‘Step Up: High Water’ Creator Remembers Naya Rivera as 'One of the Coolest and Most Beautiful People'

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Naya Rivera Holly Sorenson
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The untimely death of Naya Rivera has left her fans, friends, family and those who worked with her in shock. Days after Rivera was found dead in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, following a boating trip with her young son, Josey, the creator and executive producer of Step Up: High Water, Holly Sorensen, penned a letter honoring the late actress.

Before her death, 33-year-old Rivera was preparing to go into production on Starz’s Step Up after previously playing Collette on the YouTube show Step Up: High Water alongside Ne-Yo. 

"There is an aching hole in the soul of the Step Up family," began Sorensen's message, which was published by Deadline. "Naya Rivera was more than just a cast member to us. She was a leader, a creative wunderkind, a pro and a badass."

Sorensen said both Rivera and Ne-Yo "exuded love, grace, professionalism and care" during their time on set.

She also recalled a sweet story when Rivera gave Terrence Green, who played Rigo on the show, her Saint Laurent sunglasses after he admitted he was a bit intimidated by her. 

"He remembers, 'She looked at me and asked, ‘Do you feel different?’ And I said, ‘Nah.’ And she said, ‘Exactly, because you’re already a superstar, I’ve watched how you carry yourself, I’ve watched how you treat me and everyone on set. You’ll be a major blessing to this industry as long as you stay true to you. Keep these glasses as a reminder that it was never about Yves Saint Laurent, it’s always about who you are on the inside. You are already the real superstar.'"

Green isn't the only one Rivera made feel special. Sorensen said "actors share how she lifted them up on hard days, directors who were new to the set have told me about how Naya worked to make them comfortable, writers on set recount her hilarious running gags."

Sorensen further recalled Rivera's son, Josey, being on set and how he was her "greatest source of power and love."

"She was a brave and extraordinary mom," she said of the actress. "She allowed him to be who he was and their life was an adventure."

Sorensen also noted that she "talked to Naya very recently, and she was also a part of a wonderful cast and crew video for my birthday the day before she went missing."

"While we are so happy our last images of her are of a blazingly bright light, we so grieve it extinguished," she concluded her tribute to Rivera. "Rest in power, dear Naya. One of the coolest, and most beautiful people we will ever know, and will never, ever forget."

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