Naya Rivera died tragically in a boating accident on July 8, 2020.
Naya Rivera wasn’t originally among the stars of “Glee,” but her outsized talent and personality quickly saw her character, Santana Lopez, emerge as a force to be reckoned with and loved all at the same time.
The strength of her character and personality carried over into her personal relationships with the entire cast, which remained tight (mostly) even after the show had gone off the air. Now, they’ve come together to pay tribute to their friend and colleague on the one-year anniversary of Naya’s death.
It was July 8, 2020 when Naya was officially declared dead after her body was recovered from a lake where she had been swimming with her young son, Josey. It is believed that her last act was to get Josey back onto the boat she had rented, likely saving his life.
Perhaps one of the more surprising tributes — that was touching in its own way — came from Lea Michele, the series erstwhile star who shares a somewhat strained relationship with the rest of the cast, including Naya.
She was embroiled in the midst of controversy for her alleged on-set behavior during the filming of the show when Naya passed, creating an awkward friction between her and the rest of the cast as they first hoped for Naya’s survival and then mourned her lost.
Nevertheless, on the anniversary of Naya’s death, Lea shared a still screenshot from the show to her Instagram Stories with a dove emoji. But it was the significance of the moment she chose that added an extra layer of poignancy.
In the scene Lea shared, Naya was performing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Barbra Streisand’s “Funny Girl.” Lea had performed the same song in the show’s first season, as part of her Barbra-like trajectory.
By that fifth season, she was cast to take the lead in a new production, and this was Naya competing to be her understudy. And so, with subtlety, Lea was honoring a shared experience between the two oft-competing actresses with a song they both performed on the show.
Heather Morris, who played Naya’s on-screen best friend and lover — and enjoyed a close friendship beyond the show — took to Instagram to share a new tattoo that she’d gotten to honor her friend.
Showing a series of pictures, including footage of her getting inked, Heather’s new tattoo reads, “tomorrow is not promised.” Naya shared that sentiment as part of one of her last tweets last year in July.
“no matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you’re alive is a blessing. make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised,” she tweeted just days before her untimely passing.
Several other castmates, including Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Matthew Morrison, and Jenna Ushkowitz paid tribute to Naya as well on their social media. You can check out all of their tributes below: