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It seems like only yesterday I was shushing my entire family while I curled up on the couch with popcorn and M&M’s to watch the premiere of the latest DCOM to hit the small screen — High School Musical.


Disney

*Cue me going straight to Claire’s the next week and wearing only HSM merch for an uncomfortable amount of time.*

But alas, it wasn’t just yesterday. It was actually 15 years ago??? Time is fake, but anyway! To celebrate the film’s anniversary, Monique Coleman and Lucas Grabeel spoke to Insider to reflect on some iconic moments and share behind-the-scenes facts.


Disney Channel / ©Disney Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

And as a Black woman, I found one of those facts to be surprising, but not shocking.

Monique Coleman revealed that not only was Taylor’s iconic headband look her idea, but it was a solution to people on set being unable to do a Black girl’s hair.


Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

She suggested that they “just make that a part of who she is,” and honestly, so many over-achieving A-type characters have replicated the headband style. Looking at you Blair Waldorf and Rachel Berry.

“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,” Monique said.


Disney Channel / ©Disney Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

“But the truth is, is that they had done my hair and they had done it very poorly in the front. And we had to start filming before I had a chance to fix it. I was very lucky because the wardrobe department was very open to our feedback.”


Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

This is hardly the first time that Black women in Hollywood have experienced this problem. Actors like Yvette Nicole Brown to Gabrielle Union to Halle Berry have all recounted a time when they’ve had to deal with a hair department that was ill-equipped to do Black hair, sometimes even having to take their hair into their own hands.

Oftentimes, if a movie or TV show has limited diversity (which is usually the case), the powers that be don’t make it a priority to hire a hairstylist that can do Black hair and do it well.

And yet, despite the hair hurdle, Monique cherished being a part of HSM and appreciated that Taylor wasn’t a stereotypical Black girl.


Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

“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.


Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

“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.”

“I’m really grateful to have been someone who was able to bring representation at a time where there wasn’t very much,” she said, “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.”


Dee Cercone/Everett Collection

You can read Monique’s full interview with Insider here.





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