"I hope to honor Naya, her family, friends and fans with a great performance," the singer said

By Jodi Guglielmi
February 08, 2021 03:50 PM
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Christina Milian, Naya Rivera
Credit: Paul Archuleta/Getty; Frederick M. Brown/Getty

The singer and actress will take over the lead role of Collette, originated by the late Rivera, in the upcoming reimagined season of the drama series, Starz announced Monday.

"I am so excited to join the Step Up family," said Milian, 39, 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."

Rivera played Colette for the show's first two seasons before she tragically drowned at age 33 during a boating trip with her young son last July.

Step Up, inspired by the film franchise of the same name, follows Sage Odom (Ne-Yo) as the legendary founder of Atlanta's High Water Performing Art School. Collette is Sage Odom's partner in art, business and love.

"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," said Ne-Yo, 41, in a statement. "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," he continued. "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
Naya Rivera
| Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Rivera's body was found on July 13 in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California — five days after she disappeared during the boat excursion. An autopsy later ruled the cause of death as accidental drowning, and the Glee star was laid to rest on July 24.

Starz had announced a new season of Step Up just over a month before Rivera died. The show begin filming in Atlanta this month.

The network will air the first two seasons of the series, which originally aired on YouTube with Rivera as Collette, beginning March 5 across all platforms. A premiere date for season 3 has not been announced.