Exclusive Interview: Naya Rivera on Step Up: High Water season 2

Naya Rivera and Ne-Yo return for season two of Step Up: HIgh Water, Courtesy of YouTube Premium

Naya Rivera graduated the high school of Glee but still works in the world of music and dance. On YouTube Premium’s Step Up: High Water, Rivera plays Collette Jones, the head of High Water dance academy.

Yes, she still has her job in season two. You may be wondering what happens after she shot East-O (R. Marcus Taylor) in self-defense. Season two deals with that and the High Water dancers training for Sage Odom (Ne-Yo)’s tour.

Rivers spoke with Monsters and Critics about season two of Step Up High Water. You can watch season two today on YouTube Premium.

Monsters & Critics: Collette was not much of a dancing role. Did you push to get more moments to dance in season two?

NR: I think that Collette always in her role, she’s more of an administrator and she runs the school. She’s sort of like a mentor and she’s had her fair share of dance time with her background and so she pulls it out every now and then.

M&C: Were you excited to get more chances in season two?

NR: I was excited to do the numbers that we did. I thought that they were really fun and they were new things that I’d never done before so that’s always exciting.

I did a number with Ne-Yo with this cage that they had built, with these elastic ropes. Jamaica Craft is just amazing at choreographing so she put together this number that involved climbing on it and doing all these different things. It was really fun.

M&C: How did the cage dance challenge you?

NR: Well, I mean, climbing on it alone was challenging. It was very aerial, acrobatic and hanging upside down but it was fun.

M&C: Was that different for Ne-Yo also?

NR: I feel like he’s probably done something that cool on tour.

Ne-Yo IS Sage Odom on Step Up: High Water, Courtesy of YouTube Premium

M&C: My favorite was your moment with Odelie in the chairs when you teach her that sexy is in the eyes. Was that a special moment?

NR: That was hilarious. I haven’t seen anything by the way, so I don’t know what ended up making it but I remember shooting it. It was so funny because I was like oh my goodness, all of my Santana fans are going to love this. It was a good time.

M&C: It’s very sensual mostly sitting in the chair. Was that interesting choreography?

NR: I’ve done something like that before. We did that a little bit in Toxic in Glee. I’m sort of comfortable and familiar with that

M&C: How did you like singing Amazing Grace in the season premiere?

NR: That was so fun. Obviously, I love that song and the arrangement was great. I thought that the context was awesome so I hope that everybody likes it.

M&C: Have you sung that before in your career or life?

NR: I’ve sung it in church before. It’s a classic, so everyone knows that. It was even tougher because it was basically a cappella. I had to go in the studio and record it and do the best that I can. Fingers crossed, I hope it turned out well.

M&C: How much is Colette reeling from having killed East-O?

NR: She is definitely reeling. That’s sort of where we pick up in season two, dealing with and following the aftermath of what happened with the cliffhanger from season one. She’s got to figure all that out.

M&C: Does it weigh on her emotionally?

NR: It does but she’s the type of character who is really good about suppressing emotions and not really showing and being vulnerable. On the inside she’s definitely having a hard time navigating it all.

Sage (Ne-Yo) and Collette (Naya Rivera) are trying to put on a show. Courtesy of YouTube Premium

M&C: How is Colette and Sage’s relationship developing?

NR: In the beginning, it’s getting more complicated. By the end of the season, they sort of turn a page and are back together better than ever. I won’t spoil anything, but nothing stays great forever. Especially not at High Water.

M&C: Do you think they’re a good match for each other?

NR: I do. I think that they really complement each other and I think that they’ve known each other for so long, you know, and they have history. I know that Sage’s character, that’s really important for him because he’s such a megastar and so he has obviously a tough time trusting people and that’s sort of where they bond.

M&C: What was it like filming the big concert at the finale?

NR: It was really fun. We shot in an actual stadium and in an arena, then put it together and put it on its feet as if it was a real tour. I know everybody had a blast dancing and performing. I had a blast watching and it was just really cool.

I had a couple scenes that were backstage and I was just having such flashbacks. All of the dancers have been on tour too with various artists too so they were like, “This is so accurate. This is crazy.” The quick change booths and everything that goes on behind the scenes, they definitely nailed.

Backstage at the season finale of Step Up: High Water, Courtesy of YouTube Premium

M&C: Do you feel like you were where this cast is now when Glee started?

NR: Yeah, a little bit. When I see them rehearsing and doing their numbers, I know the feeling because we’ve done that. I think there is a little bit of that there. Everyone is insanely talented and really good at what they do. They all work really hard and they’re passionate so I think the sky’s the limit for everyone.

M&C: Do you share any of Colette’s business savvy?

NR: I think I do. She’s very organized and I’d say that I’m a pretty organized person.

M&C: She doesn’t take any crap either.

NR: Oh yeah, well definitely she doesn’t do that.

M&C: How does being on season two of Step Up compare to season two of Glee?

NR: Season two of Glee, I’m super excited as I’m always excited but that was especially exciting for me because I had been auditioning for so long and hadn’t gotten a big break yet and didn’t know if I was going to be around. So then to be around and know that I was a part of the cast for sure now was awesome.

Then learning that Step Up: High Water got picked up, I was so excited texting everybody. I’m like, “We’re going back to Atlanta!”

M&C: Have a lot of the Glee fans followed you to Step Up?

NR: Yeah, a lot of them do tune in and watch. For that I’m really grateful. They’re very loyal.

M&C: When you did the opening titles dance, was it choreographed or freestlye?

NR: They’re freestyle. Everyone freestyles in that. They had a different version when I did it in season one. They had a different version for everybody so we all got a different beat. Mine was very Latin inspired so I loved it. I had a great time.

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