Seven months after Naya Rivera’s tragic death, “Step Up” has found a new leading lady.
Producers of the YouTube-turned-Starz drama announced this week that Christina Milian will take over the role of Collette, which Rivera originated, on the show’s upcoming third season. Though no release date has been set, filming on the new episodes began last month.
“I know I have massive shoes to fill. Naya was incredible,” Milian, whose credits include “Family Guy” and the Netflix romance “Falling Inn Love,” said. “I hope to honor Naya, her family, friends and fans with a great performance.”
Actor and singer Ne-Yo shared similar sentiments in a Monday tweet announcing Milian’s casting.
“Christina has big shoes to fill and she knows it, which speaks to her poise and respect as a person and an artist,” he said. “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.”
Loosely based on the dance movie franchise of the same name, “Step Up” debuted on YouTube Red as “Step Up: High Water” in 2018. Last year, it was announced that a 10-episode third season had been picked up by Starz simply as “Step Up.”
Season 3 will focus on Sage Odom (played by Ne-Yo), the founder of Atlanta’s High Water Performing Arts School, and Collette (Milian), his partner at High Water and in life, according to press notes.
“Step Up” was due to be Rivera’s first major television role since her breakthrough performance as Santana Lopez on “Glee.” The 33-year-old actor died last July in an accidental drowning.
On Monday, series creator Holly Sorensen said she and the rest of the “Step Up” creative team had decided to recast the role of Colette only after discussions with both Rivera’s family and the show’s cast.
“Naya’s death was a terrible loss to our world that we will, frankly, never stop mourning,” she said in a statement cited by The Hollywood Reporter. “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,” she added, “and we are so happy she has joined our family.”
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter