After what a source describes as “careful consideration,” Step Up has decided to recast the role of Collette in the wake of original portrayer Naya Rivera‘s tragic death. Actress-singer-DWTS alum Christina Milian will take over the part when the series jumps to Starz for its third season.
“I am so excited to join the Step Up family,” said Milian in a statement. “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.”
Added series creator and EP Holly Sorensen: “Naya’s death was a terrible loss to our world that we will, frankly, never stop mourning. 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.”
A Step Up insider tells TVLine that a wide variety of factors — including the fact that Rivera’s character is so central to the series — went into the decision to recast the role. A source also notes that Rivera’s family gave producers their blessing to bring in a new actress to play Collette.
Step Up: High Water was initially available on YouTube’s subscription service, YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium), but was cancelled after two seasons as the video platform moved away from original programming. Last May, Starz swooped in and rescued the series, which the cabler says will be “re-imagined.” (The first two seasons will be available on Starz’ various platforms, as well as airing Fridays at 8 pm, beginning March 5.)
Milian joins a cast that includes returning series regulars Ne-Yo (Sage Odom), Faizon Love (Uncle Al), Jade Chynoweth (Odalie), Carlito Olivero (Davis), Terrence Green (Rigo), Eric Graise (King), and Kendra Oyesanya (Poppy). As previously announced, Battlestar Galactica vet Tricia Helfer has come aboard as a new series regular.
“There is no replacing Naya — let’s get that straight,” Ne-Yo acknowledged in his own statement. “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!”
Production on Season 3 is currently underway in Atlanta.