‘Glee’ cast reunite to pay tribute to late co-star Naya Rivera: “She made everybody laugh on screen”

The actress who played Santana Lopez in the show, died in July last year

The cast of Glee reunited to pay tribute to late actress Naya Rivera at the 32nd annual GLAAD Media Awards last night (April 8).

The actress who played Santana Lopez in the show, died in July last year.

She was reported missing after taking a boat trip at a popular waterway with her four-year-old son, Josey. The child was found asleep on the boat three hours after it had been rented. Rivera’s body was found on July 13 after local officials commenced a recovery mission.

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Introduced by Demi Lovato, who guest-starred on Glee as Santana’s girlfriend Dani, those who took part included Matthew Morrison, Heather Morris, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr, Jane Lynch, Jenna Ushkowitz and Darren Criss. You can view their tributes below.

“The character Naya played was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls like I was at the time and her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world,” Lovato said.

“There was always just so much more than met the eye with Naya,” said Criss, while Lynch added: “I was like, ‘Wow, this girl is really something.'”

Ushkowitz continued: “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.”

Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire also shared a message about her daughter, read out by Jessalyn Gilsig.

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Lopez was one of several LGBTQ+ characters portrayed in Glee, which Rivera previously explained had developed from an initial brief storyline. “It started off as this funny little thing, like ‘oh yeah she just randomly hooks up with her friend Brittany,’ she said at the time.

“But I was kind of encouraging them to make it more serious and not play around with it cos there are people out there that it’s not a joke to. It’s their real lives.”

Rivera is set to be the voice of Catwoman/Selina Kyle in Batman: The Long Halloween, in her final film role.

The new animated project will be split into two parts, with the first expected by this summer.

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