Last week, tragedy struck when Glee star Naya Rivera passed away in a boating accident in Lake Piru, California. Investigators say that it appears she drowned due to the lake’s strong currents. It also appears that her last act was saving her four-year-old son by making sure he was safe on the boat. Our hearts go out to the Rivera’s family and friends and our thoughts are with them during these unimaginably tough times.
The tragedy comes exactly seven years after Glee stars and fans mourned the untimely death of another member of the cast; Cory Monteith. In 2013, he was found deceased in a Vancouver hotel room as a result of a drug and alcohol overdose. Rivera and Monteith were two talented and charming individuals, bringing joy and smiles to millions around the world.
Remembering Naya Rivera
Rivera got a super early start in show-biz; when she was less than a year old, she had a talent agent – her mother. As a little baby, she played in some Kmart commercials. As she grew older, Rivera juggled her professional life between small-time gigs (such as on CSI: Miami and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and working “normal” jobs, including being a nanny, and a greeter at a clothing store. As she worked away and honed her skills and charm, she also learned how to sing.
In 2009, spells were cast, incantations were uttered, skills were perfected, and Rivera landed herself a job as Santana Lopez on Glee. She would go down in history as the attitude-laden, cold-hearted sophomore who didn’t take nonsense from anyone. Rivera’s fellow Glee stars and her family, stricken by sadness, took to the internet to share heartfelt words and speak about their love for Rivera.
Heather Morris, who played Brittany S. Pierce in Glee, paid an emotional tribute to her friend. She wrote, “You are and always will be the strongest and most resilient human being I know, and I vowed to carry that with me as I continue to live my life.” Since the show, Morris and Rivera were very close. They both had young sons, who got along very well, and they always hung out.
Morris concluded her kind words and wrote, “I speak to you everyday because I know you’re still with me and even though I’m feeling greedy that we don’t get more time together, I cherish every moment we had and hold it close to my heart.”
Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel in Glee, posted a photo of himself and Rivera together and captioned it, “Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power and poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a good day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying.”
The makers of Glee, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan released an emotional statement describing the good times they had with Rivera. They said, “She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent… 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.”
In a memorable tribute to their lost loved one, Rivera’s family ended their statement with a perfectly articulated and unforgettable line: “Heaven gained our sassy angel.”
A Sad Coincidence
Exactly seven years before police and emergency services found Rivera’s body, Cory Monteith was found deceased due to an accidental drug overdose. Monteith and Rivera were good friends, and both left way before their time.
Kevin McHale, the actor in Glee who played Artie Abrams, heartbroken by the news of Rivera, wrote on Twitter, “I’m not religious by any means, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that Cory didn’t help find our girl today. These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another. So nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people.”