The Truth About Leah Remini And Naya Rivera's Relationship

The world is still reeling from the tragic and sudden death of Naya Rivera on July 8, 2020. Following her disappearance in Lake Piru, Calif., those who knew Rivera and worked with her shared memories of their time together. The late actress inspired an outpouring of support, particularly from her castmates on Glee, the musical comedy series which featured Rivera as cheerleader Santana Lopez for six seasons. Chris Colfer called her "one of a kind," Kevin McHale remembered her as "stupidly talented" and a "really, really good" person, and Dianna Agron called working with Rivera "a gift."

The cast members of Glee weren't the only ones to share fond memories of their time with Rivera, however. Support poured in from all corners of Hollywood, including from some surprising sources. Gloria Estafan, Tia Mowry, and Jade Chynoweth all shared messages honoring the star. Among the chorus of mourners was The King of Queens star Leah Remini, who opened up about her under-the-radar relationship with Rivera.

Naya Rivera made Leah Remini's work a 'pleasure'

Naya Rivera and Leah Remini first worked together on 2017's Mad Families, a Crackle production also featuring Charlie Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, and Dennis Quaid. Remini recalled that "although the job wasn't pleasurable, [Rivera] made it so." The two had a genuinely good time working together, with Remini sharing on Instagram in July 2020, "She made me laugh on days I didn't want to laugh, she reminded me to be appreciative of the work and fun we were having just sitting around together." Lest anyone think Remini's words were just to honor the deceased, Rivera also confirmed the story years earlier.

In a 2017 interview with Latina magazine, Rivera said she was a fan of Remini and glowed about how "funny and professional" she was. Rivera shared an anecdote as well, remembering, "We were doing a shoot one night... We were there at like 3 am and it was so cold. Leah was playing rap music on her phone and we were all dancing to it." Even though Remini and Rivera's relationship began as strictly professional, the two sound as though they really became friends on set.

Rivera's absence will continue to be felt for a long time, but she will live on in the lives, like Remini's, that she influenced for the better.