'Cheer' Breakout Morgan Simianer Talks About Life After Navarro (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
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Cheer, Netflix’s captivating docuseries about the world of competitive cheerleading, is back with season 2 as the cameras continue to follow members of Navarro College’s elite squad. Among them is season 1 breakout star Morgan Simianer, who returns for her second and final year as a competitor, hoping to once again take home another championship title.
But as season 2 shows, things for Simianer don’t go quite as planned after the coronavirus pandemic forces the NCA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships to cancel the 2020 competition in Daytona Beach, Florida. And what should be a triumphant finish to her collegiate cheerleading career is stripped away from her just weeks before they were set to compete.
“It was very hard for the team because, you know, we worked our whole entire semester leading up to Daytona,” Simianer tells ET. “So, we were right there. We were a couple of weeks out from Daytona. So, it was very hard for the team to process the whole situation and, you know, just being told it was over like that. We didn’t really have much explanation on what was going on. The world didn’t really know what was going on, so everyone worldwide was struggling.”
As a result, Simianer’s time on camera is cut short as the docuseries continues to follow Navarro and its rival, Trinity Valley Community College, picking up where they left off after lockdown and prepare for the 2021 championships.
“For me, personally, I struggled a lot because that was my last time with Navarro. So, you know, dealing with, ‘I’m not going to cheer again, I never really got to compete,’ it was very hard,” Simianer says, adding that she is able to appreciate the brighter side of the whole experience. “I was like, ‘At least I have all the memories and the amazing opportunities and the friendships and the bonds.’ That will last a lifetime. That’s what carried me through.”
When it specifically comes to not returning to compete for another year at Navarro College, Simianer explains that she exceeded the eligibility limit of three years even though one of them was cut short by COVID. “I was, you know, a part of the team from the 2018 season to the 2020 season,” she says, adding that she also graduated and started taking classes at Texas A&M, which also affected her decision. “That’s one of the main reasons for me why I chose not to go back.”
Simianer is not the only star from the first season that audiences get limited time with in season 2. Lexi Brumback also didn’t return after the lockdown. When asked about not getting to spend more time on camera with both athletes, director Greg Whiteley says, “I’m grateful for the time that we had with them again.”
But because this is Navarro, “you have an embarrassment of riches in terms of characters that you can follow,” he continues. “And so, I love Morgan and Lexi and I would love to spend more time with them filming. But there were so many other places to turn that, I'll be honest, I'm not sure we gave much thought to it. That was just the way the nature of the story unfolded and there was a whole batch of new characters to follow.”
Most notably, that includes Maddy Brum, Cassadee Dunlap and Gillian Rupert, who the cameras follow more closely in the latter half of season 2. And Simianer is excited for them to get a moment to shine as well. “I’m super excited for you guys to meet them and love them as much as I do,” she says.
While looking back on her time in front of the camera, Simianer says the one piece of advice she would give herself is “to take one thing at a time because I would just get so overwhelmed with everything.”
A lesson she’s taking advantage of now as she enjoys life in Dallas, Texas, where she has a serious boyfriend and a cat named Louis Boo. “She’s adorable,” the athlete gushes, adding that she’s also focused on building her brand and trying to spend more time with family and friends. “And just seeing what life has in store for me.”