'Glee' Cast Reveals First Look at Naya Rivera Tribute

Naya Rivera died in July 2020 in an accidental drowning, and her Glee castmates are preparing to share a tribute to their late friend in a special virtual reunion as part of the GLAAD Media Awards on Thursday. A sneak peek of the reunion from Entertainment Weekly shows the cast all Zooming in to reunite with each other, with several Glee stars including Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer and Darren Criss on screen. "You all look great. You haven't aged a day," Lynch told them. "Now you have to say the same thing to me."

The tribute to Rivera celebrates the 10th anniversary of her Glee character, Santana, coming out, and the virtual reunion will see the cast celebrate that moment and spotlight the character's impact on LGBTQ teens and Latinx LGBTQ representation on television. Demi Lovato, who played Santana's girlfriend on Glee, will introduce the tribute. Other cast members participating include Jacob Artist, Jessalyn Gilsig, Dot-Marie Jones, Vanessa Lengies, Kevin McHale, Alex Newell, Lauren Potter, Harry Shum Jr. and Becca Tobin. "It's something to celebrate," Ushkowitz said of Rivera and Santana's impact. "It's something that marked a lot of fans' lives and affected a lot of people in the fandom because of her bravery as a character and seeing themselves represented on TV. Glee was breaking barriers at the time."

The actress added that the anniversary is "bittersweet because we miss her so much, and I feel like there was so much more she would have done if she was still around, but the fact that we're able to pay tribute and honor the work she did do, and the effect she did have on people's lives, it gives us something to celebrate as well in her remembrance."

Ushkowitz was the one to orchestrate the reunion, reaching out to GLAAD about honoring Rivera, who previously hosted the GLAAD Media Awards multiple times. "The Santana army is really quite incredible and we've talked to many, many fans and they were pushing for some kind of tribute for the work she's done in the LGBTQ community as Santana and as Naya," she said. "So, I reached out to GLAAD and we were able to craft this really incredible moment pretty quickly because we're a pretty tight-knit crew, so anything for Naya. It's not hard to rally the troops."

The 32nd annual GLAAD Media Awards will premiere exclusively on GLAAD'S YouTube channel on Thursday, April 8, at 8 p.m. ET. They will also be available to stream on Hulu starting at 10 p.m. ET and can be viewed there until the end of June.