Vanessa Hudgens Reflects on Her 'Traumatizing' 2007 Nude Photo Leak: 'It's Really F—ed Up'

At the time, the Disney star issued an apology amid the breach of privacy

Vanessa Hudgens is reflecting on an early career scandal with an empowered lens.

Opening up to Cosmopolitan U.K. for a February cover story, the actress, 31, addressed the 2007 invasion of privacy she experienced as an 18-year-old, which resulted in revealing photos of herself posted to the internet.

At the time, the young Disney Channel star apologized for the leak instead of defending herself as the victim in the situation.

“It was a really traumatizing thing for me,” Hudgens told the magazine. “It’s really f—ed up that people feel like they are entitled enough to share something that personal with the world.”

The Bad Boys for Life star said living in the spotlight, she believes, can cause people to think celebrities are endless fodder for preying perpetrators.

“As an actor, you completely lose all grip of your own privacy and it’s really sad,” she said. “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.”

She continued: “Which is flattering, I guess, but then people take it too far and end up divulging things that should be personal.”

Vanessa Hudgens
Theo Wargo/Getty

Hudgens — thrust into stardom for her High School Musical work alongside her boyfriend at the time, Zac Efron — was among the first female celebrities plagued by hacks and nude photo leaks.

In the years since, other A-listers have dealt with the modern digital dilemma, including Jennifer Lawrence, whose hacker received prison time.

Responding to the controversy at the time, Hudgens issued an apologetic statement through her rep: “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. I am thankful for the support of my family and friends.”

A Disney Channel spokesperson, at the time, released the following statement: “Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson.”

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Vanessa Hudgens

Looking back, Hudgens told Cosmo U.K. that she has since learned to stand up for herself in all sorts of uncomfortable scenarios.

“I’m the type of person in any situation, whether it’s an audition or in work, if I feel uncomfortable, I’m going to walk away or let that person know they’re making me feel uncomfortable,” she said. “Then, if they don’t respect that, they can go f— off.”

She added: “As long as you hold your ground, no one will bring you down.”

Hudgens describes herself as a “big advocate of being true to yourself,” regardless of whether others like it or not.

“Not everyone is going to like that — well, good, that makes you an individual; that makes you unique,” she said. “And if we’re all the same, what’s the point? It’s important to look out for each other, especially in this industry, and realize it’s tough.”

“It’s hard enough, nobody needs to make it harder,” she added.

Related Articles