Gabriella Montez is the main female character of the High School Musical trilogy. An exemplary academic, she moved to East High where she became a member of the Scholastic Decathlon Team. She participated in theater as a singer and did mostly duets with her romantic partner, Troy Bolton. After graduating high school, she pursued law at Stanford University.
Gabriella is portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens.
Gabriella is a young lady of Latin-American descent. She has tan skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. Her wardrobe consists of mostly dresses and casual clothes in bright colors. Since the second installment Gabriella wears a necklace with a charm in the shape of the letter "T" as in Troy, gifted to her by none other than her boyfriend.
Gabriella has a strong sense of who she is. This is manifested in her choosing to join theater for the pure enjoyment of it regardless of what others may say. Her ultimate basis for making decisions seems to be that of what she deems best for herself as an individual, exemplified by how she broke up with Troy in HSM 2 because she no longer saw fit for her the changes in the work environment she was in. This independence and quiet force of character was also shown when she chose to attend Stanford early at the expense of missing the last theater production of her high school batch-- a decision she neither took lightly nor felt was easy.
Though she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, Gabriella’s shyness seems to dissipate when she loses herself in a song and lets herself live in the moment. She urges Troy to enjoy the present rather than worry about the future in the second film. She seems happiest when enjoying the current moment, whether it’s dancing with Troy on the school roof or taking funny pictures for the yearbook. She is quicker than her boyfriend to take the opportunity to audition for musicals.
Though thinking about the future tends to bring her down on account of reluctance to let go of what is presently good and working, she realizes that she can’t run away from the future forever. She develops a clearer insight of what she wants for herself throughout the series and has the ability to read accurately Troy and his motives.
She finds it hard to make decisions concerning college and such, because her dominant Fi makes it difficult for her to be decisive and give practical factors higher priority than personal factors. Taylor scolds her for wanting to give up the opportunity to go to Stanford early so that she can be with Troy, whom she sees as clouding Gabriella’s judgment. Nonetheless, she is shown to be an excellent student with good organizational skills and self-reliance.
Gabriella lives with and is primarily looked after by her mother. There is no mention of her father or any siblings, however. She meets Troy Bolton at a family bar during their winter break as they are both forced to sing karaoke in the New Year's Eve party at the Ski Mountain Resort. Upon singing with each other ("Start of Something New"), they instantly feel a connection, and, as fate would have it, they end up attending the same school (East High). There, they become close friends, and eventually begin dating. When the two meet up at the auditions for the winter concert, they try out for the callbacks and do a duet of a song called Breaking Free. Troy, being the basketball star of East High with no association whatsoever with theater or singing, and Gabriella, with a public image that marks her permanent social place among the braniacs, joined together cause a disruption of the status quo at the school. Consequently, more people begin revealing sides of them that conflict with the stereotypes they have been placed into. Numerous attempts from friends and rivals alike to break them apart arose and failed. They end up singing the duet in the end while encouraging others to break from the norm in favor of following their dreams and showing their true selves no matter what other people think. Following the performance, the two become a very funtional and healthy couple who are both successful in their individual pursuits, though not without their occasional conflicts.
Gabriella has maintained her romance with Troy, and the couple, along with their friends, get jobs at the Lava Springs Country Club. Gabriella takes the position of a responsible and adept lifeguard. However, Sharpay Evans gets angry because she bribed Fulton to get Troy Bolton a job--not the entire East High student body. Seeking revenge, Sharpay lures Troy away from Gabriella and his friends by showering him with various luxuries, including promising college opportunities. She even sings him a song ("Humuhumunukanuka'apua'a") complete with lights, a set and a whole onstage performance in an attempt to win over Troy and makes him promise to sing with her. Gabriella has made more friends in the time and becomes close with Ryan Evans. After Troy repeatedly breaks his promises and backs out of his commitments, Gabriella breaks up with him and quits her job at Lava Springs, claiming that working together sounded good, but is too hard now given their recent issues. During this scene Gabriella belts out "Gotta Go My Own Way," and drives away with her mother at the end, leaving Troy heartbroken and giving back the T necklace. However, the two of them reunite at the end after Troy apologizes to his friends, gets his job back, confronts Sharpay and learns a new song--a duet he and Gabriella sing at the talent show, entitled "Everyday." Afterwards, she and Troy kiss on the golf course.
A Stanford-bound Gabriella is uneasy about the fast pace her life has taken. Before graduation, Gabriella briefly considers taking classes at the local university for a year and going to Stanford when she is ready, much to the dismay of Taylor McKessie and Mrs. Montez. Troy urges Gabriella to accept an early orientation. Gabriella goes to Stanford but must drop out of the school musical (allowing Sharpay Evans to fill the lead role) and miss prom. Wanting his last dance at East High to be with Gabriella, Troy drives to Stanford and the two share an intimate prom of their own. He convinces Gabriella to return to East High for opening night of the musical and for graduation. Gabriella sings in the spring play, and her classmates put together a surprise reunion complete with gifts, hugs, and flowers for Gabriella onstage during the performance of "Just Wanna Be with You." Gabriella will attend Stanford and study law and she put her house up for sale before she graduated high school.
- The name Gabriella has many meanings depending on the different languages:
- In Italian, it means "Woman of God"
- In Spanish, it means "God is my strength"
- In Hebrew, it means "Devoted to God"
- Gabriella is the youngest of the High School Musical, High School Musical 2 and High School Musical 3: Senior Year groups.
- When Gabriella started East High, she called herself " The Schools Freaky Genius Girl"