Vanessa Hudgens recalls losing Hollywood project because she wasn’t Black, Latina

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — In the Wikipedia page of “High School Musical” fandom, Filipino-American Hollywood star Vanessa Hudgens’ character, Gabriella Montez, has been described as “of Hispanic descent.”

At a Manila media briefing for her travel documentary yesterday, Hudgens broke her silence about representation in Hollywood.

Answering a query by Philstar.com, Vanessa admitted that it is still a “struggle” as a Filipina to make it big in Hollywood despite the many calls for its diversification.

“I feel like honestly, it still feels like a struggle because as you know, as Hollywood is definitely diversifying, there are still very niche things that people are now leaning into,” she said.

She shared a particular incident when she lost a project because she was not Black or Latina.

“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.’ But you know, it’s hard. It really is. And I think I’m still out there, trying to find where I fit in Hollywood.”

When the presscon’s host, Boy Abunda, asked Vanessa if Malaysian Michelle Yeoh’s recent Oscars win, a ceremony whose red carpet Vanessa hosted, would improve Asians’ chance of getting better Hollywood jobs, Vanessa said: “Yes, it truly is the award that we can celebrate, films and people from all around the world. The more the melting pot comes, the more are people exposed to different cultures.”

She is hopeful that as Hollywood would soon open more doors for people of Asian descent like her.

“But I think that it is becoming more open, becoming more colorful, so that’s all we can do is to continue to tell stories that we love and be intuitive so it does diversify.” 

When asked for her advice on how other people like her can also make it in Hollywood, she said: “I don’t know, I feel like the most important thing in the entertainment industry that I personally value the most is telling good stories. It doesn’t necessarily about talent on what scale. To me, the reason why I think I am where I am because it’s always been the path, it’s always been about telling the stories that I’m passionate about.”

She stressed that Hollywood is not the place for people who only want to become famous.

“If you’re trying to get famous and that’s your goal, don’t do it. Don’t go to the entertainment industry. Go figure out something but not on film. It’s a really sacred thing. I think that it’s really important to remember. It’s not about fame. It’s about telling stories that you’re passionate about. Telling stories that move people. And that move you.”

Although she started in the musical stage, she considers herself now more of an actor than a singer. 

“Definitely, yeah. I mean, I love singing, but it’s not necessarily my main passion. It’s something that I’m very blessed to be able to do well, but I feel like I’m more comfortable telling stories through acting rather than through songs.”

RELATED: Vanessa Hudgens says Lea Salonga inspires her to conquer Hollywood

Her process as an actor, she narrated: “It’s mostly figuring out my character, her journey. What is the story she’s trying to convey and how her character fits best to the story and making sure that it is being true to the best of whoever that character was.”

She is looking forward to working with Filipino actors, and in fact, wanted to make a film in the country, “Right here! Right now!” 

RELATED: How Vanessa Hudgens will sell the Philippines as global tourism ambassador

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