Last month, High School Musical star and forever favorite Monique Coleman was a judge at The Allstate Foundations’ Good Starts Young Rally hosted with Peace First to empower young people to make changes in their communities. Next month, you can catch her starring in season three of Guidance from AwesomenessTV on Go90. J-14 caught up with the star to find out why it was so important to her to be involved with both — and how you can follow in her footsteps.
In case you didn’t hear about it, The Allstate Foundation and Peace First asked teens across the country to come up with solutions to problems they saw in their community. At the Good Starts Young Rally, the top ten teams presented their projects to the judges — including Monique — for the chance to win a $10,000 prize to further their cause.
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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
We love that Monique is encouraging teens to get involved in their communities and make a difference! “If there’s a world issue, that’s an issue that’s pressing for teens,” Monique told us. “What I was so excited about with the Good Starts Young Rally was that they were leaving it up to the young people to identify what they perceive to be the issues."
When we told her that she was starting to sound like a grown-up version of her HSM character — after all, Taylor’s goals were to change the world as the president of the United States — she laughed. “100 percent,” she agreed. “I feel like I’m where Taylor probably would be, what she would be doing.”
Another thing Taylor would be doing? Teaming up with other awesome girls like Camp Rock’s Michi… kind of like how Monique and Demi Lovato teamed up IRL. Monique, who was named the first-ever United Nations Youth Champion in 2010, has worked with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation organization, for more than six years. In May, she supported Demi’s work with Girl Up after her Fabletics collaboration committed to donating some of their proceeds.
(Photo Credit: Instagram)
But Demi isn’t the only person Monique’s recently seen from her Disney days. She shared that she still keeps in touch with a lot of her old castmates. In fact, she recently went to Ashley Tisdale’s housewarming party and got dinner with Corbin Bleu. “Throughout the years, we’ve attended each other’s weddings, welcomed some babies. We’ve just really grown to be true friends and I think the energy people saw on screen was really indicative of how we feel about each other in real life.”
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She's built new relationships on the set of her upcoming show, Guidance, too. It’s an anthology series — meaning each season tells a new story — and Monique will be starring as the guidance counselor herself in season three with influencers like Amymarie Gaertner, Meg DeAngelis, and Crawford Collins.
“I’m playing Katina Howard,” Monqiue said. “She’s someone who is very loving and very supportive.” But when tragedy strikes the school where Katina works, things take a turn for the worst. “Katina discovers that she doesn’t know her student body as well as she thought she did. She’s not as aware of the issues that are happening in and around her school and it really shakes her to her core.”
One of those issues? Racism, something Monique has been vocal about on Instagram.
“One of the issues Guidance brings up is how people are treated differently based on race. The way that one person might be treated differently for something less severe than someone else based on their race. That’s an essential part of this season,” Monique revealed. But despite the serious nature of the show, the cast still found ways to keep things light. “Megan Suri [who also worked on the show] was always like, ‘Nobody’s going to believe how funny you are! Nobody’s gonna believe how silly you are!’ because I’m so serious in character.”
But for Monique, this wasn’t just a serious role — it was also an important one. “Any time that my work as an actress can overlap with what I want to do in the world, that’s just like the best thing possible,” she admitted. “It’s a lot more satisfying than if I was just playing a part that didn’t have as much personal meaning to me.”
We can’t wait to see it — and we’ll definitely keeping an eye out for it on Go90 sometime soon!
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