On Glee, Santana Lopez stood out as groundbreaking queer Latina representation. She was presented as a nuance and complex character, initially starting as quite a minor role, and slowly but surely gained a legion of fans who saw themsleves in her. Today marks the ten year anniversary of Lopez's fateful coming out and in celebration, the cast of Glee will be reuniting at the GLAAD Media Awards to play tribute to Lopez, and the late Naya Rivera who played her.
Rivera tragically passed away last year at the age of 33 when she drowned in Lake Piru in California. She is survived by her four-year-old son, and will always be remembered for the trails she blazed for queer Latinx representation on TV.
In honor of Rivera and Lopez, here are fourteen of our favorite Santana performances from the show.
After leaving the New Directions to start a new, all-girl glee club, Santana, Mercedes, Brittany, and Sugar reunite with the team that had become their family. Santana is always the last to show her emotions, has a heartfelt moment during her bridge solo. Rachel reaches out to her, welcoming her back and you can feel the emotions.
In hindsight, the performance has taken on another meaning. At one point, Santana and Finn, played by Corey Monteith hug and sing, arm-in-arm "tonight we are young." The scene hits a lot harder knowing both actors died at tragically young ages.
Santana Lopez out-Berried Rachel Berry, singing one of her signature songs from Funny Girl, and absolutely nailing it. She even incorporated Rachel's starting the song at the back of the theatre. Santana is glowing and at this point there was no doubt that she was one of the strongest singers and actors on the show.
After Corey Montieth tragically passed away in the middle of the show, Glee also had his character Finn die, and when the glee club came together to sing tributes to him, every single performance was devastating.
But Santana singing this song for Finn — when the two had constantly bickered and fought — and breaking down while singing it, is one of the episode's most beautiful moments.
While she doesn't take the lead on this song, it's still one of Santana's greatest moments on the show. Her coming out was one of the most groundbreaking on television, and the emotion really shines through as she explores her feelings for Brittany the only way she knows how: singing to her.
Mercedes and Santana was an unstoppable combination, and both of these top two songs show that off. Santana was made to sing Tina Turner songs. Listening to this blistering track will add a hundred years to your life — go do it now. This is a masterclass on bringing down the house. There's no way they shouldn't have won the trip to Breadstix.
The best mashup on the show, the best duet on the show, maybe the best song on the whole show, 'Rumour Has It/Someone Like You' was a game changer. Afraid she's going to lose her girlfriend, and right after finding out that she's been outed as a lesbian, Santana teams up with her best duet partner, Mercedes, to lay down the law on this number.
It has some of the tightest choreography of any Glee song, and there's no doubting either singer's talent or might. The moment where in a spin, Santana turns her head after the rest of her body so that she can linger on Brittany is sublime. The pause they take after Mercedes opens the song is heartbreaking, and the way Santana looks down before powering through her first line in the song lights a fire in your heart.
Rivera should've won awards for this episode, she was everything in it. Santana sings with emotion and power, letting it all out. “Don’t forget me, I beg,” she wails, and we never will.