‘High School Musical’s Monique Coleman Criticizes the Film’s Crew for Styling Black Hair ‘Poorly’
Monique Coleman revealed that the reason her High School Musical character wore headbands was because the hair stylists on set did not know how to style Black hair properly.
On Tuesday (January 26), the 40-year-old actress who portrayed Taylor McKessie in the three Disney films spoke with Insider for the 2006 film's fifteenth anniversary.
"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," she told to the outlet. "But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front."
Coleman revealed the reason her character wore so many headbands in the first film was that the team did not have enough time to learn how to style the front of her hair correctly. She was the one who suggested that they incorporate headbands into Taylor's style and "make that a part of who she is." The headband was even featured on the Taylor McKessie Barbie doll.
Coleman said that she appreciated that her character was not the stereotypical Black girl portrayed in other films and she loved the fact that her character was so dynamic, as well as the smartest student at school.
"I'm really grateful to have been someone who was able to bring representation at a time where there wasn't very much, 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," she said. "So knowing that this generation got to look up to her really is special for me."
Coleman also shared that she and her HSM co-stars were "lucky" that Disney's wardrobe department was open to their personal feedback. Aside from the headband idea, Coleman also sparked the idea for Taylor's final outfit in the first movie during the "We're All in This Together" musical number.
She revealed that the schoolgirl skirt and blouse was a reference to Britney Spears' iconic "Baby One More Time" music video. "I thought, 'Oh, I think it would be really fun for Taylor to kind of have this sort of awakening moment," she explained. "And I thought the tie was a really cute look."