Vanessa Hudgens is finally addressing the Gabriella Montez elephant in the room.
The 34-year-old Filipino actress referred to her High School Musical character in an interview with Allure, admitting that many people have confused her for Latina after playing one across the iconic trilogy.
“Obviously, I became famous for High School Musical,” Hudgens told Allure. “And my character is Gabriella Montez, so everyone automatically assumed that I was Latina, and most people still do. And when I tell them I’m Filipino, they’re like, ‘What?!’”
Hudgens herself was seemingly blasé about being confused for a Latina, remarking: “I think that I’m quite ambiguous so people don’t really know. But I am doing everything that I can to let people know because I am proud.”
It’s also important to note that Hudgens has previously spoken about losing a Hollywood project because she wasn’t Latina according to PhilStar. She said, “I remember, I was auditioning for a movie that I was very passionate about, a character that I always wanted to play, and I was told I couldn’t because I wasn’t Black or Latina. I’m like, ‘I’m ethnic! If that’s what you’re looking for.”
The internet had a lot to say about her interview, and about the disappointment of learning Hudgens did not represent Latine communities.
Someone compared her to Olivia Rodrigo, another Filipino who people confuse as being Latina, who one time said about Hudgens, “She’s Filipino like me, and I remember thinking that was cool.” by flipping it around and joking, “She’s Latina like me, and I remember thinking that was cool.”
Others called out Hudgens’ supposed surprise at people being shocked that she’s not Latina, pointing out that she has played Latina characters more than once. They said, “Vanessa hudgens acting shocked that ppl think she’s latina is CRAZY to me considering she’s played a latina character multiple times like… you know exactly what you’re doing sis”
At the end of the day, it does a disservice to both the Latine and Filipino communities if Hollywood continues to perpetuate a system or idea that we are interchangeable. And it hurts us even more when celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens don’t own up to being part of that system and taking opportunities with the excuse of “I’m ethnic! If that’s what you’re looking for.”