Christina Milian replaces Naya Rivera in Step Up series, hopes to 'honor' late star
Christina Milian is stepping into some very big shoes.
Milian will play the role of Collette, which Rivera originated on the Step Up program upon its YouTube debut. In the run-up to the revamped program's new season premiere, Starz will air the first two seasons beginning March 5 across all of its platforms, as well as airing Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on the channel.
Ne-Yo is slated to return to the series in his co-starring role of Sage Odom, in addition to other returning regulars Faizon Love, Jade Chynoweth, Carlito Olivero, Terrence Green, Eric Graise, and Kendra Oyesanya, while Tricia Helfer has joined the roster for the new episodes.
"I am so excited to join the Step Up family," Milian said in a press release. "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."
Creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen added that Rivera's death last summer was a "terrible loss to our world," and that 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."
Based on Lionsgate's $600 million-grossing Step Up film series, the TV show follows Ne-Yo's Sage as the founder of Atlanta's High Water Performing Art School. Milian's Collette — Sage's romantic and professional partner — helped nourish his vision from the ground up, though a dark secret threatens to bring everything they've worked for crashing down.
"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," Ne-Yo said. "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!"
The new season of Step Up — additionally produced by Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, and Step Up movie stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan —began filming in Atlanta in early February. A premiere date has yet to be announced.