Starz’s dance drama Step Up is moving forward after the death of Naya Rivera with Christina Milian stepping in as the show’s new star. The decision comes after months of careful consideration as to how to proceed with the series in the wake of Naya’s passing, with Lionsgate TV consulting with Rivera’s family to determine the best possible option. With the blessing of the family, Milian will now play the role of Collette Jones, the part played by Rivera during the show’s first two seasons.
“Naya’s death was a terrible loss to our world that we will, frankly, never stop mourning,” Step Up series creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen said in a statement. “It was almost impossible to consider there could be someone so graceful and loving who could both help us honor our loss, while also bringing a deep reservoir of talent to our show, in so many areas. Christina Milian is an exceptional human and a dazzling performer and we are so happy she has joined our family.”
Ne-Yo, who plays Sage Odom on the show, also said: “There is no replacing Naya. Let’s get that straight. Her spirit lives on in our memories and every part of what this show is and will be. Christina has big shoes to fill and she knows it, which speaks to her poise and respect as a person and an artist. I’m more than certain of her ability to bring an energy and light to this character that Naya’s fans as well as the rest of the world will love. We’ve welcomed Christina with absolute open arms and have rallied around her with love and support. I’m excited and can’t wait for the world to see this!”
For her part, Christina Milian added, “I am so excited to join the Step Up family. I know I have massive shoes to fill. Naya was incredible. I hope to honor Naya, her family, friends and fans with a great performance.”
Though she was working on Step Up at the time of her passing, Naya Rivera is also very well known for her starring role on the Fox series Glee. In July, Rivera’s four-year-old son was discovered alone on a rented boat at Lake Piru near Santa Clarita, California. The Glee star’s body was later recovered from the lake, and it was determined that she had likely drowned while saving her son’s life. She was just 33 years old at the time of her passing, and her ex-husband has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit because of the incident on behalf of their son.
Based on the movie of the same name, Step Up initially debuted on YouTube before moving to Starz in May. The series follows the students and faculty of the Atlanta performing arts school High Water, and along with Ne-Yo and Rivera, the series stars Petrice Jones, Faizon Love, Marcus Mitchell, Jade Chynoweth, Carlito Olivero, Terrence Green, Eric Graise, and Kendra Oyesanya.
Production on season 3 of Step Up has started in Atlanta. It’s not yet clear when the new episodes will arrive on Starz. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.