Ludacris and 'Super-Stoked' New Co-Host Vanessa Hudgens Talk Looking Forward to the Billboard Music Awards

Vanessa Hudgens and Ludacris roll out the magenta carpet for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 19, 2017 in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/BBMA2017/Getty Images for dcp

Vanessa Hudgens and Ludacris roll out the magenta carpet for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 19, 2017 in Las Vegas.

The 2017 Billboard Music Awards will represent a first for many involved this Sunday (May 21) -- perhaps no one more so than Vanessa Hudgens. The High School Musical star, who recently appeared as the lead on NBC’s Powerless, is set to co-host the event with Ludacris, already a three-time host of the awards. For Hudgens, though, it comes with a new set of responsibilities.

"I mean, I never planned on hosting anything before -- but the opportunity presented itself, and I thought, why not?” says the 28-year-old, who previously attended the ceremony with her High School Musical cast. “I think it's going to be a blast, I'm super stoked [about] the performers.”

Though Ludacris and Hudgens had yet to meet up until only a few days before the BBMAs, they’re set to host what’s shaping up to be a must-see evening. Featuring performances from Cher, Celine Dion, Drake, Miley Cyrus and more, the event, airing on May 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC, is a night of spectacle, honoring the music industry’s key players and offering a dose of entertainment along the way.

For Ludacris, it’s old hat. For the last two of his three years as co-host, the Atlanta rapper has served as joint master of ceremonies with prior co-hosts Chrissy Teigan and Ciara, and it was a no-brainer to have another Luda team-up this year. “If it's not broke, don't fix it,” says the rapper, 39. “I've had different people co-host like Chrissy Teigan and Ciara and now Vanessa Hudgens... I think that what's most important is having an understanding, so that our chemistry is right and [we] get the best out of each other, so we can translate on television to having great energy. Hopefully we'll be able to do that. She seems like a great person.”

Luda, whose real name is Chris Bridges, has picked up a few things along the way. “I learned that you have to just let your personality shine through, because they wouldn't consider hiring me for the job if they didn't want what I uniquely bring to it,” he explains. “I think that's what translates, in terms of people and the ratings going up and people loving it. I have to make sure I can bring what only I can bring to the job.”

While Luda is looking forward to seeing Bruno Mars hit the stage, Hudgens says that Celine Dion is at the top of her list based on her experiences as a kid. “She's the reason I started singing,” she says. “My parents had [The Colour of My Love] and I would take it and put it in my karaoke machine and sing along. I feel I have the range that I have because of her. So if I get to meet her, I might lose it.”

Also, she says, “Cher. I mean, legend. That's an amazing woman with such incredible music and fashion and point of view. I adore her. Lorde, I love. I got to meet her at Coachella and she's shaping into such an incredible individual performer. I'm excited to see her. Drake, of course, is always fun. Miley, me and Miley go way back so it'll be nice to see her performing her new song [‘Malibu’]."

Aside from their night serving as co-hosts, Ludacris is currently riding on the success of his hit “Vitamin D,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, with plans to release another single in the summer but no album in the near future. As for Hudgens, she plays somewhat coy: “I don't like talking about anything before it's finalized but it's a work in progress. We're putting all the pieces of the puzzle together."
The 2017 Billboard Music Awards will take place at the Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena this Sunday. "T-Mobile Magenta Carpet Live at the BBMAs,” the official red carpet pre-show for the “2017 Billboard Music Awards,” will live stream exclusively on Twitter on Sunday, May 21, starting at 6 p.m. ET. The pre-show will be available to logged-in and logged-out audiences on Twitter and connected devices, and can be found at or via @BBMAs.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.