The heartbreaking truth. Monique Coleman revealed that her High School Musical character’s signature hairband accessory was used to cover up the fact that the crew didn’t know how to style Black hair.
“We’ve grown a lot in this industry and we’ve grown a lot in representation and we’ve grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress,” the Mo’tivated Productions CEO, 40, told Insider on Tuesday, January 26. “But the truth is, is that they had done my hair and they had done it very poorly in the front.”
Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie in the films, said that she would suggest ways for stylists to “incorporate headbands into her character” and “just make that a part of who she is” since they didn’t have enough time to properly tend to the issue. She added that Disney and the wardrobe department were “very open” to feedback from the cast — something that she provided on her character’s look in “We’re All in This Together,” the first film’s final number.
Despite the hairstyling debacle, the No Kiss List actress is happy that her character served as a good portrayal of Black characters.
“I’m really grateful to have been someone who was able to bring representation at a time where there wasn’t very much,” she explained to the news outlet. “And I’m so happy when I see this next generation of young artists and there just being so much more room for people of color.”
Coleman appeared in all three High School Musical films alongside Zac Efron (Troy Bolton), Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez), Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans), Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans) and Corbin Bleu (Chad Danforth). The franchise was a massive success at the time, later spawning a concert tour from 2006 to 2007 and a spinoff series on Disney+ in 2019.
The first High School Musical film celebrated its 15th anniversary on January 20. In a recent interview with Variety, director Kenny Ortega opened up about how intense the audition process was for the movie’s young cast.
“We ran auditions as if we were doing a Broadway musical,” the 70-year-old filmmaker revealed on January 22. “We put the kids through a really long process. Agents would call casting directors saying, ‘What is going on? Why are you keeping them so long?’ I was set on making sure these actors had all that it would take.”
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Many years after the final film debuted in theaters in 2008, Coleman revealed that she and her costars have continued to keep in touch. “Throughout the years, we’ve attended each other’s weddings, welcomed some babies,” she told J-14 in 2017. “We’ve just really grown to be true friends and I think the energy people saw on screen was really indicative of how we feel about each other in real life.”
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