Warning: Spoilers ahead. It’s confirmed! Disney+ announced in September 2021 that High School Musical: The Musical: The Series would officially get another season, and Olivia Rodrigo is coming back.
The songstress was named as TIME Magazine’s Entertainer of the Year in December 2021, and the magazine revealed that Olivia would be headed back to the HSMTMTS set in early 2022. Prior to the announcement, some fans of the spinoff series wondered if she would return as Nini following her widespread success. It’s no secret that season 2 of HSMTMTS coincidentally paralleled the former Disney Channel starlet’s whirlwind rise to fame. While Olivia released her debut record months after releasing her first-ever solo single, “Drivers License,” in January 2021, her character, Nini, was also signing her first record deal.
“I was very cognizant that a lot of where the attention went in season 2 was literally like, how do we keep the show on track amid COVID?” showrunner Tim Federle told Entertainment Weekly in July 2021. “All that other stuff in the wings — I don’t want to call it noise — but everything happening in people’s real lives was kind of dwarfed by protocols and COVID testing and rewrites to accommodate safety and cutting certain scenes because all of a sudden somebody was knocked out of something. So, I did not have a huge amount of back-and-forth with Olivia about those parallels, but we all felt it and also celebrated it.”
In the second season finale, Gina (played by Sofia Wylie) connects Nini with her music producer brother Jamie (played by Jordan Fisher).
“I hope if we get a next season that we can explore a really original path for Nini that doesn’t just feel ripped from the headlines, both for the actor’s sake and for the audience,” Tim also told the publication. “But I’d also love to see those stories impact Gina, because Sofia Wylie is so extraordinary, and rather than always centering the story on Nini’s journey, we should give Gina some love too.”
Going forward, the executive producer also told the publication, that he had hoped to plan more on Nini’s career in the wake of her heartbreaking split with Ricky (played by Joshua Bassett).
“If I get to season 3 or beyond, there are a lot of stories I would still like to tell,” he explained. “For now, Nini is definitely on her own journey, and I think Ricky reads the room well enough to finally understand that this is not the moment to keep trying to explore that.”
Scroll through our gallery to see what else we know about Olivia’s role in the HSMTMTS third season.
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