Hudgens Photo: Career Wrecker or Enhancer?

In her latest role, actress Vanessa Hudgens has attracted a whole new audience to "High School Musical 2."

The actress admitted last week to posing nude in a photograph, apologized and is now hoping she didn't just ruin her chances to continue with the multimillion-dollar "High School Musical" franchise. It's not the slip-up that has Hollywood talking, it's the way the 18-year-old handled it that's earning her praises and may have just catapulted her career to the next level.

It was something that was never meant to become public. A series of photos of a young Hudgens sans clothing in a bathroom spread across the Internet last week.

"This was a photo, which was taken privately," said a statement from Hudgens' publicist. "It is a personal matter and it is unfortunate that this has become public."

But, according to a new report from an anonymous source in People magazine, the photo was meant for someone.

That someone is Drake Bell, a 19-year-old actor who is currently starring in "Drake and Josh" on Nickelodeon. Hudgens reportedly sent the photos to Bell two years ago as an admiring fan before she was famous. Bell's representative, Jill Fritzo, said her client was unaware of the photos.

"Drake says he never received those photos," Fritzo told People.

Like current boyfriend and "High School Musical 2" co-star Zac Efron, Hudgens has worked professionally with Bell. She played his girlfriend on an episode of "Drake and Josh" in 2006, but unlike the relationship with Efron, sparks didn't fly in real life.

Will Nude Pics Help or Hurt Hudgens?

Despite the initial onslaught of negative publicity, will Hudgens' career actually benefit from this controversy?

The general consensus in Hollywood seems to think, if anything, the photos will give Hudgens' career a boost.

Celebrity representative Michael Levine said it's unlikely these photos will do any lasting damage. Levine, who's represented hundreds of celebs, said in this day and age, nude photos aren't all that scandalous.

"If the photos weren't too explicit and there's no crime involved I don't think it will hurt her career," said Levine.

Bill Bohl, a Hollywood agent and owner of DDO Artists Agency in Los Angeles, agrees. "I don't believe this will hurt Vanessa's career at all," said Bohl. "She made a wrong choice and has been honest about it and now she can move forward with some insight on how important her choices are."

The Disney Channel seems to agree, giving the starlet a second chance. Disney would not comment early on, giving Hudgens room to apologize to her fans — she did in a statement Friday.

"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," read the statement released by Hudgens' representative. Disney then responded.

"Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment. We hope she's learned a valuable lesson," read the statement.

But in the world of young celebrities, the "High School Musical 2" star's slip-up isn't all that damning.

Young Stars Find Wholesome Expectations Difficult to Uphold

Hudgens isn't the first teen star to fall from grace. For an increasing number of young, troubled celebrities, an acting career is often followed by a rap sheet.

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