Nini’s goodbye? Since her rise to superstardom, fans have wanted to know: Is Olivia Rodrigo leaving HSMTMTS? Rodrigo has starred as Nini Salazar-Roberts in three seasons of Disney Plus’ High School Musical: The Musical The Series, a TV spinoff of the 2006 Disney Channel original movie, High School Musical, and its two sequels.
Rodrigo starred as a series regular for the first two seasons of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series before stepping down in a recurring role for its most recent third season. News of her reduced role came after a whirlwind year for Rodrigo, whose first album, Sour, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in May 2021. The album also included Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits like “Deja Vu” and “Traitor,” as well as “Drivers License” and “Good 4 U,” both of which peaked at number one. Rodrigo also won three Grammys at the 64th annual Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance. She also embarked on her sold-out Sour Tour in April 2022.
In an interview with GQ in 2021, Rodrigo revealed that she told a music producer not to watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series because she wanted to be taken “seriously” as an artist.“ I’ve always just wanted to be taken seriously as a singer-songwriter — not that being an actor takes away from that at all. I wanted him to know me for me and not the side character that I was playing. I also just get really self-conscious about stuff like that, on a human level. I hate it when my friends listen to my songs or watch anything related,” Rodrigo said.
As one of the most popular musicians in the world at the moment, it’s understandable why fans who first knew Rodrigo as Nini from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series want to know if she’ll be back after season 3. So…is Olivia Rodrigo leaving HSMTMTS? Read on for what we know about Rodrigo’s future on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and whether season 3 could be her last.
Is Olivia Rodrigo leaving HSMTMTS?
Is Olivia Rodrigo leaving HSMTMTS? The answer is unclear but it seems to be yes. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2022, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series creator Tim Federle serves as Rodrigo’s and Nina’s “sendoff” in the series. “I think she’s ready to explore the world outside the halls of East High,” he said. “And Olivia herself was having such a monumental explosion in the music industry that it felt like the right thing to, frankly, work with Olivia to say, ‘How do we get you out there into the world with us taking a little bit more of a backseat?’ Which we were all proud to do to support her.”
He continued, “And so this season it’s about trying to give her character a proper sendoff while also leaving room for other characters to really step into the fray and step into the spotlight. And personally, it’s a joy to see Olivia’s music explode in such a big way. It was so fun to have her back and reminisce on the beginning.”
That said, Federle also told E! News that he doesn’t know High School Musical: The Musical: The Series looks like beyond season 3 so it’s hard to say if Rodrigo will be in future seasons. “I go one season at a time these days,” he said. “Disney picked up season four faster than I think they’ve picked up anything. We hadn’t even aired season three.” He continued, “I haven’t quite gotten to that conversation yet. Anyone with an Internet connection knows that Olivia has had a really big year and she deserves it. I have a feeling, if I were her, I’d want to explore the opportunities in this music industry that has embraced her in such a big way.”
Federle also told Entertainment Weekly that he knew early on in filming High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 3 that Rodrigo would have a recurring role due to her Sour Tour. “Well, the reality was, she had this album that did pretty well. Not sure if you’ve heard of it, it’s called Sour,” he joked. “And the world was clamoring for [her] tour. From a pure logistical standpoint, the idea of Olivia doing the entire season and doing her tour was immediately looking impossible. But she was and is such an important part of the DNA of the show that it also didn’t feel right to not give an explanation for where the character of Nini went.”
He also explained how the decision for Sofia Wylie, who plays Gina Porter, to step up as the lead of the series came to be. “That was thing one: how do you make both things work, schedule-wise? And then thing two is, Olivia is amazing, but I really think this whole cast is amazing,” he said. “Sofia Wylie holds the center of the frame and the center of so many stories with so much wit and wisdom and just wicked talent that we were all really excited to elevate her and allow her to take that central role — with everything that comes with that, the drama, the comedy, the songs, the dancing, the things that only Sofia can do. I guess it’s a little bit like a wedding where it’s like, ‘We’re not losing a daughter, we’re gaining a leading lady.’ That’s how this season felt.”
Federle also told Entertainment Weekly that he wanted Rodrigo and Nini’s exit from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to be organic like real-life friends who grow apart. “There’s a couple of theater kid friends I’m still on a group chat with from my high school. But then there’s also a lot of people who were part of that inner circle who we all just lost touch with. They went off and they lived their lives and we all hope everyone’s happy,” he said. “I think Nini represents a character who is really close and loved and loves these other characters, but the reality is life happens and people get pulled in other directions. There’s a reality to that that’s true about the young person’s experience.”
As for if Rodrigo could come back, Federle told Entertainment Weekly that he wants High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to be like Grey’s Anatomy, where characters return even 10 seasons later. “It’s so funny, we are early enough in the season 4 writers’ room that I’d be lying if I told you I had an exactly right answer for that,” he said. “I would never say never to Olivia, and I would never use the word “last,” because I hope the show goes on and on and on and we get like a [Grey’s Anatomy,] ‘Patrick Dempsey on the beach with Ellen Pompeo’ moment 17 seasons later. But yeah, I think it’s probably a fairly safe bet to say that, for now, we have so many cast members who we love and who we’re serving, that I think there’s no immediate plans for Nini to be a huge part of the show going forward. But the world has a way of surprising me and I never say never.”
Federle also confirmed that his plan for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series also changed dramatically after Rodrigo became a massive pop star. “It’s like, season 1, we were making a completely different show, but that’s OK. Any show that’s about the power of music — it’s so corny to say this, but this is me — and the way that making music with people you love can change your life and change the world, for this to have occurred, for Olivia, all I can do is sit back and be like, ‘If the worst thing that ever happened to me is that the star of my show became the biggest pop star in the world and had to chase that, then that’s a pretty damn good bad thing to happen to me,’” he said. “I’m so proud of her. I joked when I first pitched the series to Disney that I had many, many seasons in my head and I did, and I still do. In the streaming era, when friends of mine with amazing shows get canceled after one or two seasons, the honest, honest answer is that everything is gravy at this point.”
As for what Rodrigo has said, she told The Guardian in 2021 that she planned to commit to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series at the time for at least two more years. She also discussed the struggle of balancing acting and music. “I think it’s really hard to split time between the two and there are very few artists who do that efficiently, because acting is based on being a good liar and presenting a version of yourself that’s believable, and being a songwriter is the complete opposite. It’s like, here are all of my deepest, darkest secrets and I want you to know me so personally,” she said.
High School Musical: The Musical The Series is available to stream on Disney Plus. Here’s how to watch it for free.
Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.