Hudgens Photo: Career Wrecker or Enhancer?

The "High School Musical" star's nude photo could be a boon.

ByABC News
September 10, 2007, 10:37 PM

Sept. 11, 2007 — -- 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.

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.