On Jan. 12, fans sent out thousands of tweets for Naya Rivera's 34th birthday to remember her and celebrate her onscreen legacy. The announcement of the actress' death in July 2020 caused a wave of tributes to roll in from Glee watchers and former cast members, and her first birthday since her tragic passing is no different. Fans of Rivera posted their favorite moments, photoshoots, and songs in memory of the iconic talent.
News Rivera went missing spread around the world on July 8, 2020, and only a few days later her body was found. The actress had gone to California's Lake Piru for a peaceful afternoon on the water with her 5-year-old son, Josey, but she ended up drowning in the lake, which is known for its dangerous whirlpools. Over 25,000 Ventury County locals have since sought to implement more visible safety warnings around Lake Piru.
Fans aren't letting Rivera's memory to fade in 2021, and the tributes posted to Twitter show just how much of an impact the star had on the public and pop culture in general. Rivera's role as Santana in Glee remains one of the most prominent portrayals of queerness on a mainstream television show in history, and her fans will never forget her character's most moving scenes and performances.
The messages of love on social media for what would have been the actress' 34th birthday celebrate not only her performances and characters, but also her spirit. One user posted a video of a smiling Rivera dancing, and wrote, "Thank you for your work, thank you for the wonderful human being you were here, thank you for your light, thank you for having existed."
Another Gleek posted a video montage of the cast performing "Seasons of Love" from RENT, and cropped in footage of Rivera and another late Glee star, Cory Monteith. Although Monteith died in 2013, the news of Rivera's passing in 2020 compounded the already-palpable pain felt by cast members. One particular tribute from cast member Harry Shum, Jr., conveyed exactly how Rivera should be remembered on days like her 34th birthday.
"To many people, myself included, you were the life of the party," Shum wrote on July 14, 2020, only a day after Rivera's body was discovered in Lake Piru. "Not only able to rock when fun was to be had after a long day but that shining friend that was always willing to listen, offer sympathy, perspective and at times, give much needed levity to any situation."
On Rivera's 34th birthday, let's celebrate the star for exactly who she was: the "life of the party."