09/08/2007 AT 10:00 PM EDT
Following the appearance on the Web of a nude photo of Vanessa Hudgens, a source close to the situation tells PEOPLE that the High School Musical
actress once sent risqué photos of herself to Nickelodeon star Drake Bell.
Hudgens had emailed photos to the Drake and Josh
actor a couple of years ago, before she was famous, the source says.
Bell's rep, Jill Fritzo, tells PEOPLE of the images that began hitting blogs on Thursday: "Drake says he never received those photos."
Hudgens, 18, appeared in a 2006 episode of Bell's Nickelodeon show as his character's girlfriend. In real life, Hudgens is dating her High School Musical
costar Zac Efron
, and the two are in Australia at the moment, where he is promoting Hairspray.
In a statement Friday, Hudgens apologized
for the pictures and says she is "embarrassed over the situation and regret[s] having ever taken these photos."
The pictures, including one nude photo, first surfaced
on the Web Thursday, prompting her rep to issue a statement saying that the shot "was taken privately. It is a personal matter and it is unfortunate that this has become public."
The Disney Channel has said it is continuing negotiations with the High School Musical cast,
including Hudgens, for a third installment of the movie series, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment," Disney said in a statement. "We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."