- The “High School Musical” star Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie) spoke with Insider for the film’s 15th anniversary.
- Coleman said she came up with the idea for Taylor to wear headbands because the crew initially did her hair “poorly in the front.”
- As an alternative, Coleman suggested the accessory be incorporated into Taylor’s outfits to “make that a part of who she is.”
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The “High School Musical” star Monique Coleman said she came up with the idea for her character Taylor McKessie to wear a variety of headbands in the 2006 movie because the crew didn’t know how to work with 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 40-year-old told Insider in an interview for the movie’s 15th anniversary.
“But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front,” she said.
Coleman said crew members were short on time to fix her hair before filming began, so she suggested that they “incorporate headbands into her character” and “just make that a part of who she is.”
She added that she and her castmates were “lucky” because Disney and the film’s wardrobe department were “very open to our feedback.”
Taylor also went on to wear an assortment of headbands that perfectly coordinated with her outfits in the “High School Musical” sequels released in 2007 and 2008.
In addition to the headband suggestion, Coleman got to help create Taylor’s look for the final number of the first movie, “We’re All in This Together.”
The actress said Taylor’s button-down shirt and pleated skirt were an homage to Britney Spears‘ 1998 music video for “Baby One More Time.”
“I thought, ‘Oh, I think it would be really fun for Taylor to kind of have this sort of awakening moment,” Coleman said. “And I thought the tie was a really cute look.
“That was so, so long ago that the ‘One More Time’ video was still relevant and I thought, ‘Huh, wouldn’t it be kind of cool if Taylor’s look had a nod to that in some way?'”
While discussing the legacy of “High School Musical,” Coleman told Insider she was grateful for the opportunity to play Taylor and be a role model for fans who seldom saw themselves reflected on-screen.
“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 colour,” Coleman said.
The actress also said her “High School Musical” part was special to her because Taylor wasn’t a stereotypical Black character.
“It means the world to me, particularly because Taylor is such a dynamic character and the smartest person at school and all of that at a time where, often, Black girl characters tended to be the ones who had an attitude or to be sassy,” she said.
Coleman added: “And I appreciated that that wasn’t why people loved Taylor. They loved her because she was smart and supportive. And it definitely means a lot to me for people to see her. There was Taylor before the Obamas were a thing. So we didn’t have people to look up to.
“So knowing that this generation got to look up to her really is special for me.”
- Read more:
- THEN AND NOW: The cast of the ‘High School Musical’ movies 15 years later
- ‘High School Musical’ stars Lucas Grabeel and Monique Coleman break down iconic scenes from the franchise 15 years later
- ‘High School Musical’ star Lucas Grabeel reveals his character Ryan did have a crush on another male character â€” but it wasn’t Chad
- ‘High School Musical’ star Lucas Grabeel weighs in on a long-debated outfit swap between Ryan and Chad in the sequel