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Naya Rivera, Gone At 33

by Christina St-Jean about a year ago in celebrities

Actress Was An Incredible Talent, All Too Human

#NayaRivera was a woman, mom, actress, trying to find her way in the world. Perhaps best known for her role as #SantanaLopez in Glee, Rivera was a talented performer who became known for her work in supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

It's weird, isn't it? Using the word "was" to describe someone so young. It seems so incredibly wrong to realize that someone as young as Rivera is no longer with us and will not light up the world any longer.

We could go on and mourn Rivera for the next several days, months or years, as we do for the likes of young performers like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin who were lost far too soon to us. We could reflect about how the cast of Glee appears cursed, what with the passing of #CoryMonteith due to a drug overdose and the suicide of #MarkSalling just prior to his conviction for possession of child pornography.

Or we could celebrate what she was: a multifaceted performer who loved her friends, her family and her son. We could especially celebrate the fact that she was wonderfully human. Sure, she had her messiness - we all do - but by the same token, she was driven by her passions and her beliefs.

She was passionate about her 4-year-old son, Josey, who woke to have to explain to investigators that his mother disappeared beneath the water and didn't come back up. Several warm, and now heartbreaking, photos from Rivera's Instagram show her with her boy, or even just pictures of her boy, and if there's any one thing that's clear, it's that she absolutely adored him. If what the sheriff's department representative said is true, Rivera actually used her remaining strength to save Josey and push him to safety before sliding beneath the surface of the water for the last time.

She was passionate about how she was viewed by the LGBTQ+ community. Rivera often acknowledged that she was appreciative of the fact that she was a trailblazer when it came to LGBTQ+ representation on television.

"It has been one of the great blessings in my life to receive such love and touching stories as a result of my portrayal of Santana Lopez on Glee," she wrote, according to Hello Giggles. "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."

The world was shocked when the news broke that she'd married her now ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, and their relationship was contentious, resulting at one point in domestic assault charges being laid, and later dismissed, against Rivera. Just three months before she died, she and Dorsey came to an agreement about joint custody. While some might argue that these issues might come to make Rivera look badly as she is a celebrity and when you're a celebrity, there's much to be said about curating and maintaining a positive public image.

The thing is, Rivera was human. She may have been an actress and a singer, and put up on a pedestal as a result of her talents and celebrity status, but she was someone's friend, sibling, and family member. She came to mean a great deal to people across all communities because of what she represented to so many. In all of this, it's important to remember that Rivera was human - not a celebrity, not a performer, but human, and she meant a lot to so many people in her world.

She should be honored for that, not her role in the celebrity realm.


Christina St-Jean

I'm a high school English and French teacher who trains in the martial arts and works towards continuous self-improvement.

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Christina St-Jean
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