Naya Rivera was a force—on the small screen and behind it.
A month since the actress' tragic death, the TV star's memory lives on in the people she touched throughout her life, including her Glee co-star Jane Lynch. Appearing remotely on Today With Hoda & Jenna on Wednesday, Aug. 12, Lynch remembered the late actress as a powerful and professional performer.
"I think that one of the things that kind of got lost when we were doing the show was what a force she was because there were so many talented people," Lynch told Jenna Bush Hager. "She was one of those people—she wasn't in every scene, but when she was…she just blew everybody away."
Lynch, who played opposite Rivera's Santana Lopez as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, also noted how the young actress rolled with the punches. "I had three-page monologues, so did she. It took me a week to get mine. She would do them right off the bat and they would be changing them and she had no problem with it," Lynch described.
Beyond the scripts and the scenes, Rivera was remembered as an advocate and ally.
"My niece Megan was very close with Naya," Lynch noted, "and Megan always said that, with Naya, you felt like somebody had your back. She was somebody who wasn't going to let anybody mess with you. She was a great advocate and loved the fact that she and Heather Morris had the lesbian relationship on the show and how much that meant to so many young people."
Overall, "she was a force of nature," Lynch said of her beloved co-star. "It's just gut-wrenching and heart-breaking that she's gone."
Rivera was confirmed dead on July 13 after her body was recovered at Lake Piru in California. The 33-year-old actress went missing five days earlier after renting a pontoon boat and going out on the lake with her 4-year-old son, Josey Dorsey. Josey was later found on the boat by himself, spurring a search for Rivera. An autopsy confirmed the star accidentally drowned.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)