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Remembering Naya Rivera One Year After Her Death

Here's a look back on Naya Rivera's life and career.

Naya Rivera passed away one year ago today, so we are taking time today to remember the star's short but very full life.

The Royal Family (1991-1992)

The Royal Family


Naya Rivera got her first big break playing Hillary Winston on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Royal Family. The show, created by Eddie Murphy, followed Alfonso and Victoria Royal (Redd Foxx and Della Resse) as they adjusted to their adult daughter and her children moving back in with them.

Glee (2009-2015)

Rivera's role on Fox's musical comedy Glee put her on the map. She starred as Santa Lopez, the witty and sharp-tongued popular cheerleader with a heart of gold. Despite its light-hearted tone, the show did not shy away from the tough subject matter, and Santana's sexuality was a major storyline on the show. Fans loved the relationship between Naya's character and fellow cast member Heather Morris's character Brittany S. Pierce, a ditzy cheerleader in the glee club.

Sorry (2013)

In 2013 Rivera released her first solo single, "Sorry," featuring rapper Big Sean, her boyfriend at the time. It would be the only piece of music the singer would release on her own.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2013, Rivera said this about the song's release:

"I've been waiting for this day ever since I was a little girl. It's always been my dream to release my own music. I love writing, and I wrote this song, so to see something that I've been wanting to do forever come true is amazing."

Naya Rivera and Ryan Dorsey (2014-2018)

Three months after breaking things off with fiancee Big Sean, Rivera married actor Ryan Dorsey in July 2014.

In a statement to People Rivera and Dorsey said:"

"We feel truly blessed to be joined as husband and wife. Our special day was fated and everything we could have ever asked for."

The couple would later file for divorce, reconcile, and divorce for good in 2018.

Josey Dorsey (2015)

Josey Hollis Dorsey was born in 2015.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rivera and Dorsey welcomed Josey on September 17, 2015, after announcing they were pregnant in April of the same year.

Sorry Not Sorry (2016)

In 2016, Rivera released her tell-all memoir Sorry Not Sorry. In it, she chronicled her life, career, and the various ups and downs that shaped her as a person. She even revealed profoundly personal life events like an abortion in 2010.

In a 2016 interview with Cosmopolitan, Rivera opened up about the response she received after sharing such a deeply personal story.

"Overall I've been getting a really positive response, and that makes me feel really good because that's why I shared it in the first place — to try to make a change and impact other people's lives, and other people that may have gone through a similar situation."

Step it Up: High Water

Before her passing, Rivera had returned to TV in the first two seasons of Step Up: High Water, a YouTube Red original series. The show followed the lives of students attending an Atlanta performing arts high school. Rivera played the school's principal, Collette Jones.

On July 8, 2020, Rivera drowned during a boat trip on Ventura County's Lake Piru with her son Josey. She was only 33-years-old.

According to CNN, Rivera saved her son before saving herself, and Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said:

"She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," Ayub said.

Rivera is currently trending on Twitter as fans send out love and remembrances of the star that was gone too soon.

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