Who is Austin Butler’s girlfriend Kaia Gerber and why is her run-in with Vanessa Hudgens such a big deal?

Side by side photos of Austin Butler (L), Kaia Gerber(M), and Vanessa Hudgens (R), all three on the red carpet of various premieres
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images / Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

For nearly nine years, Austin Butler and Vanessa Hudgens were Hollywood’s power-couple with a track record so reputable many believed they would last a lifetime. However, in 2020, that all came to a screeching halt when the pair unexpectedly (and devastatingly) separated with little to no explanation. 

Both Butler and Hudgens have moved on and dated new people, but a decade-old photo of Butler’s new girlfriend, Kaia Gerber, is making headlines, but not for any reason you may think. 

As it turns out, Gerber and Hudgens have met before, back when Hudgens was dating High School Musical co-star Zac Efron. Gerber, who is now 20 years old, was around five years old when she attended a High School Musical 2 event. Hudgens, who is now 33 years old, was 18. The photo, which went viral on Twitter over the weekend, shows Hudgens bending over to shake little Kaia Gerber’s hand. 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the image or the meeting of Hudgens and Gerber over 15 years ago, it’s hard not to bulge your eyes at the sight of seeing a grown Vanessa Hudgens shaking the hand of a little Kaia Gerber, who is currently in the thicket of romance with Hudgens ex-boyfriend of nine years, Austin Butler. It’s all just a tad too icky. 

Who is Kaia Gerber?

Kaia Gerber is the daughter of internationally famous supermodel and television personality, Cindy Crawford (the resemblance is truly striking). Like her mother, Gerber also has a career in modeling, one that dates back all the way to 2010 when she was just 10 years old.

Her official runway debut came in 2018, when she walked the Calvin Klein runway at the SS18 (spring 2018) fashion show, although she’d done plenty modeling work before then, namely with Hudson Jeans, 2018 was a big year for Gerber considering that was also the year she landed her first solo cover with Vogue Paris

In the four years since 2018 and today, she’s attended the Met Gala multiple times and walked over 50 shows for brands like “Dior, Versace, Chanel, Miu Miu, Off-White,” according to Cosmopolitan

While Gerber is still very much active in the modeling world, she is also flexing her acting chops on TV shows like American Horror Story and American Horror Stories (the latter of which is both a launch pad for new actors and a playground for established ones). 

Gerber’s latest project is the role of Mitzi in Mrs. American Pie, an upcoming Apple Studies comedy series. The show is currently in pre-production and doesn’t have a release date yet. 

How did Kaia Gerber and Austin Butler meet?

Gerber and Butler have done a solid job of keeping their relationship private. The Elvis star is nowhere to be found on her social media, and likewise, she is nowhere to be found on his. Their only appearance on social media comes in the form of an Elvis-inspired photoshoot for VMAN magazine. (pictured above). See the tiny tattoo on the arm wrapped around Butler’s neck? That’s Gerber’s. Additionally, only a handful of outlets have spotted them out in the wild together.

It’s unclear how they met, but when is much easier to pin down. After his breakup with Hudgens and her breakup with Jacob Elordi from Euphoria, the two lovebirds were first spotted together at a yoga class in Los Angeles in Dec. 2021, according to The Daily Mail. The couple were hardly shy about holding hands in public, but neither had made an official announcement until they finally walked the red carpet together at the May 2022 Met Gala, making their relationship “red carpet official” — a vitally important phase in Hollywood relationships.

Since then, Gerber has been a devoted and supportive partner to Butler as he navigates the success of his hit movie, Elvis. Gerber has appeared by his side at several promotional events. The two seem to be going strong. It’s highly unlikely the resurgence of Gerber’s decade-old photo with Hudgens will elicit a comment from either of them. It merely highlights the 10-year age gap that made their relationship a hot topic in the first place.

A complete timeline of Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler’s nine year relationship can be found here