Naya Rivera's last television appearance was released on Netflix Friday. The late Glee star appeared as a guest judge in an episode of Sugar Rush, the baking competition reality series. Before the episode began, audiences saw a brief black tribute card, dedicating the episode to Rivera's memory. Rivera died after going missing in Lake Piru in Ventura, California on July 8. Her body was discovered after a five-day search.
Rivera appears in the second episode of Sugar Rush Season 3, titled "Birds of a Feather," in which bakers are challenged to come up with bird-themed treats. The episode was filmed in Los Angeles in February, just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic shut down all Hollywood productions, reports Deadline. The episode also features the show's host, Hunter March, and professional chefs Candace Nelson and Adriano Sumbo as the regular judges. Sugar Rush's producers consulted with Rivera's family and former manager after her death, and they approved releasing the episode as planned.
Rivera was last seen alive on July 8, when she took her 4-year-old son Josey to Lake Piru for an afternoon swim. When she did not return with her rented boat in three hours, lake employees searched for her. They found Josey safe and asleep inside the boat, but Rivera was missing. Officials spent five days searching the man-made reservoir for her and found her body floating on July 13. Rivera was laid to rest on July 24 at the famous Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery.
"We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey, and our family over the past week," Rivera's family said in a statement after her death. "While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter, and sister."
Actor Ryan Dorsey, Rivera's ex-husband and Josey's father, published his own tribute on July 25. "Time on Earth is precious and you just never know....you never know what could happen," the Yellowstone star wrote. "Hold your loved ones close, and cherish the times you have with those you care about."
Rivera was best known for playing Santana Lopez on Glee from 2009 to 2010. She also played Blanca Alvarez on Devious Maids and Donna on The Bernie Mac Show. Her last regular series role was as Collette Jones on the YouTube series Step Up: High Water.