The Cast Of “Glee” Paid Tribute To Naya Rivera

July 14, 2020 / Posted by:

Yesterday, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub confirmed the awful, heartbreaking news that the body that was recovered in Lake Piru after a 5-day search was that of 33-year-old Naya Rivera. Naya’s biggest on-screen credit was arguably the role of Santana in Glee. Much like Mercedes, Santana could have easily carried 100% of her songs without the help of any New Directions backup, but Glee was an ensemble show, which is why everyone usually came together to belt out their emotions through song. Many of Naya’s former cast members have channeled that same ensemble energy, by spilling their feelings online together about Naya’s passing. Yes, even Glee’s most hated former cast member, Lea Michele.

The tributes and messages began pouring in yesterday from former students and teachers of the fictional William McKinley High School. Chris Colfer, who played Kurt, called Naya fearless and said it was impossible to summarize their decade-long friendship.

Kevin McHale, aka Artie, eulogized her with the kind of nicknames that really made me wish Naya was around to explain how she got them. Three Xs on Snixxx? There’s definitely a story there for sure. He also retweeted a video that was posted by a fan, showing Naya and Cory Monteith being super friendly while signing a mountain of autographs and posing for pictures.

Amber Riley (the aforementioned Mercedes) posted a video of Naya with her 4-year-old son Josey, and called her, “My favorite duet partner.”

Darren Criss (Blaine) spoke about how funny Naya was, while Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang) reiterated what many have said, by falling Naya a “force.”

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There are no words and yet so many things I want to say, I don't believe I'll ever be able to articulate exactly what I feel but… Naya, you were a ⚡️ force and everyone who got to be around you knew it and felt the light and joy you exuded when you walked into a room. You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors. I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you. I can not believe I took for granted that you'd always be here. Our friendship went in waves as life happens and we grow, so I will not look back and regret but know I love you and promise to help the legacy of your talent, humor, light and loyalty live on. You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday. I miss you already.

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Jane Lynch, Glee’s Sue Sylvester, delivered a short and sweet tweet, which was followed up with a story from Jane’s niece Megan, who Naya befriended when Megan was an assistant on Glee. There was also a tweet from Alex Newell (Unique Adams), and 5-episode Glee star Adam Lambert. Harry Shum Jr. (Mike Chang) posted a lengthy note to Twitter about how much he’ll miss Naya.

Becca Tobin (who played Kitty Wilde in seasons 4 through 6), also mentioned how funny Naya was, and praised her for being one of the most beloved and welcoming members of the cast. Lauren Potter (Becky Jackson) posted a picture of herself, Naya, and Naya’s close friend Heather Morris. Melissa Benoist (Marley Rose) also spoke about how kind Naya was. Much like Jenna Ushkowitz, Samantha Ware (Jane Hayward) called Naya a force, adding that she wished she could find “better words.”

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Naya was insanely talented, breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, but the legacy she left behind for me is her kindness. I joined the cast of Glee in the third season and as the newcomer, I was intimidated and terrified. The cast was already such a tight-knit group who had been working incredibly hard together for over three years to make it a hit show and I never expected any of them to have time for me. To my surprise, Naya, one of the most beloved by the rest of the cast (and the entire world), showed me instant warmth and kindness. She invited me to parties and gatherings and was always there to give advice. She was a superstar who had nothing to gain from being kind to the new girl, but she was and that changed this new girl’s entire experience on that show. I will forever be grateful to that beautiful human. My heart goes out to her family and her sweet boy. ❤️

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She has not left my mind this last week. It’s difficult to find words. There was an undeniable beauty that she radiated inside and out, and I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got to witness that up close even for the short period of time that I did. I was so intimidated by her, yet she had a way of disarming that just made you want to be around her, hear what she had to say (because it would undoubtedly be the sharpest and most real thing you would hear all day). She was kind and open to me when she didn’t have to be, when I was a naive, clueless and insecure newcomer. Bravely authentic, genuinely kind, incredibly talented and deeply loved by so many. Thinking of her family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Naya.

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Demi Lovato, who played Santana’s girlfriend Dani on the 5th season of Glee, acknowledged Naya’s contribution to LGBTQ+ representation on television (part of Santana’s journey on Glee was her realization that she was a lesbian).

There’s been no tribute from Naya’s fellow Cheerio Dianna Agron, but that’s probably because she’s not terribly active on social media. UPDATE: She just posted this.

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⁣⁣ Naya and I fell into stride with such ease, she was my first friend and ally on our show. In the pilot, our characters came and went with such swiftness. Our enthusiasm brimmed with all of the unknown. We tried to grasp what the other cast members must be feeling as we were working in such separate manners. We dared to dream. What if this show worked? Wouldn’t that be something? Something was brimming, it was palpable. And thank god it worked. Naya’s magnetic talent was going to be unleashed, we just didn’t know it yet. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I’ve been revisiting Naya’s performances on our show and it has brought me great joy. To work with her was a gift. There was a great deal to absorb – her work ethic, her fearlessness, her talent – supreme. Naya had a laugh that would envelop you and hold you captive. She was mesmerizing. That twinkle in her eye, her luminous smile. Naya lead with truth, humor, wit. I loved her for all of these reasons. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I loved her sense of curiosity and wanderlust. I was lucky enough to be her travel partner for some of my most favorite adventures. As I write this, I’m grinning with swelling memories of a spontenaous 36 hour excursion – one might even say diversion – to Paris. With Naya, everything was possible and would often simply unfold before us, almost magically.⁣⁣ On this particular jaunt, within ten minutes of checking into our hotel, we found ourselves strolling the halls of L'École des Beaux-Arts, sipping wine from paper cups with students showcasing their latest work. It was fantastic. We were united in our commitment to discovery. And there was always a list of cleverly curated ideas in Naya’s back pocket, should we need it. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I cannot make sense of this tremendous loss. I will hold onto her and these memories for the rest of time, alongside our Glee family. Please hold space for her, her family, her beautiful boy. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In absolute, loving memory.

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Nothing from Lord Tubbington yet, but I have a feeling he’d have plenty of lovely things to say, just as soon as he learns how to figure out the meow-to-text function on his phone.

And finally, People magazine says that Lea Michele – aka Rachel Berry – paid tribute by posting some never before seen photos of Naya and the late Cory Monteith to her Instagram Stories. Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of Cory’s death, so it was fitting that she would memorialize both.

That was a very nice, thoughtful, and respectful tribute. And it also serves to help Lea rehabilitate those rumors that she and Naya fully hated each other, and that Lea was the second coming of Satan on set. I mean, yes, Lea was a terror. But she did just post a picture of Naya in great lighting where she looks absolutely gorgeous, and a soulless demon would never be so generous.


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