Zac Efron wins at Teen Choice Awards

As he prepares for the biggest role of his young career, Arroyo Grande native Zac Efron's star power was bolstered even more over the weekend, when he was named Best Breakout Star at the 2006 Teen Choice Awards.

The awards, presented by Teen People magazine and voted on by readers, reflect the hottest names in the entertainment industry. Other winners include Jessica Simpson, Rihanna, Jessica Alba, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom.

Nineteen-year-old Efron, whom director Adam Shankman dubbed "arguably the biggest teen star in America right now," was launched into stardom by the Disney Channel movie "High School Musical," which broke cable TV records and spawned a huge-selling soundtrack. Efron played the lead role, Troy Bolton.

While the sequel to "High School Musical" is preparing to film this fall, Efron is also slated to play a leading role in a remake of "Hairspray," directed by Shankman and starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken.

In addition to winning the Breakout Star award, Efron and "High School Musical" co-star Vanessa Anne Hudgens won the Best Chemistry award. And the musical itself took the Best Comedy/Musical award.

After the award ceremony, Teen People included Efron among its best dressed for the night, along with Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and Ludacris.

Efron started acting locally, with roles at the Unity Church and the Little Theatre in San Luis Obispo. He was a regular on the WB show "Summerland" and has done guest appearances on numerous TV shows. But, as Teen People declared, 2006 was "the year that 'High School Musical' launched Zac Efron into stardom."