Glee pay tribute to the late Naya Rivera in ‘bittersweet reunion’

The Glee cast reunited to honour the late Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Awards, which she hosted twice.

The cast paid homage to the actress and her character on the series, Santana Lopez, who was an important LGBTQ+ and Latina icon for fans of the show.

It marked the 10 years anniversary of Santana’s coming out as a lesbian on the show.

Demi Lovato kicked off the tribute saying: “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 ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

She was then joined by Naya’s former castmates who praised her as a person and looked back on their memories of watching her perform and being blown away by her talent.

Lauren Potter, Heather Morris, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jacob Artist, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Dot-Marie Jones, Harry Shum Jr., Alex Newell, Becca Tobin, Kevin McHale, and Amber Riley all joined on Zoom to reminisce.

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“I remember when Naya became regular cast members, she was a dancer and I always thought she was cute and she was a great dancer. And then Ryan started giving her lines and I was like wow, this girl is really something,” recalled Jane Lynch.

Jenna Ushkowitz continued: “She made me everyone laugh on screen and off, but the real win was if you make her laugh because then you knew you did something really funny.”

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They also reflected on “her best role as a mom” and Matthew Morrison added: “To see her put all that energy into her son was just such a sight to see and something I'll always remember."

They closed the tribute with a statement from Naya’s mother, Yoland Previtire.

It read: “Naya would be honoured 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."

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"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."

Naya Rivera died from accidental drowning in the summer of last year, while out sailing with her son.

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