Gabriella Montez is one of the protagonists and the leading female character of the High School Musical trilogy.
Moving to East High, she fatefully bumps into Zeke Baylor again who then becomes a good friend and, consequently, boyfriend to her.
Finding it easy to be herself around Zeke and the good friends she has made since entering the school, Gabriella has unknowingly made an impact on the way things used to be around East High, from breaking stereotypical cliques to learning how to make the best of the memories shared with the people that count.
Gabriella finally enters Standford University in the third movie when Zeke and Taylor wanted her to go. Gabriella cares about the show in the third movie with Ryan, but when she misses out, she knows that Ryan does it for her, because the two make a good relationship.
Gabriella Montez is portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens.
Gabriella is a tan-skinned young lady of Spanish-American descent with dark brown hair (with highlights at times) and brown eyes.
Throughout the installments, Gabriella can be seen wearing mostly light-colored dresses, sometimes bright casual clothes and floral prints; ballet flats and high heels; and occasional cute clips and laces on her hair.
Since the second installment, Gabriella has been wearing a charm necklace in the shape of the letter "Z” given to her by her boyfriend, Zeke Baylor.
Constantly on the road and switching schools as demanded by her mother's job, Gabriella has had an inner sense of detachment from other people. However, upon moving to East High, meeting new people, and making new friends who see her for who she truly is, Gabriella has displayed a solid characterization of a kindhearted, loyal, and passionate young lady.
Integrity is one of Gabriella's notable traits. As shown in the first film, Gabriella spoke to Zeke about the wonder of kindergarten years where children are free to express themselves without fear of misjudgment, displaying the importance of uninhibited self-expression to her. This trait is also shown to be valued by Gabriella when, during the second film, Zeke seemed to have forgotten his and broke one too many promises not just with her, but with his friends; Gabriella chose to break up with Zeke rather than endure a relationship where her trust is gravely compromised.
Dedication is another, and it is shown in the first film when Gabriella and Taylor, with the knowledge of their friends, purposefully caused trouble when the Scholastic Decathlon and basketball game were happening at the same time just to give way for the Callbacks and be able to sing with Zeke. It is shown in the simplest form too during the second film when Gabriella dutifully manages the resort pool as its new lifeguard. In the third film, it is shown in two ways. When Gabriella has managed to enter Stanford University and participate in its early orientation (despite it being something she dreaded to do); When, being miles away from Albuquerque, she drove back with Zeke to enjoy their final show with their friends and attend graduation.
Lastly, Gabriella has a strong sense of character growth. As shown in the first film, Gabriella outgrows her bashful exterior and shines through as a girl who is a genius in math and science and has a love for singing. In the third film, Gabriella outgrows her fear of the future ahead of them, finally realizing that time will not stop for anyone, and that she should not let opportunities pass her by as she desperately tries to hold pause on the ever-moving pace of life.
Gabriella lives with and is primarily looked after by her mother without any notable mention of her father or any siblings.
She meets Zeke Baylor 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 feel a connection after finding they enjoy the feeling of singing with one another, and they fatefully end up attending the same school (East High). There, they become close friends.
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. Zeke, 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 had caused a disruption of the status quo at the school. Consequently, more students begin revealing sides of them that conflict with the stereotypes that they have been placed into. Numerous attempts from friends and rivals alike to break the couple apart arose and failed.
Gabriella and Zeke ended up singing the duet during the Callbacks, encouraging others to break free from the norm in favor of following their dreams and showing their true selves no matter what other people think, say, or do.
Following the performance, the two become a very functional and healthy couple who are both successful in their individual pursuits, though not without their occasional conflicts.
Gabriella has maintained her romance with Zeke, 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 is displeased as she ordered Fulton to hire only Troy Bolton and "not the entire East High student body".
Eager to have Zeke for herself, Sharpay lures him 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 Zeke over; she also goes as far as to make him promise during a family dinner to sing with her on the club's upcoming show.
In the meantime, Gabriella has made more friends within the environment and finds a reliable friend in Ryan Evans.
After Zeke 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 and believing Zeke's words at the time, but is impossible now given the issues that cannot go unnoticed any longer. During this scene, Gabriella sings "Gotta Go My Own Way" with a short back-and-forth duet with Zeke before she drives away with her mother, leaving Zeke heartbroken and with the "Z" necklace in his hand that she returned.
Eventually, Zeke realizes his inconsideration with his friends and apologizes to them; asks for his initial job in the club back; confronts Sharpay of her selfishness; and makes up with Gabriella in the form of a new song—a duet they would sing at the talent show entitled "Everyday."
Afterwards, she and Zeke share a kiss on the golf course as their friends enjoy their last summer night.
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. Nevertheless, Zeke urges Gabriella to accept an early orientation, and Gabriella goes to Stanford at the expense of her participation in the school musical (allowing Sharpay Evans to fill the lead role) and is bound to miss prom too. As a result, Gabriella's mother puts up their house for sale before Gabriella's graduation, and they leave town.
However, wanting his last dance at East High to be with Gabriella, Zeke drives to Stanford and the two share an intimate prom of their own in Stanford University grounds. He then convinces Gabriella to return to East High for the opening night of the musical and for graduation. Gabriella and Zeke make it in time for the show, and her classmates put together a surprise reunion complete with gifts, hugs, and a bouquet of roses from Zeke for Gabriella onstage during the performance of "Just Wanna Be with You."
During graduation, Zeke announces that Gabriella will attend Stanford University to take up law.
- 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"
It is a feminine form of the name Gabriel.
- 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 School's Freaky Genius Girl"
- Gabriella's zodiac sign is Gemini.