On Monday afternoon, Glee fans were saddened with the news that Naya Riverahad died after her body was recovered five days after she went missing. The star was taking an afternoon boat ride with her 4-year-old son, Josey, at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, last Wednesday before the tragic accident. Rivera's Glee co-stars also paid tribute to their friend with a visit to the lake on Monday. To celebrate one of Rivera's most recognizable roles in her TV and film career, we're looking back at her best moments as Santana Lopez on Glee.
What started out as a stereotypical, mean girl cheerleader in season 1 gradually transformed into a character with emotional depth, and that was all thanks to Rivera's deeply resonant performance. Santana quickly became a fan favorite for her quippy zingers and sarcastic wit, and soon fans fell in love with her unbelievable singing voice through her show-stopping Glee performances over the series' six seasons.
Appearing in nearly 100 episodes during the musical dramedy's six-year run, Rivera showed just why she became a household name after making a splash with her breakout role. From exploring Santana's sexuality with heart and empathy to the moment she slapped Finn Hudson, Rivera's range shined through in spades.
Last March, ET spoke with Rivera about her real-life friendship with fellow Glee alum Heather Morris, with whom she stayed close after Glee signed off in 2015. "She's great. We do keep in touch. I actually saw her a few weeks ago for her birthday," she said at the time. "We both have sons; she has two and I have one. They're sort of similar in age, so we always get together for play dates and they love each other."
Rivera also glowingly reflected on her time on Glee, sharing that she would "of course" be interested if a revival of the show took shape. "I loved that show, and I loved everyone on it," she said last year. "I think that everyone still loves it. So, yeah, I think that'd be awesome."
Relive some of Rivera's best performances and moments on Glee below.
"Landslide" (Season 2)
"Rumor Has It/Someone Like You" (Season 3)
Standing Up for Gay Rights (Season 6)
"Toxic" (Season 5)
"Smooth Criminal" (Season 3)
"There Are Worse Things I Could Do" (Season 4)
"Here Comes the Sun" (Season 5)
"Doo Wop (That Thing)" (Season 5)
"Back to Black" (Season 2)
"Valerie" (Season 2)
"If I Die Young" (Season 5)
Desiree Murphy contributed to this story.
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