Long after graduating from the “High School Musical” franchise, Monique Coleman didn’t have quite the reunion with Hollywood she was expecting.
“I went on 35 auditions in 2012,” Coleman explains to Made in Hollywood, adding, “I remember because I specifically counted.”
Coleman was catapulted to tween fame as a supporting player in 2006’s “High School Musical,” a multi-culti Velveeta-like Disney Channel movie that put its leading star Zac Efron on the heartthrob radar and boosted the careers of Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale.
The Kenny Ortega-directed teen romance spawned the sequel “High School Musical 2” the following year. In 2008, the momentum led to “High School Musical 3: Senior Year”— the final chapter in the franchise that proved to be such a hit for the Mouse that it got a big screen theatrical release rather than a cable TV debut.
At 28 years old, class was over for the actress playing East High’s yearbook editor Taylor McKessie.
“When ‘High School Musical’ was over I left—I left the industry. I traveled, I got married, I moved to New York, I worked for the United Nations,” she recalls of her subsequent showbiz hiatus. “I did all this other stuff for a while, and then I woke up one day and I felt this void—this whole in my heart.”
Coleman’s time away from her craft was no brief summer break—it was nearly five years.
“When I came back I was terrified,” she recalled. She says she wasn’t sure if there was going to be “a place for me.”
“Was I only going to be seen as the girl from ‘High School Musical?’” she says she thought at the time.
Aside from a few bit TV episode parts a year after the final “High School Musical” installment, Coleman didn’t return in front of the camera until 2014’s indie comedy “Free the Nipple,” which offered an edgier credit to her tween-skewed resume. A year later she had a part in another indie comedy—“Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List,” a love triangle comedy that debuted at OutFest.
Now, the 35-year-old can be seen in “The Fourth Door,” a sci-fi web series that premiered in October and is available via streaming on Verizon’s new platform Go90. Coleman takes on the role of Lain, who protects a young boy as they navigate a strange and dangerous world.
“The Fourth Door” is produced by New Form Digital, a venture backed by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Watch the trailer below.