New YouTube Red “Step Up” series shows gay teen finding self-acceptance through hip-hop

YouTube/Step Up: High Water

Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum’s hit dance movie is coming back in the form of a brand new, uplifting phase on the small screen.

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The stars of the original 2006 film “Step Up” — which led to a marriage and daughter between Tatum and Dewan — are producing a follow-up series based on their popular dancing franchise. The ten-part series, “Step Up: High Water,” will follow a group of aspiring hip-hop dancers looking to gain success while following their dreams at an Atlanta performing arts school. One of the important topics the show will touch on is acceptance, especially for a young dancer — Tal played by Petrice Jones — coming to grips with his sexuality. For Jones, his character’s struggle resonated with him and in an interview with HuffingtonPost, he shared that his journey can be applauded by anyone looking to overcome an obstacle.

“[It’s] a fight we are all fighting, regardless of our orientation or physical make up,” said Jones to HuffPost. “The truth is, if you’re a good person and you always do right by people, then it’s your right as a human being to be able to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and like the person looking back at you. Period. And as long as you continue to be a good person, nothing and no one can take that away from you.”

Adam Shankman, an executive producer of the show and the choreographer behind “Step Up,” called the character “vulnerable and solid as steel all at once.”

“Having one of the two leading characters in ‘Step Up: High Water’ be not only biracial but also gay and struggling with identity, searching for his place in the world and a sense of purpose, family, and most importantly safety, is likely the most important thing to me about the series,” he told HuffPost. “Dance doesn’t express just what he does. It shows us who he is.”

RELATED: Channing Tatum breaks down exactly how he got Beyoncé to perform onstage with him

“High Water” is YouTube’s first foray into scripted shows and the latest reiteration of the dance franchise, which spawned five feature films. Although the Tatums aren’t set to make an appearance, it will star former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera and singer Ne-Yo.

“Step Up: High Water” premieres Jan. 31 on YouTube Red.

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