Vanessa Hudgens is taking some time to look back at her first big romance.
The 30-year-old actress stopped by the Awards Chatter podcast where she discussed her relationship with Zac Efron, which began just as both of their careers were taking off. The Bad Boys for Life star admits that she's "grateful" for what they had because it helped ground her during a tumultuous period in her life.
"It started off really organically," she said. "I could not have been more grateful to have that relationship at the time."
The pair reportedly began dating a year after the first High School Musical film was released. It was a massive hit, prompting Disney to create two more. Overnight, the pair became teen idols.
"It was this massive phenomenon and [all] eyes were on me," she shared. "And it's just a really weird foreign thing to go through, and by being in a relationship, it kind of kept me stabilized and grounded, and I had someone to lean on who was going through it as well."
However, Hudgens readily admits that their four-year relationship had its challenges, which sometimes became public ordeals.
"I remember one time we did have a fight and it was while we were at rehearsals, and I remember [director] Kenny Ortega coming around the corner with the most concerned look on his face like, 'Oh no, is our movie going to fall apart?'" she explained.
But Hudgens emphasized that she was capable of setting her personal life aside in order to perform when she needed to in those difficult moments.
"I pride myself on being a professional, so I was like 'That aside, we are going to move forward and do what we need to do'... And we sorted it all out. I think because I was so young, I think that relationship stabilized me."
The couple parted ways in 2010. Since the following year, Hudgens has been with fellow actor Austin Butler. Meanwhile, Efron has been linked to actresses like Lily Collins, Michelle Rodriguez and model Sami Miro.