If you were a tween or teen in the mid-2000s, chances are you knew the lyrics to every single song from High School Musical. Okay, real talk: you could probably still recite a lot of them now. This Disney Channel Original Movie classic – and its two sequels – were all the rage back in the day. We all wanted to be Gabriella Montez, brainiac-turned-musical-theatre-star. We all wished we were as fabulous as Sharpay Evans. Likewise, we all memorized the dance moves to “We’re All In This Together,” just in case our time in the spotlight was just around the corner. You know it’s true.
Brace yourselves: turns out the first High School Musical movie is now a whole thirteen years old. That’s basically how old WE were when we loved it! Where has the time gone? As you’d expect, the last decade-and-a-bit have seen the series’ cast change an awful lot. You’ll have seen Zac Efron all over the place: it seems like he’s cast in every other blockbuster these days. But what happened to some of the more minor characters in the HSM world? Is Martha’s actress still hoppin’ and boppin’? Likewise, did adorable baker Zeke ever make his perfect crème brûlée? You’ll have to read on to find out…
16. Zac Efron (Troy Bolton)
It’s safe to say that Zac Efron has come a long way since his High School Musical days. Back then, Efron was a fresh-faced teen who’d just got his first big acting break. He was dating his co-star Vanessa Hudgens (R.I.P. Zanessa) and he was more adorable-cute than hot and hunky.
Fast forward nearly fifteen years and Efron has made a name for himself in Hollywood. He’s starred in blockbusters like 17 Again and the Baywatch remake. Most recently, he went back to his movie-musical roots in smash hit The Greatest Showman. You could say that his career is soarin’… Flyin’… Okay, I’ll stop now.
15. Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez)
Alongside her love interest/former actual boyfriend Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens is the second HSM cast member who’s gone on to become an actual star. Despite her career being threatened by a nude photo scandal that clashed with her wholesome image, Hudgens has had a steady stream of major roles over the years. She memorably portrayed Rizzo in the televised production of Grease: Live. Hudgens gained acclaim for a powerful singing and acting performance given just a day after her father passed away from cancer. Hudgens will next be seen in the upcoming rom-com Second Act alongside Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini.
14. Elijah ‘Dutch’ Whitlock (The Skater Dude who played the cello)
Although Elijah ‘Dutch’ Whitlock had a minor role in only the first High School Musical movie, his moment in the limelight was a memorable one. He portrayed the skater dude who declares that he plays the cello mid-“Stick to the Status Quo.” It was a hilarious and wholesome moment. Unfortunately, things went pretty swiftly downhill for Whitlock after his brief stint in the HSM universe. His life is anything but wholesome now! He was arrested back in 2008 for trying to rob a pizza restaurant at gunpoint. Yup, really. He was charged with aggravated robbery, and nobody has really heard from him since. Oh dear.
13. Matt Prokop (Jimmie Zara)
Matt Prokop is another ex-HSM star who’s done some pretty questionable stuff since leaving the franchise. While his acting career hasn’t produced much of note, his personal life has seen him hit the headlines. Prokop was in a relationship with Modern Family actress Sarah Hyland for five years, beginning in 2008. However, things ended pretty sourly when it emerged that Prokop had allegedly been abusive towards his now-ex. Hyland actually ended up filing a restraining order against Prokop, who apparently threatened to set fire to the actress’s house. He’s since been through rehab and has kept a pretty low profile in the past few years. His life is a far cry from his innocent HSM years.
12. Justin Martin (Donnie Dion)
Turns out Elliot Whitlock isn’t the only ex-High School Musical star to serve jail time! Justin Martin portrayed Chad’s protégée Donnie Dion in the third HSM movie and seemed like such a sweet and innocent kid at the time. His acting career seemed to be going well: the young star had even portrayed Denzel Washington’s son in the Oscar-nominated movie Flight. Unfortunately, by the age of 22, Martin had racked up no less than five gun charges. He was allegedly involved in a gunfight in Boston in which he pointed a pistol at police officers. Martin was sentenced to 18 months in jail back in mid-2016 and is presumably still serving his time.
11. Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans)
Even though Sharpay Evans was supposed to be the antagonist of the High School Musical trilogy, you couldn’t help but secretly love her. She was just so extra! Every tween girl related to her drama and wished they could achieve her glam levels. Actress Ashley Tisdale did well thanks to her stellar performance as the ambitious teen, even getting her own spin-off movie, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.
Since leaving the HSM franchise behind, Tisdale has done a lot of voice acting work. She portrayed Candace Flynn in Phineas and Ferb for almost a decade and has had cameos in American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. Let’s not forget Tisdale’s live-action work, though. Who can forget her role as Maddie in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody? That was such a great show, man. Cue major 2000s nostalgia. Mor recently, she had a guest role on Freeform’s Young & Hungry and a main role on TBS’ Clipped.
10. Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans)
Just like his on-screen twin Ashley Tisdale, Ryan Evans actor Lucas Grabeel has ventured into the world of voice acting in his post-High School Musical career. He’s had lead roles in kids’ shows like DreamWorks Dragons, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, and Disney’s Elena of Avalor. Grabeel has also founded his own production company, 14341 Productions, and makes short films when he’s not busy acting.
Despite his clearly very busy working life, Grabeel still makes time to remember his humble HSM beginnings. He’s a regular on the conventions circuit and frequently discusses his time as a Wildcat. Fun fact: Grabeel is also an ordained minister and recently wed two of his best friends. What a sweetheart!
9. Bart Johnson (Coach Bolton)
Troy Bolton’s pushy but good-hearted basketball coach dad was portrayed by frequent character actor Bart Johnson. Since his days yelling across a fake basketball court, Johnson has got up to a fair bit. For one, he’s still acting. He’s recently made a guest appearance in NCIS, crime show goals! Johnson also released an online documentary, 6 Bucks and a Bottle of Water, chronicling himself and his brothers hitchhiking from Los Angeles to Mexico. However, Johnson has also carved out a career outside of the entertainment business. He owns a B&B; in Midway, Utah, appropriately named the Johnson Mill Bed and Breakfast. The resort was once named one of the top four most romantic sites of its kind in the whole of the US. It sounds pretty dreamy!
8. Alyson Reed (Ms. Darbus)
Alyson Reed won the hearts of young High School Musical fans thanks to her role as sassy drama teacher Ms. Darbus. She was already a pretty established actress prior to joining the Disney Channel circle and has gone on to star in some pretty amazing shows since the movie franchise concluded. Since HSM 3 was released in 2008, Reed has guest starred in Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, and Grey’s Anatomy. That’s quite a lineup! She also had a recurring role in Modern Family for two episodes in its fifth and sixth seasons. Reed’s next role is her most impressive yet: she’ll be starring in upcoming sci-fi movie Ad Astra alongside Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. From High School Musical to a Hollywood blockbuster –not bad!
7. Olesya Rulin (Kelsi Nielsen)
Olesya Rulin may have portrayed plain-Jane nerd Kelsi Nielsen in the High School Musical series, but she’s had something of a glow-up in the past few years. The half-American, half-Russian actress is now blonde and most definitely beautiful! Career-wise, she’s seen moderate success in her post-HSM career. Rulin recently portrayed Meg Griffin’s Russian doppelganger in Family Guy and has had guest spots in numerous other hit shows. She’s now a prominent Instagram model and occasionally dabbles in the world of poetry. Adorably, Rulin is still BFFs with HSM co-star Monique Coleman. Their friendship is frankly goals, with the two women publicly supporting each other at every turn. Female friendship is just the best!
6. Kaycee Stroh (Martha Cox)
If you can’t quite remember which High School Musical character Kaycee Stroh portrayed, I’ll give you a clue. She liked to pop and lock and jam and break… That’s right, it was hip-hop loving geek Martha. In reality, Stroh has shied away from a career in breakdancing and has instead stuck to acting. She most recently appeared in animated Christmas movie Holly, Jingles, and Clyde, and notably completed a stint on Celebrity Fit Club. Most of Stroh’s time seems to be devoted to both motherhood and philanthropic work. The actress is an advocate for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has also raised money for United Cerebral Palsy. Good for her! With two daughters under the age of five, Stroh probably manages to keep pretty busy.
5. Chris Warren Jr. (Zeke Baylor)
Remember Zeke, the basketball player who just wanted to share his delicious crème brûlée with the world? He was such a sweetheart and deserved all of the credit that the High School Musical world gave him. These days, Zeke actor Chris Warren Jr. has blossomed from an awkward, baking-loving teen into a moderately successful small-fry actor. His roles haven’t exactly changed the world, but we’re sure that they pay the bills at least. One black mark against him is the fact that he starred in the simply diabolical movie Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel. Dude… Why? Things have got better in recent years: Warren recently played the lead in rom-com (Romance) In the Digital Age and had a brief stint in ABC Family drama The Fosters. The question is, did he ever make that perfect crème brûlée? Answers on a postcard, please.
4. Ryne Sanborn (Jason Cross)
Jason Cross was one of the background basketball players in all three High School Musical movies. He’s a bit goofy, slightly scatter-brained, and mostly kinda forgettable. In contrast, his actor, Ryne Sanborn, has had a pretty interesting time since the movies wrapped. For one, he’s a former pro ice hockey player, playing for the Salt Lake Outliers. In 2008, Sanborn officially retired from acting to pursue a career in architecture, gaining a degree from the University of Utah. However, he’s most recently began work as a manager for American Express. Sanborn seems happy enough to keep out of the limelight for good. Fair enough – it’s not for everyone for sure!
3. Corbin Bleu (Chad Danforth)
Real talk: we all had a bit of a crush on Corbin Bleu when we were tweens. He was just so peppy and adorable! Not to mention he could bust a few moves, a skill he’s only refined over the past few years. Any Dancing With The Stars fans out there will know exactly what I’m talking about! Bleu took part in the show back in 2013, finishing as runner-up behind Glee star Amber Riley. He also made a reappearance in the show’s most recent season, performing in a memorable trio Salsa with Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold. Basically, the entirety of Chad’s song “I Don’t Dance” in HSM2 was a total lie.
Aside from dancing up a storm, Bleu has had a successful acting career in recent years. He’s starred in numerous Broadway musicals including In The Heights, Hairspray, and Mamma Mia. He’ll also be portraying Ancient Roman love poet Ovid in upcoming biopic Ovi and The Art of Love. Swoon!
2. Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie)
Out of the six main High School Musical actors, Monique Coleman has had the most low-key career since the franchise ended. That’s not to say Coleman has been unsuccessful: she’s had a ton of roles in small TV shows and short films. She played the lead in the short-lived sitcom Here We Go Again and recently took on a starring role in popular web series Guidance. Just like Corbin Bleu, Coleman represented the HSM cast on Dancing With the Stars, finishing fourth all the way back in season three. Outside of her acting career, Coleman has completed a lot of philanthropic work: back in 2010, she was made a UN Youth Champion at the organization’s New York headquarters. You can’t get much more impressive than that!
1. Jemma McKenzie-Brown (Tiara Gold)
British actress Jemma McKenzie-Brown showed up in High School Musical 3: Senior Year as Sharpay’s protégé Tiara Gold. Yep, that was the character’s actual name. At the time, McKenzie-Brown was a 14-year-old aspiring actress who’d just got her big Hollywood break. However, she clearly decided that the acting life wasn’t for her. HSM3 was McKenzie-Brown’s last major acting credit, and only her third in total. Instead of the world of screen and stage, she’s pursued a career in the world of fitness. McKenzie-Brown is a personal trainer and fitness instructor in London, although she occasionally dabbles in live music too. She’s basically fitness goals and has an amazing sense of style to boot. Warning: her Instagram will make you incredibly envious.