‘High School Musical’ Star Monique Coleman Says Her Character Wore Headbands Because The Crew Didn’t Know How To Style Black Hair
It can’t be stressed enough–representation is so important, from the producers down to wardrobe when it comes to TV and film. “High School Musical” star Monique Coleman’s story is a prime example of that.
She recently revealed in an interview with Insider that she came up with the idea for her “High School Musical” character Taylor McKessie to wear a variety of headbands back in the 2006 movie because the styling 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,” Coleman, who is now 40, said 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 didn’t have much 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.”
Coleman added that she and her castmates were “lucky” because Disney and the film’s wardrobe department were “very open to our feedback.”
The look stayed with her character throughout the franchise as 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 lent a creative hand in Taylor’s look for the final number of the first movie, “We’re All in This Together.”
She 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?’”
Coleman definitely shared her appreciation for being part of the films, saying she was grateful for the opportunity to play Taylor and be a role model for fans who rarely 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 color,” Coleman said.
She added 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.”
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