Columbia, SC, native Monique Coleman began her training as an actress at the Workshop Theater School of Dramatic Arts as a young girl, and eventually got her first commercial role in an audition that she didn't even realize she was taking part in. When a talent scout arrived in the classroom claiming to be a substitute teacher, Coleman was recruited to appear in a television commercial. In the wake of that early success, the ambitious young actress began auditioning for every role she could find in the Southeast region. As a result she would land roles in several local and regional commercials, and eventually make her debut as a female lead in the independently produced 1995 short Mother of the River. Two years later, Coleman was nominated for a Young Artist Award as a result of her performance in the Family Channel feature The Ditchdigger's Daughters, and after writing, producing, directing, and starring in the one-person play Voices from Within as a high-school sophomore she became increasingly involved in community activities. Later, after graduating from high school, Coleman earned her B.F.A. in acting from the Theater School at DePaul University in Chicago. Upon graduating from DePaul, Coleman jumped headlong into the acting arena and essayed supporting roles in such popular television shows as Malcolm in the Middle, Gilmore Girls, and Boston Public -- the later two of which found her returning for recurring roles. In 2005, Coleman appeared opposite James Earl Jones in the Hallmark Channel production of The Reading Room, with a substantial role in the hit Disney Channel production High School Musical and a recurring role on the same network's Emmy-nominated series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody following in quick succession. A 2006 stint as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars proved that Coleman could cut a rug with the best of them, and the following year she continued to move and shake by reprising her High School Musical role in the eagerly anticipated Disney Channel sequel.