Vanessa Hudgens has opened up about her experiences in Hollywood as a Filipino American actor.
In a press conference held in Manila on Friday, Hudgens admitted that making it big in Hollywood as a Filipino actor is still a “struggle” despite the industry diversifying, noting that “there are still very niche things that people are now leaning into.
Hudgens recalled auditioning for a movie and then losing out on the role because she was not of Black or Latino descent.
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.
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 people are exposed to different cultures. 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 whether she believes that a Filipino actor would win an Oscar in the future, Hudgens declared, “Well, it’s gonna be me!”
Filipino Americans who have previously won Oscars include songwriter Robert Lopez for the Best Original song “Let It Go” in Disney’s 2013 film “Frozen” and singer-songwriter H.E.R. for the Best Original Song “Fight For You” for the 2021 film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Hudgens, who is widely known for portraying Gabriella Montez in the “High School Musical” film series, arrived in the Philippines for the first time on March 25.
The actor is shooting a travel documentary in her Filipino mother’s home country, starting with travels in Manila and the Palawan province. The film, which is directed and produced by Paul Soriano, will showcase Hudgens’ exploration of her Filipino heritage.
“It is really an intimate look at my experience being in the Philippines for the very first time,” Hudgens said.
“It’s inspiring to note that with everything she has achieved in life, she wants to discover her Filipino roots and pay homage to her mother’s country. Hopefully, this opens doors for many more collaborations to come,” Soriano previously said in a statement.
The honorary title, which recognizes contributions in promoting the Philippines as one of the world’s top tourism destinations, was given by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and was presented in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Creative Communications, which is led by Soriano who also serves as the secretary.
The actor hopes to learn more about her Filipino heritage while being open to making other projects in the Philippines.
I’m in my 30s now and I’m thinking about raising a family. I want to be able to know my heritage so that my kids can know their background. I already can’t wait to come back. I feel like the time I have spent here has been so incredible and so special, but I need more time. The country has a lot to offer.
The actor is currently back in the U.S.
Hudgens, who co-hosted this year’s Oscars pre-show, executive produced and starred in Netflix’s 2019 film “The Knight Before Christmas.” She has also starred in all three installments of “The Princess Switch” franchise and the Oscar-nominated musical movie “Tick, Tick…Boom!” She will star in the upcoming indie comedy “French Girl” alongside Zach Braff.