The Spring Breakers star's father Greg lost his battle with cancer in January (16) at the age of 65.

After his death, Vanessa reveals her mother's positive attitude was central to helping her cope with own her grief.

"My mom looks out through such beautiful eyes," she told America's People magazine. "I've learned to follow her lead."

Vanessa explains, "She's so strong through the hardest of times. But she has this lightheartedness and this light that just beams out of her very being and it's so special."

The 27-year-old actress performed live on U.S. TV in the musical Grease: Live on 31 January (16), just hours after Greg's death, and dedicated the show to her late father.

She won huge plaudits for her performance as Rizzo, the musical's bad girl. Grease was a huge ratings hit in the U.S. with more than 12 million people tuning into the FOX network to watch the live adaptation of the 1978 movie.

Vanessa's co-stars praised her singing, acting and her ability to keep her composure while having to come to terms with the death of a parent.

"Imagine if you had a day like @VanessaHudgens & performed like that. Wow.What a strong woman.My new hero," her co-star Mario Lopez wrote on Twitter after the show.

Speaking to People, Vanessa adds, "Life is about perspective. The way you choose to see your life is the way your life is going to become. There are highs and there are lows. It sucks, but death happens.

"It never makes it easier but it happens to all of us. It's just something we have to get through until we all meet again in heaven."