“Watching her perform was like watching magic unfold before your eyes.”
Rivera’s body was discovered in California’s Lake Piru last week, a number of days after she was declared missing. Her 4-year-old son, who was found asleep in a pontoon on the lake, told police officers that his mum never came back up to the surface after diving into the water.
Writing for Variety, Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel on the show, said how she was “the cool older sister you went to for advice” and added that “just being in Naya’s presence made you feel protected” at work.
He also praised her “heroic and groundbreaking portrayal” of Santana Lopez on Glee, writing about the inspiration it gave to “millions of young people around the world, especially in the LGBTQIA community”.
“As a friend, you could talk to her about anything,” he recalled. “She was the cool older sister you went to for advice, to blow off steam, or to get the hottest take on the latest gossip.
“She was never afraid to stand up to authority, she always called out mistreatment where she saw it and she always told you the truth – even when it was hard to hear.”
Colfer’s tribute went on to state how the “void” left by his co-star could only be filled by Rivera herself.
“To have a friend like her, even briefly, is to be blessed beyond belief. She is a shining example of the impact a person can have when one lives fearlessly,” he added.
“Her loss is a tragic reminder to celebrate every moment we possibly can with the people we love because the only thing we know for certain about life is how fragile it can be.
“To quote Naya herself, ‘No matter the year, circumstance, or strife, everyday you’re alive is a blessing. Make the most of today and every day you are given. Tomorrow is not promised.'”