“We've grown a lot in terms of understanding the needs of an African American actress,” she said of the film industry

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Monique Coleman high school musical
Monique Coleman
| Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

Monique Coleman says her signature headband look in High School Musical was the solution to a bigger issue – inexperienced styling of a Black actor's hair. 

The actress, 40, who played the role of Taylor McKessie in the Disney Channel films, told Insider that her character always wore statement headbands because stylists did her hair "very poorly."

A rep for Disney Channel did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"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," Coleman said. 

She then revealed, "But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front."

Monique Coleman,
Credit: courtesy Everett Collection

The High School Musical alum says she ended up suggesting to stylists that they "incorporate headbands into her character" and "just make that a part of who she is" because they didn't have time to fix her hair in time for filming.

Although Coleman had to hurdle the obstacle of advocating for better hairstyling, she was happy to be a role model for Black teens and children watching the movie. 

"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 said.

More specifically, the actress shared that she was happy about how her character lived outside of stereotypes. 

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"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," she said. "And I appreciated that that wasn't why people loved Taylor. They loved her because she was smart and supportive."

Coleman added, "So knowing that this generation got to look up to her really is special for me."