May 1, 2016
Vanessa Hudgens On Her Father's Death: 'It Sucks, But Death Happens'

Vanessa Hudgens may have played Grease Live! tough girl Rizzo, but she's not quite untouched by emotion away from that character, as the recent passing of her father has proven. Hudgens recently opened up about her feelings regarding the loss of her father, who succumbed to cancer. In addition to facing the death of a parent, Vanessa has been keeping busy participating in a new Aerie campaign, in which she exposes herself as the real deal with untouched bikini photos.

Grease Live! Star Vanessa Hudgens Faces The Passing Of Her Father

Vanessa was starring in Grease Live! as Rizzo this past January, when she received word that her father, Greg, had been taken from her, losing his battle against stage 4 cancer. In thanking her fans for their words of support throughout her father's struggle with cancer, Ms. Hudgens dedicated her performance to her recently deceased father and revealed that Greg wasn't the first person Hudgens lost to cancer.

"Last year, my boyfriend Austin lost his mom Lori to cancer, and my dad has just been recently diagnosed with stage four cancer," Hudgens said. "Let me tell you, I hate cancer. I hate cancer with every cell of my being."

Now, as Vanessa opens up about dealing with the loss of her father, the High School Musical star credits her mother, who has been a lifelong friend, as well as a parent, for teaching her to deal with grief, but also how not to let it consume her. Hudgens says her mother is special for the positive outlook with which she faces life, especially through the darkest of times.

"Life is about perspective. The way you choose to see your life is the way your life is going to become," says Ms. Hudgens.

While keeping a positive outlook has helped Vanessa and her mom weather the hardest of times, the actress admits that there have been times when keeping such a bright outlook has been difficult. The death of her father was one of those times, and Hudgens says she found that coping with the loss was more difficult than she expected, even though her father's long illness should have prepared her for the eventual loss.

"There are highs and there are lows. It sucks, but death happens," says Vanessa. "It never makes it easier but it happens to all of us. It's just something we have to get through until we all meet again in heaven."

Vanessa Hudgens Joins Hilary Duff In A New Aerie Ad Campaign

Aerie brings a fresh outlook of their own with their #AerieReal campaign, a project that seeks to help women celebrate themselves in natural and unique ways. The #AerieReal campaign is famous for using photos of their models that haven't been retouched or manipulated by software such as Photoshop, encouraging women to find the natural beauty within themselves. Emma Roberts is one actress to have participated in the campaign, and now it seems it's Vanessa Hudgens' turn to lend her look to the cause.

Aerie isn't just recruiting stars like Hudgens. Anyone can participate in the campaign by uploading an untouched image of themselves wearing a bikini to Instagram. For every image dogeared with the #AerieReal hashtag, Aerie will donate $1.00 (up to $30,000) to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Ms. Hudgens has uploaded her photo to her own Instagram account and the image of bikini-clad Vanessa has already earned over 300,000 likes. In a separate video for Aerie, Vanessa is joined by her sister, Stella, and the two Hudgens sisters encourage others to participate in the campaign, urging others to "love the swim you're in" by posting their best bikini pictures.

[Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Wynn Las Vegas]