“I definitely feel like people are gonna want to have their tissues ready,” the actress tells J-14 exclusively while promoting Blackbox TV’s latest VR series Scream Park. “It was such an amazing experience, just being back with Corbin [Bleu], Lucas [Grabeel], Kaycee [Stroh] and Alyson [Reed] just to return to the place where our lives changed so drastically. To be there with an entirely new group of young people that are embodying this story in their own ways, was just such a fun experience.”
It was announced at the Disney D23 Expo in September that HSMTMTS would be returning for a fourth season set back at East High. Once back at school the teens learn that the school is being used to film the long-awaited High School Musical 4: The Reunion movie, and they’ll all be playing featured extras.
“There’s kind of a difference between the old school and the current [stars] and I think it’ll be obvious,” Monique, who played Taylor McKessie in the original film series, teases. She called it “inspiring” to work with the HSMTMTS cast, which includes Joshua Bassett, Sofia Wylie, Julia Lester and Frankie Rodriguez, among others.
“They are so grounded, talented and they have the most beautiful energy. They’re so loving together,” the former Disney Channel star gushes. “In a way, I guess it was like watching little versions of us, I would imagine … if we had the ability to look back at ourselves at that time. It was just amazing to see people who have amassed so much success just be such lovely people. I didn’t really expect anything that differently, but it was just incredible to be around. Their work ethic is unmatched.”
Monique shares a behind-the-scenes memory, recalling “a moment on set where everything got really loud” and how HSMTMTS creator Tim Federle “got on the microphone and he asked the entire cast and crew to take three deep breaths together and to come back in the room.”
The Lifetime star remembers the “powerful” moment, adding, “I had never, in my 30-something-year-career, had a moment where instead of topping the energy by yelling or just getting frustrated, that instead he brought a mindfulness exercise to everyone.”
Overall, Monique was impressed with the way in which Hollywood is “approaching this work is really changing.” She says, “For it to be on a set that is predominantly really young people, really gives me hope for how this industry is transitioning in the ways that it’s going to support its child stars moving forward. That was incredibly inspiring and something I’d never seen before.”
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