High School Musical star Monique Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie in the film, recently spoke with Insider for the film’s 15th anniversary.
During the interview, Coleman divulged that she came up with the idea for her beloved character to wear headbands because the film’s crew lacked diversity in styling Black hair. The actress explained that due to time constraints, the crew members lacked the ability to fix her hair before filming started. She proposed that they “incorporate headbands into her character” and “just make that a part of who she is.”
Coleman reminisced, “[T]he truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front”. Luckily for Coleman and other castmates, Disney and the film’s wardrobe department were “very open” to their feedback Coleman also noted the growth in the industry in terms of ” representation and understanding the needs of an African American actress”.
She also revealed that her creative input extended to Taylor’s look in the final number “We’re All in This Together.” The look was influenced by Britney Spears’ hit “..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…and I thought the tie was a really cute look,” Coleman stated. “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 also expressed her gratitude for Taylor not being 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.” Coleman continued, “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 knowing that this generation got to look up to her really is special for me.”