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Actress Naya Rivera poses for a portrait session at the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival on July 24, 2013 in Giffoni Valle Piana, Italy. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Actress Naya Rivera poses for a portrait session at the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival on July 24, 2013 in Giffoni Valle Piana, Italy. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Remembering Naya Rivera one year after her death

Rivera’s loved ones and fans are recalling the actress’ impact on their lives.

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Naya Rivera’s family and friends honored the memory of her life on the one year anniversary of her tragic death. 

The Glee actress and singer tragically drowned on July 8, 2020 at California’s Lake Piru after spending the day with her four-year old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey. A search began after Rivera did not return to the boat and her son was found alone inside of it. 

Rivera’s body was later found five days after she went missing and was ruled an accidental drowning, she was 33. 

Rivera, who is best known for playing Santana Lopez on the Fox series Glee, was much more than the character. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. 

One year later, Rivera’s family shared the many moments they had with her. In an interview with ABC News, Rivera’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, shared the moments she had with her daughter the day she left for the lake. 

"I missed two of her FaceTime calls, and I called her back. And we had a beautiful conversation. The sun was kissing her face and she was just beautiful," she said, her voice breaking. "She had a white, beautiful swimming suit on and she was glowing."

Previtire and the rest of Rivera’s loved ones have continued to grieve the loss of her, and Rivera’s mother said the grief has often overwhelmed the family. 

"Sometimes we're afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we're afraid for our own self, 'cause this is hard. There are no words to describe what we're going through," Previtire said. "All we know is we have each other."

Amid the grieving, Rivera’s younger sister, Nickayla, said she finds comfort in knowing Naya impacted so many people, as she brought a queer Latinx representation to the screen with her character, Lopez. 

"It was really awesome to hear the personal stories, people would come up to Naya all the time and say she saved their lives or helped them come out to their family,” Nickayla said to ABC News. "My sister, even though she was acting, was touching people's real lives and helping them become who they really are and not being ashamed of that. It was just really amazing to see that she had that impact."

Rivera’s sister shared that the impact she had on people through her character is a testament to how hard she worked and dedicated to her passion of entertaining. 

"She persevered, she motivated herself and she got to where she needed to be to inspire all of those people around the world," Nickayla told ABC News

On this one year anniversary, Rivera’s family continues to keep her memory alive by talking to her son, Josey, about his mother, saying they are all honest with him about Naya. 

"It's almost like we're feeding off each other and lifting each other up. Josey has lifted me up so many times," Previtire said to ABC News. "He's comforting that way, and we do the same for him."

In addition to her family, many fans have also taken to Twitter to express their condolences and memories of the late actress, with many expressing the impact she had on them.

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