'Glee' Creators Remember "Humor and Humanity" of Naya Rivera

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After the 'Glee' actress was declared dead Monday after going missing last Wednesday while boating with her 4-year-old son, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan announced that they are creating a college fund for Rivera's son.

Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan penned a touching tribute to Glee star Naya Rivera, who was declared dead at the age of 33 Monday after a body was recovered at the lake where she went missing at last Wednesday while boating with her 4-year-old son. 

In an emotional tribute, the creators shared how "heartbroken" they are over the loss of their "friend" Rivera that they "lucked into finding." 

"Naya wasn't a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn't have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn't take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with," they wrote. They praised Rivera for being someone who could act, dance, since and "nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene." They added, "She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around." 

While they commend Rivera for being responsible for "numerous iconic Glee musical performances" such as her Adele mashup, Valerie and Songbird, they cited the actress' "greatest Glee legacy" as "the humor and humanity that she brought to Santana's relationship with her best friend and eventual girlfriend/wife Brittany (played by Heather Morris)."

"It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what 'Brittana' meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time," they reflected. "Naya always made sure that Santana's love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany's love affected them. Naya's obligation to them — and to all of her fans — was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent." 

They described Rivera as "a real pro" who was "always on time, always knew her lines (which wasn't easy considering the giant mouthfuls of dialogue we often gave her)" and "always kept everyone laughing on the set. … She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous," they said of working with her on the Fox comedy.

They also acknowledged that "there were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years" spent making Glee. "We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, than we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show — she was our friend. Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family and her son Josey."

To honor Rivera's legacy, Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan announced that they "are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all." 

Following the tragic news, Rivera's Glee co-stars and other Hollywood figures took to social media to pay tribute to the actress. Rivera's career broke out in 2009 on Murphy's mega-hit Fox musical dramedy. Following her role on the musical comedy-drama series, Rivera had a recurring role on the Lifetime drama series Devious Maids. She later starred opposite Ne-Yo on the TV update of Step Up, which recently moved from its former home at YouTube to premium cable network Starz for its second season.

Rivera's body was found on the seven-year anniversary of the death of Glee star Cory Monteith, who died July 13, 2013, from a drug overdose. 

Read the full tribute from Glee creators below. 

We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera.

Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with. Naya could act, she could dance, and she could sing (could she ever sing!) She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene. She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.

Naya is responsible for numerous iconic Glee musical performances- The Adele Mash Up, Valerie, Songbird- but her greatest Glee legacy is probably the humor and humanity that she brought to Santana’s relationship with her best friend and eventual girlfriend/wife Brittany (played by Heather Morris). It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what “Brittana” meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time. Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them. Naya’s obligation to them- and to all of her fans- was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.

Naya was a real pro. Always on time, always knew her lines (which wasn’t easy considering the giant mouthfuls of dialogue we often gave her), always kept everyone laughing on the set. She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee. We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, than we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show- she was our friend.

Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family and her son Josey. The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.

-Ryan, Ian and Brad