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'Glee' cast to reunite as part of annual GLAAD Media Awards

The cast will do a special tribute to the legacy of the late Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez.
Image: Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen" in 2019.Charles Sykes / NBCUniversal via Getty Images file
/ Source: TODAY

The cast of “Glee” will reunite during the virtual ceremony for the GLAAD Media Awards on April 8 for a special tribute to the legacy of the late Naya Rivera’s character Santana Lopez.

Rivera, 33, tragically drowned in California’s Lake Piru last summer.

For years, Rivera played Lopez, a cheerleader who was also in show choir. Her character eventually fell in love with and married a fellow singing cheerleader Brittany S. Pierce, played by Heather Morris.

Heather Morris and Naya Rivera in the "New Directions" episode of Glee in 2014 on FOX.
Heather Morris and Naya Rivera in the "New Directions" episode of Glee in 2014 on FOX.FOX Image Collection via Getty Images file

The tribute at the GLAAD Media Awards will feature Morris as well as Rivera’s other castmates: Jacob Artist, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Vanessa Lengies, Jane Lynch, Kevin McHale, Matthew Morrison, Alex Newell, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr., Becca Tobin and Jenna Ushkowitz.

In a release, GLAAD said the tribute will honor the 10-year anniversary of Santana Lopez coming out on the show and will “spotlight the character’s impact on LGBTQ teens and Latinx LGBTQ representation on television.”

“Glee,” which aired from 2009-2015, was nominated six times for outstanding comedy series at the GLAAD Media Awards and won twice. The awards are meant to “honor media for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues,” GLAAD said in a release.

The cast will be introduced by pop star Demi Lovato, who also has a connection to the show. At one point, she portrayed a love interest of Rivera’s character.

Last year, Lovato penned a tribute to Rivera, thanking her for the pioneering role of Santana Lopez.

“The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world,” Lovato said in a post.

Morris and Rivera’s other former co-stars have been open about their shared grief in losing a friend. As officials searched the lake for her body, several cast members gathered at the shore near where Rivera had parked and rented a car with her son, 4-year-old Josey. The cast held hands and reporters at the scene said they shouted her name together.

Image: Cast members from the show "Glee" and friends gathered at the boat launch
Cast members from the TV Show "Glee" and friends held hands as they shouted "Say her name - Naya" as they gathered on the Lake Piru boat launch on July 13, 2020 in Piru, Calif.Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

Morris has shared several fond memories of the late star, writing about their “beautiful friendship” built out of “love and understanding.”

“I speak to you everyday because I know you’re still with me and even though I’m feeling greedy that we don’t get more time together, I cherish every moment we had and hold it close to my heart,” Morris said in July.

In August, she shared a video tribute to her late friend, holding back tears as she talked about their relationship on the show.

“We both knew how special it was,” Morris said. “I think she knew a little bit more than I did.”

The awards will air on GLAAD’s YouTube channel on April 8 at 8 p.m. ET and will also stream on Hulu starting at 10 p.m.

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