Vanessa Hudgens was on top of the world in 2007. She was about to start filming the third installment of the High School Musical franchise, and she was gearing up to release her second studio album, Identified. By all accounts, it should have been a great time in life, instead, it turned into a nightmare when nude photos of the former Disney star were stolen and published online. In the end, it taught her how to keep her private life just that, private.
Looking back on that moment from almost 13 years ago now, the world is a much different place. It's hard to remember more than a decade ago, but the contrast between the public's reaction to Hudgens' stolen photos and Jennifer Lawrence's is striking. The world actually blamed Vanessa Hudgens — not the thief — for the photos and their release. Rather than focus on the scumbag that released the photos, Hudgens was compelled to apologize for taking them.
"I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me. I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos," the actress said at the time. "I am thankful for the support of my family and friends."
Disney scolded her like a child, saying in a press release, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson." If an employer tried something like that today, the company would be rightful condemned. None of this was Hudgens' fault, yet there she was, apologizing and getting rebuked. Rather than consoling the star for a terrible invasion of her privacy, she was shamed.
Vanessa Hudgens recently reflected on the incident in an interview with Cosmo UK. "It was a really traumatizing thing for me," Hudgens says. "It's really [expletive] up that people feel like they are entitled enough to share something that personal with the world." Actors, according to Hudgens, become a commodity to the public.
"As an actor, you completely lose all grip of your own privacy and it's really sad," she explains, before going on, "It feels like that shouldn't be the case, but unfortunately if enough people are interested, they're going to do everything they can to get to know as much about you as they can, which is flattering." Until, finally, something like the stolen photos happens, says Hudgens, "people take it too far and end up divulging things that should be personal."
Something else Vanessa Hudgens took from the photo scandal? How to let criticism roll off her back. "If you're putting yourself out there, you will be subject to criticism. That's just how it is. You have to deal with it the best that you can in a way that is healthy for you." Good advice for all of us.