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Vanessa Hudgens Sparks Backlash Over Photoshoot In Cemetery Which She Dubbed Her ‘Happy Place’

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With Halloween creeping up on us, influencers on social media are endeavoring to scare up likes on social media with frightfully imaginative photoshoots.

One celebrity, however, was slammed on social media and accused of being insensitive with her autumnal post.

Vanessa Hudgens – who rose to fame with the High School Musical film series – posted a series of Instagram photos wearing a black dress and a mask inside of New York’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

She referred to the historical burial grounds as her “Happy place.”

After much backlash, the captioned was updated to read:

“Searching for that headless horseman.”


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Searching for that headless horseman 😉🖤

A post shared by 🔮Vanessa Hudgens🔮 (@vanessahudgens) on

Hudgens’ first post consisted of two photos – one in black and white and the other in color.

Social media users were dismayed over her post and its previous caption.

One Instagram user wrote:

“Why would you pose in a cemetery and post ‘happy place?’ Bruh.”

Another said:

“Um am I the only one who finds that disrespectful?

And this user wrote:

“Your happy place is the burial place of someone’s loved one? Someone’s sad place? Dark.”

Reaction to the controversy continued on Twitter. 

But not everyone was quick to put the actress on blast. Few people pointed out the cemetery is a tourist spot and is the subject of many photoshoots.

Many famous people were interred at Sleepy Hollow – including Washingon Irving, who wrote the short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820.

The “Headless Horseman” Hudgens referred to in her revised post is the mythical entity featured in Irving’s story, and is depicted as a man on horseback carrying his head under his arm.

The cemetery – which was incorporated in 1849 as Tarrytown Cemetery –was posthumously renamed in honor of Irving’s famous story at his request.

Hudgens’ second post in the same outfit continued over at Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown Heights, New York, captioning it with:

“Apple pickin season.”


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Apple pickin season

A post shared by 🔮Vanessa Hudgens🔮 (@vanessahudgens) on

In her third and final post, the actress added four more photos from the cemetery and commented:

“What. A beautiful. Place.”


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What. A beautiful. Place.

A post shared by 🔮Vanessa Hudgens🔮 (@vanessahudgens) on

People did not take kindly to seeing her posing among gravestones of the departed.

One user wrote:

“Whoa cheap move. Pretty tactless. Those are someone’s family.”

Another said:

“This is giving me some strange vibes.”

One user felt for the families represented by the tombstones Hudgens used as photo ops.

“Yikes. I dont think the families of the people buried there would appreciate this..”

Another commented on the inappropriate photo location.

“Uhhhh I don’t think a cemetery is the right place for a photo op…”

Finally, Hudgens responded to one critic, who said:

“This is disrespectful. You’re prancing around like it’s some amusement park. The caption is just why? Clearly you have never been to a burial. It’s not a happy place for anyone.”

Hudgens replied:

“I buried my father in a cemetery. I love cemeteries. They’re beautiful. Especially that one. It’s historical and I love history.”


Time will tell if further criticisms of her photoshoot at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery will finally be laid to rest.

Koh Mochizuki

Written by Koh Mochizuki

Koh Mochizuki is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally hailing from Los Angeles, he received his B.A. in English literature and is fluent in Japanese. Disney parks are his passion, and endless cups of coffee are a necessity. Instagram: kohster Twitter: @kohster1