Vanessa Hudgens was just 17 when she first starred as Gabriella Montez in Disney’s High School Musical movies, the franchise that turned her into a beloved household name and seemingly set her up for a successful Hollywood career. But as she shared in a new interview with The Guardian, it wasn’t necessarily the career she had envisioned for herself.

High School Musical was a fantastic journey, but it completely derailed me from where I originally saw my career going,” she admitted to the UK paper. “I always wanted to be the indie girl; I always wanted to be in the movies where I’m playing a drug addict or a stripper or a prostitute. That was my goal since I was, like, 11.”

Instead, after HSM, she turned down jobs that might tinge her squeaky-clean image and accepted roles like Lindy in Beastly, a modern-day Beauty and the Beast retelling. Then, in 2012, she took a risk and appeared as Blondie, a stripper in 2011’s dark fantasy thriller Sucker Punch. That was followed by a role in 2012’s Spring Breakers, which costarred James Franco and fellow Disney alum Selena Gomez.

Hudgens took on the latter role when she was 25. Two years later, she found herself in an unexpected place. “I woke up at 27 and I was like, ‘I have no idea who I am and what I’m doing,'” she told The Guardian. “Which is funny because at 25, I was like, ‘I’ve got life covered! We’re good! Smooth sailing!'”

The actress is now starring in Dog Days alongside Eva Longoria, Nina Dobrev, Lauren Lapkus, Thomas Lennon, Adam Pally, Ryan Hansen, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, and Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard. The rom-com tells the stories of dogs and their owners who live in LA.

Dog Days is in theaters now.

What kind of role would you like to see Vanessa Hudgens play next? Tell us @BritandCo!

(photo via Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)