Entertainment TV Corbin Bleu on His 'HSM' Family and Returning to East High for 'HSMTMTS' Season 4: 'I Started Crying' "It's family. It is unconditional love," Bleu tells PEOPLE of his High School Musical costars By Kelsie Gibson Kelsie Gibson Twitter Kelsie Gibson is the SEO Editor of PEOPLE Digital. Since joining the brand in 2021, she has contributed to a number of different verticals, writing and editing SEO content ranging from relationship timelines to TV and movie explainers. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Kelsie worked at POPSUGAR as the Celebrity and Entertainment editor, where she wrote and edited content and conducted various interviews for online and video at press junkets, red carpets, and events such as Tribeca Film Festival. She was also formerly at Bustle, Tiger Beat, and Her Campus and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. People Editorial Guidelines Published on February 23, 2023 03:24 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Photo: Fred Hayes/Disney Even after all this time, Corbin Bleu says the High School Musical cast is still family. While speaking to PEOPLE about PBS' Black Broadway: A Proud History, A Limitless Future, the new special he's starring in, Bleu reflects on the hit Disney Channel franchise that helped launch his career. "I don't think that I fully understood its impact, until later on in life," the 34-year-old actor says of the films. "A lot of us were in our teenage years, we were just having a great time. We worked hard, we were hungry. We were giving everything, all of our body to this project, which I do think is a major factor towards its success." Look Back at All the High School Musical Cast Reunions Over the Years Bleu says that he really began to appreciate the project later in life after hearing fans reflect on how much the movies meant to them growing up. "I have the people that I look up to. I have the people that when I see them or I hear their voice, it gives me that boost of, 'I can do this, I know I can do this.' As much as I love doing it, I don't think of myself as that person," says Bleu, who played Chad Danforth in the franchise. "It's not until I hear those kinds of stories [from fans] that I'm reminded that I am that to other people." Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock He also notes how important it was to have his and Monique Coleman's character Taylor McKessie at the center of the HSM movies. "We actually did get to see these two young people of color that were up there doing their thing and succeeding in it," he explains. "There have been people that have come up to me and told me about its impact and I'm just grateful. And I always want to continue to be deserving of that." Corbin Bleu on Honoring Black Broadway Legends with PBS Concert Special: 'It's a Community' After appearing in season 3 of Disney+'s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series as a fictionalized version of himself, Bleu is set to reprise his role as Chad alongside his former HSM costars — Coleman, Lucas Grabeel, Kaycee Stroh, Bart Johnson and Alyson Reed — in the show's upcoming fourth season as it puts on a fictionalized HSM 4. While Bleu says it was nostalgic returning to East High for the first time, one thing he didn't expect was how emotional it would be. "As a Pisces and as an artist, I am very wishy-washy, but at the same time, I don't get emotional. I don't cry," he explains. "I did not expect the reaction that I had when walking back into East High. Even when I first saw it, just driving up, I took my breath away and I was like, 'Whoa. This is doing something to me. Why?'" Fred Hayes/Disney "It wasn't until showing up there that all of these emotions came up," he continues. "When I walked into the gym, that was actually when I started crying. I had so many life-changing special experiences in that room where we shot 'Get'cha Head in the Game,' where we shot 'We're All in This Together,' where we had so many emotional, important scenes, crazy moments. It wasn't until going back and just seeing it again going, 'I can't believe this.' It really was gratitude." Corbin Bleu Says Returning to HSM Franchise 14 Years Later Was an 'Emotional Roller Coaster' Bleu adds that the films really bonded the cast — which also includes Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale — in a special way, even after all these years. "It's family," he says. "It is unconditional love. We went through such a crazy unique experience and we went through it together." Fred Hayes/The Disney Channel/Kobal/Shutterstock "Sometimes we get to see each other, sometimes we don't and we're all doing our own thing. Whenever that moment does come that we actually get to be in the same room, it's just family, it's comfort," he continues. "We recently just had a convention that we did in Paris, and there was just a moment when we were all in a car and Vanessa and I just looked at each other and we both had that moment of, 'I love you,'" he adds. "It doesn't matter how much time passes, it is just such a love and respect." Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. "We're always proud of each other. Whenever there's success from one of them, I feel it. I'm proud of it."