By Lauren Huff
July 17, 2020 at 04:41 PM EDT
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Starz

Step Up: High Water

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  • TV Show

Step Up: High Water creator Holly Sorensen shared some touching memories of star Naya Rivera on Friday. Rivera played Collette Jones on two seasons of the YouTube show, which is inspired by the film series of the same name.

In a Deadline tribute to the actress, who was found dead on July 13 by accidental drowning at age 33, Sorensen praised Rivera's contributions to the show. "She was a leader, a creative wunderkind, a pro and a badass. Every show is of course a family, but there are many kinds of families," she wrote. "The Step Up family is, blessedly, the kind we all yearn for: loving, supportive, hilarious and committed – and this is in no small part because of the beautiful energy of Naya, making this loss unconscionable."

Sorensen also praised the Glee castmember as a consummate professional and leader on set, particularly among newer actors. In one particularly touching moment, Sorensen recalled how Rivera gave co-star Terrence Green a pair of her sunglasses that he admired, and gave him a pep talk about how he was already "the real superstar" in his own right.

Sorensen said that encounters like that one were not uncommon, and because she was a "bonafide star" she had the right to use the diva card, but rarely did. "It’s well reported what a pro Naya was, how she hit every mark and could make it work when newbies couldn’t find theirs. How she delivered huge speeches in one take. How she could make a vague scene work brilliantly by intuiting the point, even if it wasn’t on the page," she said, adding that it is "unimaginable" that we "won’t see her work in the future, which I know would have been varied and brilliant."

In August 2019, the series was canceled at YouTube, before being picked up for a reimagined third season at Starz. At the time of her death, Rivera was preparing to go into production on the show, which is now going by the moniker Step Up. "Cast have shared texts about how excited she was for this season of Step Up, more excited than she’s ever been for a season of TV," Sorensen, who spoke with Rivera recently before she died, said. "While we are so happy our last images of her are of a blazingly bright light, we so grieve it extinguished. Rest in power, dear Naya. One of the coolest, and most beautiful people we will ever know, and will never, ever forget."

Rivera is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George Rivera; her younger brother, Mychal; her younger sister, Nickayla; and her 4-year-old son, Josey.

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Step Up: High Water

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