Naya Rivera was honored at the 2021 GLAAD Media Awards, More than a dozen of her “Glee” castmates came together to pay tribute to her impact on them.
via: Page Six
Demi Lovato — who had a four-episode arc on the musical dramedy as the girlfriend of Rivera’s character, Santana Lopez — said “losing my friend Naya Rivera” amid an already difficult year was a “particular moment of heartbreak” for her.
“I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’ The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls like I was at the time, and her ambitions and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world. That’s the power of a show like ‘Glee,’” the singer, 28, said.
Following Lovato, “Glee” alums Amber Riley, Jacob Artist, Kevin McHale, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Alex Newell, Vanessa Lengies, Matthew Morrison and Lauren Potter, among others, appeared virtually, as did Heather Morris, who played Santana’s wife, Brittany S. Pierce.
“One loss hit us so incredibly hard when we lost our dear friend Naya Rivera,” Morris, 34, said.
In a touching tribute, the stars recalled special anecdotes about Rivera, who accidentally drowned in July 2020 during a daytime outing to Lake Piru in Southern California with her then-4-year-old son, Josey. Rivera was 33 years old.
“I remember when Naya became a regular cast member. She was a dancer — and I always thought she was cute and she was a great dancer — and then Ryan [Murphy] started giving her lines, and I was like, ‘Wow, this girl is really something else,’” recounted 60-year-old Lynch, who portrayed Sue Sylvester.
Ushkowitz, who played Tina Cohen-Chang, added how Rivera “made everyone laugh, like on-screen and off, but the real win was if you made her laugh because you know you actually did something really funny.”
Ushkowitz, 34, said Rivera’s “best role” was being a mom to Josey, whom she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.
“To see her put all that energy into her son was an incredible sight to see and something I’ll always remember,” said 42-year-old Morrison.
Riley, 35, also noted how Rivera had hosted the GLAAD Media Awards twice, in 2011 and 2012. For her second tour as host, the late star was joined by former co-star Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson until his death in 2013.
Rivera’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, said the late actress “would be honored to receive this recognition.”
“When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian, she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that, and she said, ‘I feel great about it!’ Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community,” the statement continued.
Previtire added, “Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice. I don’t believe she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”
“Thank you GLAAD for keeping my daughter’s legacy alive,” the message concluded.
Rivera played Santana Lopez from 2009 to 2015 on “Glee.” Her final role will be the voice of Catwoman in the upcoming animated feature “Batman: The Long Halloween.”
The cast honored her incredible work ethic and professionalism on the show, her spirit as a mother, her passion for the LGBTQ+ community and the issues it continues to face, as well as her kindness and incredible sense of humor.