Monique Coleman rose to fame after portraying the iconic role of Taylor McKessie in the High School Musical movies, and now she’s using her platform to empower youth through her new show, Gimme Mo. We caught up with Monique, and she spilled to J-14 all about why she thinks HSM has truly stood the test of time – especially one particularly profound quote from Troy Bolton (AKA the one and only Zac Efron). Watch the video above to hear Monique fangirl over her favorite HSM moments and discuss the lessons that still hold true today.

“As time has gone by, you start to realize that you don’t get a lot of opportunities that change your whole life, and that is one of them,” Monique tells us, as she reflects on High School Musical. “I am a true fan of High School Musical because of the messaging – and the one that has stayed with me is the fact that you don’t have to be one thing. There was that moment that Zac turned around and he’s just like, ‘Maybe I want to be both.'”

troy bolton

Credit: Disney Channel

Seeing as the movie-musicals are arguably the most legendary Disney Channel Original Movies in history, it goes without saying that HSM changed Monique’s life. The 37-year-old star was in her early twenties when the movie first premiered, but despite all the time that’s passed, there’s still a very special place for HSM in her heart. But believe it or not, she wasn’t a fan at first.

“I’m now a fan. To be honest, when it started, I wasn’t. I was 24-years-old. It was exciting, but it was also still kind of like, yeah, this is cute. And that’s just the truth, you know?” the star spills.

However, she now appreciates the important messages in the movies.

“It’s so true. You don’t have to choose between being an athlete or being a mathlete, like you can be whatever it is you want to be. There’s time and room to do all of it,” Monique explains.

Another important message Monique loves from the films? Putting yourself first.

“I don’t think it was said, but the fact that Gabriella chose herself. I think that’s important. They chose each other, but she also chose herself. She chose what she knew she needed to do to move forward, and then [Troy] met her there,” Monique adds. “I appreciate that now more, as I’ve gotten older and I’ve been working on issues with girls and so forth – you have both, but chose you. Put yourself first.”

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