The death of Glee vet Naya Rivera hit Hollywood hard, as the 33-year-old star was widely mourned by her fans and colleagues. Around the time of her passing, Rivera was actively working, with her most notable role being that of Collette Jones on the YouTube Red/Starz original Step Up. In the wake of death, fans have likely wondered how the producers would handle Collette, and it now seems they’ve opted to recast the character with another notable name.
Step Up, formerly known as Step Up: High Water, has cast actress and Grammy-nominated singer Christina Milian to succeed Naya Rivera in the role of Collette Jones. The Starz series is currently in production in Atlanta. Milian has since responded to her casting with a statement in which she praised Rivera and expressed her hope that she can do the role justice:
I am so excited to join the Step Up family. 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.
In a statement, Step Up creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen paid tribute to the late Naya Rivera and discussed what she thinks Christina Milian will bring to the role:
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.
Christina Milian will join an ensemble cast that features stars like singer and dancer Ne-Yo. The entertainer also welcomed Milian to the cast while also paying tribute to Naya Rivera and her contributions to the show:
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. 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!
Naya Rivera died last summer after drowning in California’s Lake Piru. She and her son, Josey, rented a boat to take out on the lake. After both jumped into the water to swim, Rivera helped her son back into the boat before drowning. Josey was later found in the boat alone and, after a five-day search, Rivera’s body was recovered and an intimate funeral was later held.
It may be a bit hard for some Step Up fans to see someone else in Naya Rivera’s role. However, it sounds like the show’s team put quite a bit of thought into the decision to recast, and Christina Milian seems to understand that she’s now been tasked with continuing part of Rivera’s legacy.