While Naya Rivera's family will still, obviously, have a long road of grieving and healing ahead of them, many of the Glee star's fans and former co-stars are also still coming to terms with losing her after the accidental drowning which took her life early last month. Several of Rivera's family members, friends and co-stars from the Fox hit have paid public tribute to her in the past few weeks, and now music superstar Gloria Estefan (who played Santana's mom, Maribel) is speaking about how heartbreaking the loss is.
As everyone continues to process Naya Rivera's devastating death, more of those she touched professionally are coming forward to talk about what it was like to work with her, and Gloria Estefan is now doing the same. Even though Estefan only appeared in two episodes as Maribel, she still has fond memories of Rivera and the time they spent on set, and told Entertainment Tonight:
It was a brutal loss. She was the nicest, warmest person. A lovely girl [and] triple threat. I send a lot of prayers out to that family. What's an interesting thing, too, that I thought about later -- I played her mother and [her character] came out in that show. And then, without even knowing [it] … that was going to be also me.
As Gloria Estefan said, a lot of people are still dealing with the "brutal loss" of Naya Rivera, but plenty have come out to talk about what a light the singer / actress / dancer was, especially on the set of Glee. It was just last week that co-star Jane Lynch called Rivera "a force of nature," noting how quickly she could memorize extensive monologues, change them to suit what she felt better fit Santana's voice and rattle them off like they were second nature. In calling Rivera a "triple threat," it's clear that Estefan fells the same way about her, even after such a short time spent working with her.
If you weren't a Glee fan, you might not know that a huge part of Rivera's character development over all six seasons of the musical dramedy was her coming to terms with her feelings for her best friend and fellow cheerleader, Brittany (Heather Morris). While Lynch and Morris both spoke about how important that storyline was and how Rivera was well aware of what it meant for viewers to be able to see the relationship between Santana and Brittany grow into a full-blown romance, Estefan has now had an important realization about Santana's coming out, as well.
While Santana's grandmother wasn't supportive or accepting of her coming out until the very end, Maribel was much more open and didn't seem to have anything but support for her daughter. What Estefan realized after her appearances on Glee, was that she ended up reliving the coming out of a daughter in real life, when her daughter, Emily, came out and told her she's a lesbian. Estefan didn't say that going through it on the show helped her with her own daughter, but it's almost certain that seeing the acceptance Maribel had for Santana did assist some actual families when their kids came out.