It’s a strange feeling to mourn the loss of someone you never knew personally, but looking through Twitter yesterday, it became it became very clear the impact Naya Rivera had on so many people.
The actress and singer, best known for her role as cheerleader Santana Lopez on Fox’s “Glee,” which aired from 2009- 15, was a total staple character. Her acting chops combined with comical one-liners, powerful vocals, and flowing finesse of dancing took her character from being a one-dimensional high school stereotype to powerhouse entertainer.
She was casually cruel in a way that was both terrifying and endearing, solely thanks to Rivera’s ability to bring out her vulnerability by keeping her guard up through her defensiveness. Her confidence was unmatched and honestly she was the “villain” everyone loved. The impact she had portraying Santa Lopez left an everlasting mark in pop culture, she changed queer representation in television – especially for Latinas.
She went from being a closeted high school mean girl to an out and incredibly talented artist and it was beautifully portrayed by Rivera. One of her on screen relationships on the show was guest star Demi Lovato, who thanked Naya for her devotion to her character Santana.
“The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world.”
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RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world. My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.. ❤️🕊
Heather Morris, who portrayed Brittney on “Glee,” shared a sweet message on Instagram thanking fans for their support and reminding them the importance of family.
Dianna Agron, who played Quinn Fabray on Glee wrote a long message to Naya on her Instagram. Agron thanked Naya for being her first friend and ally on Glee.
“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. ”
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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.
Glee star Chris Colfer wrote in his tribute, “How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t.”
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How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be. 💔 Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.
Naya Rivera’s family released a statement expressing their gratitude for the outpouring of love they’ve received, “We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” the statement, released by Rivera’s manager to Deadline, read. “While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister.”
Glee show creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan paid tribute to Naya Rivera with the creation of a college fund for her son Josey Hollis Dorsey.
Part of their collective statement read, “It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what “Brittana” meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time. She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. Naya was more than just an actor on our show—she was our friend.”
Outside of the Glee cast and other celebrities, fans shared their support and love for her. Take a look below to see how fans paid their respects to Naya Rivera.
Netflix have changed the cover photo of Glee to Santana Lopez in honor of Naya Rivera.
Why did this make me cry?
— (The Other) Dani ミ☆ (@DaniJaneCox) July 14, 2020
— Jay ✨ (@jayriquelee) July 14, 2020
naya rivera is the only one allowed to cover valerie so that means no one is allowed to touch this song ever again. it’s her brand. it’d be an injustice #ValerieListeningParty
— cloo ミ☆ (@gimmethecloot) July 14, 2020
My tribute to #NayaRivera 🎨💓
Naya was beautiful, sweet, hilarious and a force of nature. She touched so many lives in so many ways with her talent, her spirit and her kindness. She was a wonderful human being, a thoughtful friend and a great mother.
You’ll be missed sweet Nay💖 pic.twitter.com/HiZ2j5Rtk2
— giulia⚜️ (@youvedonefine) July 14, 2020
Our deepest condolences go out to Naya’s friends, family and co-stars.