Vanessa Hudgens is a woman who knows what she wants. Gracing the pages of Marie Claire's October issue in a midriff-baring crop top and matching hot pants, the 24-year-old Spring Breakers star opens up about her vision for the future: "A vintage Mustang, kids, and an Oscar."
Those are big dreams for someone who started out with so little. And indeed, Hudgens has come a long way since she got her big break as the female lead in the 2008 TV movie High School Musical, opposite her now-ex-boyfriend Zac Efron. Described by Marie Claire as a "good girl gone badass," the former Disney starlet is all grown-up and ready to take on the world, one edgy role at a time. (Her latest film, The Frozen Ground, is a thriller about serial killer Robert Hansen; she also stars in the upcoming action flick Machete Kills.)
Speaking about her rise to fame with Marie Claire, the dark-haired beauty recalls the sacrifices her family made to allow her to pursue her dreams of acting. "Money was a big thing," she explains to the mag. "My parents drove me up to L.A., which cost a lot because of gas, and took out loans so that we could move from location to location to be close to L.A. The family definitely struggled. They were very supportive of me. They gave up a lot so that I could get to where I am."
Because of that, she has never taken anything for granted. "A sense of knowing I'm part of something bigger than myself has allowed me to enjoy life more. And not worry about the little things. Like paparazzi," she says.
Which is not to say she's immune to the pitfalls of fame. "I am human like everyone else," she notes. "I am aware that there are people who look up to me. When mistakes are made, they aren't intentional, and I constantly push myself to be a better person."
That said, she feels pretty good about who and where she is now. "I am so comfortable with myself -- honing in on what I love and what makes me powerful," she tells the mag. "Things I've been doing lately, I'm super proud of. So I don't really care if someone doesn't like it, because I love it."
"You have a choice whether you want to be happy or not," she adds. "I choose to be happy. And it's been working out pretty well."