'Step Up': Starz Series Decides To Recast Naya Rivera's Lead Role With Christina Milian In Season 3
Photo Credit: S & A

'Step Up': Starz Series Decides To Recast Naya Rivera's Lead Role With Christina Milian In Season 3

Shadow and Act has learned that Starz’s Step Up series (which aired its first two seasons on YouTube Red) has decided to recast the late Naya Rivera’s lead role of Colette with Christina Milian.

Rivera led the show alongside Ne-Yo in its first two seasons and was set to return for its third season on Starz before her death. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Sources say executives at Starz, Lionsgate and producers on Step Up considered all their options when it came to ways with which the series could move forward following Rivera’s tragic death last summer. Considering the highly serialized nature of Step Up, a decision was made — along with the cast, producers and Naya’s family — to recast her role.”

In addition to Milian, Ne-Yo returns in his co-starring role as Sage Odom, alongside series regulars Faizon Love (“Uncle Al”), Jade Chynoweth (“Odalie”), Carlito Olivero (“Davis”), Terrence Green (“Rigo”), Eric Graise (“King”), and Kendra Oyesanya (“Poppy”) and previously announced new Tricia Helfer (“Erin”)

“I am so excited to join the ‘Step Up’ family,” said Milian. “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.”

“Naya’s death was a terrible loss to our world that we will, frankly, never stop mourning,” added creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen. “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 is an exceptional human and a dazzling performer and we are so happy she has joined our family.”

The description: Inspired by the Step Up Lionsgate film franchise that grossed over $600 million at the worldwide box office, the original series centers on Sage Odom (Ne-Yo) as the legendary founder of Atlanta’s famed High Water Performing Art School. Collette is the Queen of High Water and Sage Odom’s partner in art, business, and love. Collette built and nurtured Sage’s visionary academy from the ground up. Grinding her way to the top with grit and resourcefulness, Collette earned a new role, manager of Sage Odom and his tour, all this while hiding a dark secret. As this secret comes crashing down on Sage, High Water, and the tour, Collette is tempted by an opportunity to step out of her role as the woman behind the man, to become the powerful woman in front of the man.

“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,” said Ne-Yo. “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!”

Filming on the new season kicked off in Atlanta this month.  Sorenson produces with the producers of the original Step Up films, Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot.

Step Up has been an indelible part of mine and my partner, Jennifer Gibgot’s life for 16 years and never did we think we would feel so much loss as we have with Naya’s passing,” said Shankman. “But speaking as her friend, colleague and forever fan, nothing makes us happier then being able to celebrate the continuation of this story with the extraordinary Christina Milian and the brilliant, boundary-pushing team at Starz. We promise not to disappoint.”

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, who both co-starred in the original Step Up film, are also among the executive producers.

The first two seasons will be available on Starz March 5 and the new season will debut later this year.