‘Glee’ Reunion: Which Stars Are Not Attending the GLAAD Media Awards’ Naya Rivera Tribute?

For a show ostensibly about “opening yourself up to joy,” Glee has a ton of darkness lurking beneath the surface. Both during its run and since its conclusion in 2015, the Fox musical comedy-dramedy has been plagued by tragedies and scandals. Now much of the TV show’s cast will reunite to pay tribute to the late Naya Rivera. But which stars won’t be participating?

'Glee' stars Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, and Heather Morris
‘Glee’ stars Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, and Heather Morris | FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Naya Rivera tragically died in 2020

Throughout its entire run, Rivera played Santana Lopez. Initially a recurring player, Santana came to the forefront in seasons 2 and 3. The latter year directly addressed the character’s sexuality and involved her coming-out storyline. And even when Glee’s focus split in season 4, Santana remained a main character in all but the show’s final season.

As for the actor who played her, Rivera tragically died in 2020 at the age of 33. Following a five-day search, her body was recovered in Lake Piru near Santa Clarita, Calif. And Rivera’s death was ruled an accidental drowning. Authorities claimed perhaps the actor managed to save her four-year-old son — with whom she went swimming — but not herself.

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Her ‘Glee’ co-stars will reunite at the GLAAD Media Awards

Given how Rivera’s role on Glee impacted the LGBTQ community, it made sense when GLAAD announced it would pay tribute to her on the 2021 GLAAD Media Awards. According to Entertainment Weekly, singer Demi Lovato — who played Rivera’s love interest in season 5 — will introduce the virtual Glee reunion, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Santana’s coming-out.

The announced list of attendees includes Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Kevin McHale, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Vanessa Lengies, Jacob Artist, Alex Newell, and Becca Tobin. Morris in particular was Rivera’s most frequent scene partner and a close friend outside of the show. But not every member of the Glee cast will be taking part.

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Which of Naya Rivera’s castmates will not participate in the tribute?

Given the ensemble nature of Glee’s cast, it’s unrealistic to expect every major star from the series to attend Rivera’s tribute. After all, many of them probably didn’t even work with the actor directly. Stars such as Jayma Mays, Melissa Benoist, and Dot-Marie Jones therefore were probably less likely to participate in the tribute anyway.

However, there are still a few stars egregiously absent from the announced guest list. Most obvious, of course, is Lea Michele. She and Rivera were reportedly rivals on the set and off. And even if there’s no connection, it’s hard not to think about Glee actor Samantha Ware’s 2020 comments regarding Michele’s on-set behavior during Season 6.

Dianna Agron and Chord Overstreet are the other two Glee alumni whose presence is missing. Agron played Quinn, one of Santana’s best friends on the show. And Overstreet’s character, Sam, briefly dated Santana during the series’ early seasons. Neither actor has made a statement about why they won’t be participating in the Glee reunion.