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Zac Efron

Monique Coleman Biography


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Birth Name: Monique Coleman
Born: 11/13/1980


Born Nov. 13, 1980 in Orangeburg, SC, Coleman developed an interest in performing at an early age. She trained at the Workshop Theatre School of Dramatic Arts, which led to her first screen appearance in a commercial, thanks to a guest teacher. More regional commercials soon led to supporting roles in film projects that were shooting in the region, the first of which was the independent short "Mother of the River" (1995). This effort was quickly followed by a performance in the original made-for-TV movie "The Ditchdigger's Daughter" (Family Channel, 1997), which earned her a Young Artists Award nomination. While further pursuing her acting career, Coleman remained very active at the Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, where she continued to participate in sports and academic activities, in addition to writing, directing and starring in a one-person show, "Voices from Within."

After graduating from high school, Coleman attended DePaul University in Chicago and earned a BFA in acting from their Theater School. She then dove into acting full-time, managing to garner an impressive list of television credits in a short amount of time, among them stints on "Gilmore Girls" (The CW, 2000-07), "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06), and a semi-recurring role on "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04). Shortly thereafter, she co-starred with one of her acting influences, the legendary James Earl Jones, in the TV movie "The Reading Room" (Hallmark Channel, 2005). The project earned her a Camie Award, which she shared with her castmates and director-co-star, Georg Stanford Brown.

Then came the unexpectedly huge pop-culture sensation "High School Musical" (Disney Channel, 2006). Coleman was immediately thrust into the spotlight, thanks to the movie's staggering success. As Taylor McKessie, head of the school's academic club, Coleman was the best friend and voice of reason to Vanessa Hudgens' Gabrielle - though in true Hollywood musical fashion, her desire to keep Gabrielle out of the musical tryouts in order to use her brain for the academic competition falls by the wayside in the face of a good old fashioned song and dance number. During the course of the song-laden melodrama, Taylor even gets a hint of a romance with second banana Chad (Corbin Bleu), a relationship explored in the sequel.

Unlike several of her "HSM" co-stars, Coleman was not pursuing a pop music career, though her voice clearly indicated that she had the chops for it. Instead, she continued to make appearances on the very popular Disney Channel series "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" (2005-08) as Mary-Margaret, best friend to the show's lead (and her "HSM" castmate) Ashley Tisdale. Coleman was also frequently joined by Hudgens for her "Suite Life" turns. Adding further luster to her already burgeoning career, in 2006, Coleman became a contestant on the third season of the popular reality series, "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Partnered with Louis Van Amstel, Coleman fared well with the judges and voting public alike, even performing to "Bop to the Top" - one of the most popular tunes from the "HSM" soundtrack. Although she finished in fourth place, Coleman more than earned the respect of her fellow contestants, her partner and the judges. Thankfully, she gave grateful fans more chances to see her perform when she joined the "Dancing with the Stars" tour the following year.

Coleman then rejoined the gang from East High School in August of that year for the hugely anticipated "High School Musical 2" (Disney Channel, 2007). The made-for-TV movie, revolving around Troy's (Zac Efron) dilemma over raising funds for college or spending the summer with Gabrielle, shattered all previous cable television records. Bolstered by the phenomenal success, the group graduated to feature film status with "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" (2008), which one again exceeded expectations, enjoying the biggest box-office opening ever for a musical film at the time. Coleman later made guest appearances on such primetime fare as the romantic police procedural "Bones" (Fox, 2005- ) and the Seth McFarlane-produced animated series "The Cleveland Show" (Fox, 2009- ). In 2010, Coleman was named as the first-ever United Nations Youth Champion for its International Year of Youth. As part of her efforts in the honorary position, that same year she hosted and executive produced "Gimme Mo'," an online talk show dedicated to empowering contemporary youth.

By Bryce Coleman