She is best known for her role in Disney’s High School Musical movies, where she plays Taylor McKessie, one of the main characters. But currently, Monique Coleman has put her work and celebrity lifestyle on the backburner, to dedicate herself a different cause — the youth.
The actor was in the city as part of a global five-month tour as the first ever UN Youth Champion for the International Year of Youth (August 2010 to August 2011).
“I’m here to listen to what messages young people want me to take back to the UN,” she says, adding, “Issues in the US are vastly different from those in developing countries. Problems in Asia involve things like child marriage, human trafficking, apart from the lack of clean water, basic sanitation and education. This is a whole other world.”
Though Coleman doesn’t feel her status as a television star helps people take her more seriously, she hopes to use it to explain that the cause is not hers alone.
As part of her three-day trip to Mumbai, she first visited an Islamic center, before heading to Bombay Scottish School in Mahim.
“For the first time, I was in a room with so many men,” she says, adding that it was a great opportunity to interact with people who had strong opinions on racial and religious discriminations.
Though she hasn’t been exposed to a lot of Bollywood, she watched Bend It Like Beckham on the flight to India.
“I have never seen people have so much fun singing and dancing. I learned that there are also films that aren’t so over-the-top and boisterous, but I think the world needs more of these kinds of films,” she says, adding that Danny Boyle’s Oscar Award-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire, too gave the world an insight into the country.