Vanessa Hudgens, the talented 34-year-old actress, recently shared some heartfelt insights about her heritage and a special trip to the Philippines in an interview with Allure. She’s proud of where she comes from and isn’t shy about sharing it with the world.
Vanessa reflected on how people often associate her with her High School Musical character, Gabriella Montez, which led them to assume she was Latina. She noted that even today, many people are surprised when she reveals that she is, in fact, Filipino. She explained, “And when I tell them I’m Filipino, they’re like, ‘What?!’ You haven’t met my mother. I think that I’m quite ambiguous, so people don’t really know.”
However, Vanessa isn’t just content with keeping her heritage a well-kept secret. She’s proud of her Filipino roots, and she’s making sure people know it. She boldly stated, “I am doing everything that I can to let people know because I am proud.”
She also shared a humorous beauty anecdote from her trip to Asia. Vanessa admitted that her first experience getting makeup done in Asia was a bit of a culture shock. The emphasis on porcelain skin didn’t exactly align with her personal preferences. She quipped, “I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Ohhh!’… I want to be a bronze beauty. The tanner I am, the happier I am, and the healthier I look and feel, so that isn’t my bag, really. That was the biggest beauty culture shock I’ve ever had.”
Growing up in the United States, Vanessa’s upbringing was a blend of Filipino heritage and American culture. While she had rice with every meal, she didn’t feel drastically separated from her peers in school. Her experience was distinctly American, but she recognizes the empowering aspect of knowing where you come from and being able to represent your heritage:
“Yes, I had rice with every meal, but I didn’t necessarily feel like I was super separated from the other kids in school, just because my upbringing was so extremely American.
It felt so empowering to know where you’re from, and be able to represent your heritage.”
For Vanessa, one of the most touching aspects of embracing her Filipino heritage is the positive impact it has on others. She shared an emotional moment when young girls approach her, expressing how important it is for them to see someone who looks like them on television. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of representation, and Vanessa is humbled to be that identifying figure who helps others feel seen:
“The most incredible thing is when I have these girls come up to me, and they’re like, ‘you were the first person that I saw that looks like me on TV.’ I want to cry. It’s just really beautiful to be able to be an identifying person that helps allow others to feel seen.”
In a world where diversity and representation are increasingly important, Vanessa Hudgens stands proudly as a Filipino-American role model. She’s using her platform to share her heritage and inspire others. Her journey of self-identity and pride is a reminder that embracing our roots can be a powerful source of empowerment, both for ourselves and for those who look up to us.