Christina Milian replaces the late Naya Rivera in ‘Step Up’


Actress and singer Christina Milian has stepped up to fill the shoes of the late Naya Rivera in Starz’s “Step Up: High Water.”

Starz announced Monday that it has cast Milian as Collette Jones, the role Rivera originated before she died last summer at age 33 of an accidental drowning. Milian will portray Collette in the spinoff series’ upcoming third season, which is set to premiere later this year.

“Naya was incredible,” Milian said in a statement as part of Monday’s casting announcement. “I hope to honor Naya, her family, friends and fans with a great performance.”

“Step Up: High Water,” a 2018 offshoot of the blockbuster “Step Up” film franchise, starred Rivera’s Collette and recording artist Ne-Yo’s Sage Odom as romantically involved business partners who run Atlanta’s prestigious High Water Performing Arts School. The latest season saw Collette contemplate leaving her position as Sage’s manager to pursue her own dreams.

“There is no replacing Naya. Let’s get that straight,” Ne-Yo said in a 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.”

The third season of “Step Up: High Water,” which began production this month in Atlanta, will be the first to debut on Starz after the last two seasons launched on YouTube Red. Starting March 5, seasons 1 and 2 of the drama series are set to air Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Starz.

Before starring in “Step Up: High Water,” Rivera appeared in a number of TV programs dating to the early 1990s. She was best known for her groundbreaking turn as cheerleader Santana Lopez in the hit musical series “Glee,” which ran for six seasons from 2009 to 2015.

Milian, 39, also has racked up several TV credits and recently appeared in the short-lived Netflix series “Soundtrack,” alongside Jenna Dewan, who starred opposite ex-husband Channing Tatum in the first “Step Up” film.

Both Dewan and Tatum are executive producers on the third season of “Step Up: High Water.”

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

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