The past several days from last week and this one comprised a concerning, and ultimately tragic, story for fans of the long-concluded Fox musical comedy-drama series “Glee.” It began with the sudden disappearance of actress Naya Rivera last July 8 at a California lake where she and her son Josey had gone on a boat ride, and ended July 13 when her drowned body was found. Her accidental death was a blow to her fellow cast-mates and show fanatics, echoing the sorrow felt when two other “Glee” stars died in past years, one of them during the series’ run itself.
And as The Philippine Star tells it, among the many cast and crew of Fox network’s “Glee” that came out in an outpouring of grief and tribute for Naya “Santana” Rivera were her costars of Filipino extraction, namely Fil-Am actor Darren Criss and singer Jake Zyrus. Criss, who portrayed Dalton Academy Warbler Blaine Anderson, posted an Instagram ode with a photo of the late actress, whom he described as bold, outrageous and “a LOT of fun.” He spoke of Rivera’s “wicked” sense of humor, playing by her own rules, and how remembering her on the show still makes him smile in spite of her passing.
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She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun. Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face. She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn’t help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see. I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now. And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it's a gift that will never go away. Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.
With Jake Zyrus, once known as Charice Pempengco, he made a minimalist post on Instagram Stories comprising the letters of Rivera’s first name. It was a poignant tribute despite the limited amount of interaction between their characters in “Glee.” Then-Charice was added in a recurring role for season 2 (2010-11) as Philippine exchange student Sunshine Corazon, whose prospects in joining McKinley High’s titular glee club New Directions were sabotaged by Rachel Berry (Lea Michele). The character would make only three episode appearances for season 2, two of them being both the premiere and the finale.
Naya Rivera portrayed Santana Lopez, initially an antagonistic McKinley High varsity cheerleader who joins New Directions as a spy, only to grow and develop as a skilled musical performer. Her most iconic relationship is with her co-cheerleader Brittany (Heather Morris) due to being a closeted lesbian, and the ups and downs of their time together got significant spotlight in “Glee.”
The discovery of Rivera’s body on the 13th of July coincided with the death anniversary of the Fox series’ male lead star Corey Monteith, who played Finn Hudson until the fourth season, dying in 2013. Another “Glee” costar, Mark “Puck” Salling, committed suicide in 2015.
Image courtesy of Billboard