She was right: History will absolve Sharpay, like it or not


A passion-filled tweet early last week said what many of us have been thinking for years: “Troy and Gabriela??? Boring and basic. Sharpay and Ryan??? SPARKLY AND FABULOUS.”

Sharpay Evans, the antagonist of the movie franchise “High School Musical,” was all the rage last week. As a clip of Sharpay and her brother Ryan resurfaced on Twitter, users and Sharpay superfans were quick to use it as an opportunity to reflect on her role in the movie more than a decade later. 

The consensus seemed to be that in 2019 the people choose the entitled, rich, mean girl over the nice, friendly and cute good girl. But, can we blame them?

While I vividly remember girls fighting over who would get to play Gabriella during recess, I have grown into someone who would gawk at the idea of resembling that character in any way in real life. 

Like Ashley Tisdale, who played Sharpay in the movie, said: “Sharpay was chasing her dream, Troy and Gabriella were chasing each other.”

In retrospect, we see that chasing a boy or girl gets you far fewer places than chasing a dream. Additionally, we also see that Sharpay was snubbed.  

Sharpay and Ryan gave their all at the audition for the school musical only for the parts to be given to Troy and Gabriella who were late to auditions and got the part because of their chemistry, not their star qualities. 

While Sharpay’s character was over the top and exaggerated, isn't that what theater is all about? Could you imagine how boring musicals would be if they weren't over the top? 

Sharpay was often the butt of jokes, as she was seen as too much of a diva. In actuality, she was the whole package. She was talented, creative and ambitious, but was overshadowed by the idea that being “nice” trumps being talented. While this might reign true in relationships, in theater and in your professional career, this is pretty much irrelevant. 

You can be as sweet as pie, but if you’re late to work and don’t come prepared, be wary of condescending supervisors, angry co-workers and above all, not being in the picking for a promotion.  

Now that we’re older, we know that the plain Jane — Gabriella — rarely gets what she wants. There are consequences to all actions, and you can’t have it all, Jane. You can’t be late, come unprepared, get the part and expect to not upset a few people. 

Additionally, letting your significant other, or anybody else, be the voice that speaks up for you, guides you and your dreams, doesn't always work out. 

Sharpay, while catty and mean, was no plain Jane. Sharpay is (to an extent) a role model for 20-somethings who are just starting out in their careers. We should yearn to stand out, be ambitious, driven and give 110%. And I can only imagine that we would also be upset if we knew we were more qualified for a position but it was instead given to someone less qualified and unprepared. 

As we reflect years later, we look at Sharpay’s character with a little more nuance and understanding and see Troy and Gabriella as nothing more than boring and insignificant. 

Historically, women who refuse to be plain Janes and instead strive for a life full of ambition, marching to the beat of their own drum, are often criticized. This character trait, which is so necessary in regard to actualizing one’s dreams and changing industries, is often dubbed as wrong, loud and vicious. 

We’re older now and hopefully getting a little wiser, which means at this point we’ve met some Gabriella types and some Sharpays. So think about it: Who is unforgettable, the Gabriellas or the Sharpays?


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