“I grew up doing theater and, like, this has always been a passion of mine. And you were on American Idol and you won, and I was like, ‘That’s it! I’m going on American Idol,'” she told the wide-eyed host.
“And then that next week I got an audition for High School Musical and booked it. So then I was like, ‘Never mind,'” the actress quipped before adding, “But I was like, ‘I’m doing it.’ And you were the catalyst.”
After calling Hudgens one of her few “must-watch” actresses, Clarkson then asked her guest how much she remembered about her earliest days playing Gabriella Montez, considering the first movie in the original High School Musical trilogy premiered over 16 years ago.
“I remember all the auditions, definitely,” Hudgens replied. “‘Cause there were a lot of them…I mean, there were like three, but, like, I remember them distinctly.”
“You know, the same thing with Idol!” Clarkson then jumped in. “People don’t know that but there were many auditions before you even got to the TV part.”
Hudgens went on to look back on her connections with the rest of the Wildcat crew, saying, “I remember meeting Zac [Efron] for the first time; I remember meeting Lucas [Grabeel] for the first time. Me and Ashley [Tisdale] had already met ’cause we did a commercial together like a month prior. But it’s wild, the time just keeps flying…I’m like, ‘I’ve got decades under my belt now.'”
Since her days as a Wildcat, the Disney Channel alum has made a name for herself as the star of Netflix’s The Princess Switch film series as well as appearances is many a movie and TV musical, including 2016’s Grease: Live, 2019’s Rent: Live and 2021’s Tick, Tick…Boom!. Most recently, she served as a co-host for The Oscars Red Carpet Show ahead of the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
Watch Hudgens’ interview with Clarkson below.