Many who were close to the late Glee star Naya Rivera continue to express their sadness and love for the actress. Among them are the Fox show’s creators, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, who released a statement paying tribute to Rivera and her talent on the show. They also announced that they they plan to create a college fund for the actress’ four-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey.
On Glee, Rivera played the iconic role of Santana Lopez — all the more notable when you take into account that she wasn’t a series regular at first, and the character originally only had a few lines in the pilot, according to the creators. “It didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with.”
Not only have the Glee creators joined fans and co-stars in praising Rivera’s talent as a triple-threat (“Could she ever sing!”), and her iconic performances (“The Adele Mash Up, Valerie, Songbird”) but also the important path she helped forge as one of the few Afro-Latina LGBTQ+ characters on primetime television. On the show, Santana first presents herself as a fierce cold cheerleader with a knack for dishing out searing disses and knowing exactly who she is. But as the show progresses, we start to see more of Santana’s prismatic nature and her vulnerability as she comes of age and comes to terms with her love for her best friend, Brittany (played by Heather Morris).
“It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television," the trio wrote, "and Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time."
Rivera drowned while swimming with her son in Lake Piru in Southern California on July 8. Investigators believe that Rivera may have died trying to save Josey from the water’s strong current. “The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all,” Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan wrote.