Naya Rivera, best known for her role as the fiery and passionate Santana Lopez on the hit TV musical Glee, was found dead on Monday after going missing on Lake Piru in Southern California.
Although she started out as a minor character on the Fox series, her talent and charisma paved the way for her rising to become one of the show’s main figures.
Having appeared in all six seasons of Glee, fans grew to fall in love with her character not only because of her exceptional singing talent but because she had one of the best character arcs on the show. For six years, we witnessed her transform from a typical High School mean girl, to a complex young lady struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, to a loud-and-proud, slaying super diva.
In memory of Naya Rivera, let’s look back at some of her best performances on Glee.
“Landslide” (season 2, episode 15)
One of Santana’s story highlights is her relationship with Brittany (Heather Morris), which gave way to some of the most stunning covers on Glee. In this powerful Fleetwood Mac cover, she officially declares her feelings for the girl.
Mine (Season 4, Episode 4)
Before Santana and Brittany got their happy ending, their relationship during the early seasons had a rocky road. As the two prepare themselves for a break-up before they head off to different directions in Season 4, Naya goes all-out in this heart-rending cover of a Taylor Swift song.
Songbird (Season 2, Episode 19)
One of the aspects of the show that fans admired is how they represented the LGBTQ community. Naya’s portrayal of Santana has earned the hearts of fans for being an inspirational lesbian character. This performance shows Naya coming out and confessing her love again for Brittany.
Girl on Fire (Season 4, Episode 13)
This performance features Santana’s dramatic transition to finally being recognized as a star. If you’re looking for Naya’s much deserved-diva moment, this is it.
If I Die Young (Season 5, Episode 3)
Who would forget the sudden, tragic death of another Glee star, Cory Monteith? Here, we see Rivera dedicating a poignant, love-and-death song to her deceased co-star. But with what we know now about the similar fate of Naya, this just hits so differently now.
Valerie (Season 2, Episode 9)
This Amy Winehouse–esque take on “Valerie” marks Naya as one of the best performers on the show. This is also– if not the best– one of her best performances on the show.
What’s your favorite performance by Naya Rivera on Glee?
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