Step Up has returned for its third season on STARZ and there is a lot to expect from this season – specifically with Keiynan Lonsdale whose character Tal is back, and he has a lot on his plate.
After a long hiatus, Step Up brings us back to the top-notch artistic incubator – which also includes lots of drama. The new season brings us back to High Water founder and megastar Sage Odom (Ne-Yo) as he is on a downward spiral of murder charges, financial ruin, among other things. His business and romantic (more or less) partner Collette Jones (Christina Milian) struggles to maintain their image as she balances a nationwide tour and stepping out of her role as the woman behind the empire all while carrying a secret that threatens to ruin it all.
Lonsdale joins a cast that includes Terrence Green, Kendra Willis, Carlito Olivero, Jade Chynoweth, and Rebbi Rosie. For Lonsdale, who stepped into the role of Tal after Petrice Jones had to step down after two seasons, told GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos that he is excited to join the new season and return to dancing.
“Dancers are my favorite people and I think Tal is an amazing character,” said Lonsdale. “I really wanted to honor what was done in the first two seasons and embody this young man who’s still at a coming-of-age point in his life; in the transition of taking full ownership of his life and what he stands for in his voice, while also figuring out what he’s capable of by being constantly thrown in the deep end.
He added, “I feel like my life has been a lot of that — getting thrown in the deep end and trying to doggy paddle or swim a little bit… so that is how we find [Tal]: stressful but incredible.”
The new season puts Tal in the position of lead dancer which means there is a lot at stake. Lonsdale also points out that he is wearing many different hats as we see in the first episode of the season where he is the stage manager. He’s also serving as the choreographer and has his hand in many roles of production.
“He’s now dealing with all these different personalities, egos and drama that he can’t just think about the movement — he’s got to think about the entire picture,” Lonsdale explains. “I think it’s all training him to [ask] ‘Who am I as a creative?’ I think this is really a season of empowerment for Tal — true empowerment.”
As a gay person of color playing a gay character of color in the series, Lonsdale has been representing the community in his previous work and he is also set to perform at World Pride 2023 in his home of Sydney, Australia. For Step Up, he hopes that audiences will be able to see themselves represented by Tal but also hopes they see other sides of the character.
“I want them to be able to see the nuances and the layers of him learning to speak up and take ownership,” said Lonsdale. “I think there’s also a lot of bravado around him… that energy that he has to navigate and remain true to who he is and just cut through and figure out the life that he’s gonna have.”
Lonsdale said that what Tal wants may be different to everybody else, but he wants to find joy in and not be in his head as much. “I am excited for people to watch the journey of him [of] quite literally having to step up to the plate… but also to free himself [and] let go.”
New episodes of “Step Up” are available on Sundays on STARZ.