Naya Rivera's Glee castmates delivered a touching tribute in honor of the late star at Thursday night's GLAAD Media Awards. People reports Demi Lovato started off the memorial with a solemn introduction of Rivera's other cast members. "I don't have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year," she started. "A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya's girlfriend Dani on Glee."
She went on to praise Rivera and the character she portrayed on the show for her pioneering spirit and her willingness to represent queer Latina women on TV. "The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls, like I was at the time, and her ambition and accomplishments inspire Latina women all over the world," Lovato added. "That's the power of a show like Glee. And LGBTQ youth, you have power, too."
Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Amber Riley, Jacob Artist, Heather Morris, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Vanessa Langies, Alex Newell, Lauren Potter, Jessalyn Gilsig, and Chris Colfer were also present via video call and also honored the late star by sharing their memories of her.
"There was always just so much more than met the eye with Naya," Criss said. Jenna Ushkowitz chimed in adding, "she would make everybody laugh, on-screen and off, but like the real win was if you made her laugh, because you knew you actually did something really funny."
"Her best role was her being a mom," Ushkowitz continued. "That was the most fulfilling, to see her do that." Rivera's mother, Yolanda Previtire, also sent a statement showing how proud she was of her daughter and said she would have been "honored" to see the recognition she received. "When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said 'I feel great about it!'" Previtire's statement said. "Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community."
"Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice," Previtire continued. "I don't believe she realized how important she was to the world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other."