"There was so much more than met the eye with Naya," Darren Criss said of Rivera.

Olivia Harvey
Apr 09, 2021 @ 11:07 am
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Naya Rivera
Credit: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage, Getty Images

On Thursday, April 8th, the cast of Glee reunited at the virtual GLAAD Media Awards to pay tribute to Naya Rivera who tragically died in a boating accident in July 2020. This year is the 10th anniversary of Rivera's Glee character, Santana Lopez, coming out to her family on the hit series and her friends, and castmates wanted to thank her by remembering her talent, her personality, both her GLAAD Awards hosting stints, and some of her greatest Glee hits.

The Zoom reunion consisted of Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Jacob Artist, Matthew Morrison, Heather Morris, Jessalyn Gilsig, Dot-Marie Jones, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Vanessa Lengies, Jane Lynch, Alex Newell, Lauren Potter, Amber Riley, Becca Tobin, and Harry Shum Jr.

"This year has been hard and challenging in so many ways," Morrison (who plays Will Schuester) began. "There's been so much loss," Potter (Becky Jackson) added, "with over 500,000 Americans from COVID."

"So many friends and icons from the LGBTQ Community," Colfer (Kurt Hummel) said, with Morris (Brittany S. Pierce) continuing, "There was one particular loss that hit us so incredibly hard, when we lost our dear friend Naya Rivera."

"There was so much more than met the eye with Naya," Criss (Blaine Anderson) said, and Potter noted that she was always "in awe" of how talented her friend was. "She made everybody laugh on screen and off but the real win is if you made her laugh because you knew you actually did something really funny," Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang) said. And both Ushkowitz and Morrison agreed that her "best role" was being a mother to her son, Josey.

Rivera's mother, Yolanda Previtire, wasn't available to appear in the tribute but shared a heartwarming message with the GLAAD Media Awards audience. "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!'" Previtire wrote.

She continued, "Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice. I don't believe that 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."

And so many of Rivera's fans would say the exact same. It's still a shock that she's gone, but the legacy Rivera left behind is one that will never be forgotten.