classes. Still, they weren’t pushing for her to become a child star.
"My mom and dad didn't really want me to be in the business because there's a lot of competitiveness and rejection,” she told GMA News in October 2008.
Despite their reservations, they stood behind her. “My parents gave up so much,” Vanessa told Marie Claire, explaining that her mom homeschooled her and the family eventually moved to Los Angeles. “They were very supportive of me. They gave up a lot so that I could get to where I am.”
“She was such a rock for me,” she said during a SiriusXM interview with Andy Cohen in December 2018. “She is literally a ray of sunshine. I’ve never met anyone who is brighter and more cheery than my mother.”
Here’s everything to know about Vanessa Hudgens' parents, Greg and Gina Hudgens.
They met as pen pals
Vanessa’s parents have a fairy tale love story. In a February 2011 interview with Collider, the Tick, Tick... Boom! actress explained that the two first met via pen and paper.
“They were pen pals. My mom was in the Philippines and my father was in the States and they wrote to each other,” she said. “He went out to meet her and they wed, not too long after.”
Gina immigrated to the United States and a few months later, she and Greg married. Speaking to Shape in October 2021, Vanessa shared that she always thought she’d have a similar story. “My mom got married at 25, so I always thought I was going to be married at 25,” she said.
They had two daughters
Vanessa was Greg and Gina’s first child together but when she was 7 years old, the pair welcomed another baby girl: Stella Hudgens.
Gina was once fired because of Vanessa
Before staying home with her daughters, Gina was a working mother. She held a variety of different office positions. In fact, Vanessa told Marie Claire U.K. in May 2017 that she was responsible for the fact that Gina “kind of bounced around jobs” before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
The actress elaborated during a July 2009 interview with Parade, explaining that she “got her fired once” as a child.
“I was calling her at work way too much, because I missed her,” she said. “Back then, I was so shy, I did not want to leave her side. I would call her at work nonstop, to the point where she got fired. It was horrible.”
She continued, saying that acting helped her come out of her shell more. Still, she said the phone calls have never stopped. “I am so close to my family. I talk to my mom almost every day.”
They raised her conservatively
Vanessa has been open about her spirituality, including her belief in witchcraft and astrology, but the actress actually grew up in a more traditional household. “I was raised very Catholic,” she told The Cut, adding that her mom was always religious.
Aside from religion, her parents taught her to be practical with her finances. “I grew up very, very conservatively,” she told InStyle in November 2018. “Travel wasn’t really a thing. I didn’t even get on my first flight until I was 14.”
“Money was something that wasn’t necessarily talked about much in a positive way,” she continued. “It was always like, ‘How are we gonna pay the bills?’ ”
They were supportive of her acting career
From an early age, Vanessa was interested in singing, dancing and performing on stage. Seeing that, her parents signed up her for various theatre classes. Still, they didn’t necessarily want her to act for a living.
“I was leery from the beginning,” her father, Greg, said during an interview with The Washington Post in January 2015. “As she got more immersed, we made a pact. As long as she still applied herself to school and kept her head out of the clouds, we would continue to help her.”
Gina started homeschooling Vanessa so that she could take her to auditions, despite the fact that money was sometimes tight.
“My parents drove me up to L.A., which cost a lot because of gas, and took out loans so that we could move from location to location to be close to L.A.,” she told Marie Claire. However, her father, who worked as a firefighter, kept his job in San Diego. With every relocation, then, Greg would go back-and-forth between work and family.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am,” she told GMA News. “They’ve always let me do what I wanted to with acting, singing and dancing. They have been there with me every step of the way."
Vanessa dedicated her Grease performance to her father
In January of 2016, Greg died from stage 4 cancer.
“It was shocking,” she told PEOPLE in May 2016 of her father’s death. “I knew that it was coming, but nothing can prepare you for losing a parent.”
His death took place just one night before Vanessa was set to star in Fox’s Grease: Live and continued on with the show in dedication to him. “Tonight, I do the show in his honor,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter) after revealing the news. The star drew praise for her performance as fans wondered how she was able to push through.
“There was never a moment where I thought that I wouldn’t do [the show] because my dad would want me to do it,” she told Glamour U.K. in December 2021 of the experience. “He gave so much time and energy into me achieving my dreams and for me to have a career where I can do what I love. So, I felt like I needed to do it, because that’s what he would’ve wanted.”
Although she acknowledged the difficulty, she shared that the performance helped her grieve. “Knowing that I was kind of doing it in honor of him is what made it really special and made me feel even more connected to him,” she said.
Her mom helped her cope with the death of her dad
Speaking to PEOPLE, Vanessa explained how her mom helped her cope with the grief of losing her father.
“She’s so strong through the hardest of times,” she said. “But she has this lightheartedness and this light that just beams out of her very being and it’s so special.”
“There are highs and there are lows,” she shared. “It sucks, but death happens. It never makes it easier but it happens to all of us. It’s just something we have to get through until we all meet again in heaven.”
Continuing, she explained that her mom’s way of viewing life helped her heal. “My mom looks out through such beautiful eyes. I’ve learned to follow her lead.”
Vanessa and Gina are working on a travel documentary
In March of 2023, Vanessa announced a new, family-focused project. The star went to the Philippines for the first time with her mom and sister to film a documentary highlighting her close relationship with her mother.
“Growing up there weren’t really that many women who looked like me and my mom and my family on screen,” she told Glamour U.K.
“As an immigrant, coming into the States and not knowing anyone, I can’t even imagine how difficult and challenging that is and what challenges she faced as a woman,” she said, explaining more about why she wanted to tell her story. “I feel like that’s such a relatable story to so many women all over the world. The more that we can share, the more we can lift each other up.”
In an interview with Cohen, the actress praised her mother for always being so supportive of her. “My mom is definitely my biggest fan, but I’m also the biggest fan of hers.”
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Read the original article on People.