She’s not Taylor McKessie anymore, but Monique Coleman has definitely come a long way from her High School Musical days!

Ever since the final HSM flick premiered in 2008, the actress has continued her career with various projects over the years. In fact, Monique even reunited with her former costar Corbin Bleu in 2021 for the Lifetime holiday movie A Christmas Dance Reunion

“13 years ago, we may have hung up our #wildcat hats but we’re #stillinthistogether,” the former Disney Channel star captioned an Instagram post in November 2021 when debuting the movie’s trailer. “I’m SO excited for you all to meet Lucy + Barrett on December 3rd on @lifetime.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Monique and one of her HSM costars hung out following the fan-favorite franchise. She’s stayed in touch with the Wildcats and even reminisced about working on the movies in various interviews.

“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,” she told Insider in January 2021. “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.”

Further discussing representation in the High School Musical films, Monique also explained the story behind her character’s signature headbands.

“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,” she told Insider. “But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”

Since the crew was “very open to our feedback,” Monique suggested that they should make headbands “a part of who she is.” She also explained that viewers “loved” Taylor because “she was smart and supportive.”

“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,” she added. “So, knowing that this generation got to look up to her really is special for me.”

Scroll through our gallery to see Monique’s transformation from High School Musical to now. 

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.