Riley has already paid tribute to her friend and co-star several times on social media, initially posting the following message to Instagram shortly after Rivera’s death was confirmed by officials: “My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything.”
Another powerful tribute came from Heather Morris, who played Rivera’s on-screen love interest, earlier this month. Speaking directly to fans of their Glee characters’ romance, she said, “I don’t need to explain what the importance of Brittany and Santana’s relationship was to all of you who are watching. Most of you felt like it was your gateway into your current life. Most of you felt like it was an inspiration to become your best self. I want you to know that that was never lost on me. It was never lost on Naya. We both knew how special it was. I think she knew a little bit more than I did.”
Though Rivera was best known for playing Santana Lopez on Glee, she had previously appeared on shows like Family Matters, 8 Simple Rules and The Bernie Mac Show. Following her time on Glee, Rivera lent her talents to shows like Devious Maids and Step Up: High Water. Her final televised appearance was on an episode of Netflix’s Sugar Rush, which debuted on July 31.
Shortly before the tribute aired, Riley found comfort in an old tweet from Cory Monteith, another Glee cast member whose life ended tragically early:
Hit PLAY on the video above to watch footage of Riley’s tribute, then drop a comment with your thoughts below.