Christina Milian is set to assume Naya Rivera’s role in the YouTube-to-Starz Step Up TV series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Rivera had played a starring part, specifically the role of “Collette,” during the first two seasons of the series, which are based on the movies of the same name.
The decision was said to be made after consulting with the family of the late Rivera, who died in a tragic drowning accident last summer at just 33.
“Naya’s death was a terrible loss to our world that we will, frankly, never stop mourning,” said series creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen on Monday. “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.”
Executives were reported to have considered all options on how to deal with the role following Rivera’s untimely death. It was said that the decision to recast her part came due to the show’s highly serialized nature.
Previously the series, which was created by Sorenson and inspired by the Step Up film series, had been on YouTube before transferring to Starz back in May.
In addition to the statement above, Ne-Yo (who plays the character the show revolves around) also put out a statement.
“There is no replacing Naya. Let’s get that straight,” he said. “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 for the third season of the show started up last month in Atlanta. The first two seasons will run as part of a marathon on the network beginning on March 5.
Milian has previous credits for Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Snowglobe, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, among others. She will also star in a yet-to-be-titled Netflix feature from Alicia Keys.
“I am so excited to join the Step Up family,” Milian said. “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.”