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Zac Efron Biography: Life and Career of the Actor and Singer

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born October 18th, 1987 and raised in Arroyo Grande, California, Zac Efron began acting on television during his mid-teens. He got his big break on Disney's "High School Musical," which showed off both is acting and singing abilities. His good looks and many talents soon turned him into a teen heartthrob as Efron took on other roles in feature films such as "Hairspray," "17 Again" and "The Lucky One." In this video, we take a look at the life and career of American actor and singer Zac Efron.

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Early Talent

Zachary David Alexander Efron was born October 18th, 1987 and raised in Arroyo Grande, California. When he was eleven, his family started noticing his artistic talents and convinced him to pursue acting.

Theater and First TV Role

He soon appeared in local theatrical productions and took lessons to improve his vocal skills while attending high school. His performances eventually got him signed to a talent agency and he landed his first guest role on television’s “Firefly” in 2002.

More Television Appearances

Following a few more guest spots, he won a plumper role as an autistic twin in the TV movie “Miracle Run.” Next, Efron turned his recurring role as Cameron Bale into a series regular on the program “Summerland.” The show’s 2005 cancelation didn’t stop the young actor from working: he continued to guest on a few television programs and even played fifteen year-old Patrick Mcardle in the drama “The Derby Stallion.”

“High School Musical”

Efron’s big break came along in 2006 when he starred in the successful TV film “High School Musical,” which gave the Disney Channel some of its highest ratings to that point. Combining comedy and drama with musical numbers, it had Efron show off his acting and singing skills as high school athlete Troy Bolton. When the movie was later released on DVD, it made history by selling over one million copies in less than a week.

“High School Musical” Soundtrack

“High School Musical” spawned a comparably successful soundtrack that featured songs performed by cast members. The single “Breaking Free” put Efron on the fourth position of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, the star’s singing abilities were briefly called into question when it was publicized that his vocals had been combined with those of another singer.

Teen Choice Awards

This did little to diminish Efron’s reputation. In fact, his status as a hunky teen celebrity was further reinforced by his win as Breakout Star at the Teen Choice Awards. Efron and co-star Vanessa Hudgens also won the award for TV – Choice Chemistry, and they later turned that chemistry into a real-life relationship.


2007 was Efron’s most successful year yet. Aside from some television appearances, he was cast in Hudgens’ music video “Say OK.” Then, the actor starred in one of the most commercially successful musical films in its genre: “Hairspray.” Efron’s Link Larkin, as well as his vocal performance, received praise and the movie proved popular with critics.

“High School Musical 2”

While his mainstream recognition grew, Efron revisited the character of Troy Bolton in “High School Musical 2,” and this time he performed all his own vocals. The TV movie became the most watched production both on cable and The Disney Channel with seventeen million viewers tuning in.

“High School Musical 3”

The next year, Efron returned to student life in the theatrical release of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” Solidifying the franchise’s power, its box office debut proved to be the biggest ever for a movie musical.

Major Motion Picture Roles

In 2009, Efron hosted the television program “Saturday Night Live” ahead of the release of “17 Again.” In the comedy, he portrayed the teenage version of Matthew Perry’s adult character Mike O'Donnell. This was followed by the wide North American release of the well-received period drama “Me and Orson Welles,” in which Efron played the role of the young Richard Samuels.

More Hollywood Movies

He spent the next few years working on numerous films. In 2010, he took on the title character in the romantic drama “Charlie St. Cloud.” Efron was then billed alongside such seasoned actors like Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2011 romantic comedy “New Year’s Eve.”


Efron then lent his voice to Ted, the protagonist of the computer-animated film “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.” He also demonstrated his dramatic chops as a U.S. Marine in the book-turned-movie “The Lucky One.”

Teen Heartthrob

Though Zac Efron first achieved fame for his teen heartthrob status; his acting, singing and dancing skills show that he is more than just a pretty face.

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