The internets are buzzing with rumors that Naya Rivera, who plays the snarky Santana on Glee, is leaving the show. Although it has not been confirmed, there is ample evidence in interviews and reports, dating back to January, that Naya is finished as a regular cast member.
Although Kalan G, who shoots BTS video for FOX tweeted that Santana was written into the script for the first all-New York episode, “New New York,” Naya hasn’t been spotted on set since the two part 100th episode special wrapped a few weeks ago. Production is currently filming the 3rd all-New York episode, 5×16. She’s also dyed her hair blond (which would be a no no if she were still filming), and is seemingly busy with photo shoots and non-glee appearances, according to her twitter.
One of her last tweets from set, at the beginning of February, had a ring of finality about it:
On set with Glee shooting a very sweet Brit/Santana scene! #starttogetherendtogether
— Naya Rivera (@NayaRivera) February 6, 2014
Suspicions were first aroused when a Hollywood Reporter article from 1/10, that announced Gwyneth Paltrow’s return to the show, oddly left Naya off of the list of NYC cast members.
The Fox musical will then do several consecutive episodes set in New York City, centering on Rachel (Lea Michele), Blaine (Darren Criss), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) and potentially other co-stars.
You’ll noticed that it did mention Amber Riley, whose character, Mercedes, has come in and out of storylines since moving to Los Angeles after graduating at the end of Season 3. As it turns out Amber is shooting a small arc as we speak. Reportedly, she’ll hook up with old flame, Sam (Chord Overstreet).
Also, In the latest round of press for the 100th episode, Lea Michele seemed to spill the beans in an interview with MTV when SHE namechecked the New York City cast, including Amber, but did not mention Naya.
It’s just myself, Kevin McHale, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Chord Overstreet in New York City. I think that’s everyone. Chris, Darren, Chord, Kevin, me and then Amber comes in for a few episodes. […] We’re actually going to be shooting here in New York City in a few weeks.
Lea namechecks the same people in an interview with EOnline
It’s New York now, we switched locations and high school is done for the rest of the season. So it’s me and Chris and Darren and Chord [Overstreet] and Kevin [McHale] in New York and it’s so awesome
She also seems to confirm that Tina, played by Jenna Ushkowitz, won’t be making the move with her fellow seniors. But we spoiled that news a few weeks ago.
Naya herself seems to hint that Santana’s story may come to an end sooner rather than later. When asked by Prestige Magazine how she would like to see Santana develop in the future, Naya answered:
I don’t know, I’m not really sure. The stuff we filmed for the 100th episode brings her full circle, and I’m really comfortable with where she’s at right now.
In our batch of little spoilers for “New Directions” part 2 of the 100th episode celebration, we reported that Santana gives Brittany a plane ticket to New York City. I double checked with my source, who is familiar with the script. As far as they know, Santana was not written off the show in that episode. Nor was there an explanation for an extended absence, as the spoiler based in Brazil is claiming. HOWEVER, when my source saw the script, the episode had not yet wrapped. The script could have been re-written on the fly as the crew was shooting.
Lastly. My source is telling me that Naya does NOT plan to come back for Season 6, and that scripts for season 5 have already begun to omit her. It’s her decision not to return. I’m assuming it means that she won’t be a series regular next season. But, like Dianna Agron, Harry Shum Jr. Heather Morris and Amber Riley who are no longer regulars, I would not be surprised if she returns, at least occasionally.
Brad Falchuk, Glee c0-creator and producer told The Hollywood Reporter that any former series regular could return to the show.
As of right now, we’re focusing only on the New York and adult stories,” he said. “[The original stars] come and go. They’re there for 100 and 101 and then it’s coming and going. There’s a little more Amber. [But] never say never. When you have Harry here and he’s dancing, you do want to see him constantly. But that’s not saying anything is planned or in the works; it’s always best to keep talented people very close by.
Naya is certainly one of those talented people. She may not be part of the week to week plotline, but I bet we see her at LEAST occasionally. And who knows, maybe the show will make Naya an offer she can’t refuse, and she’ll decide to come back for Glee’s last season, on a regular basis after all. She was my favorite girl. Her Lima Heights realness played off the idealistic naivete of Kurt and Rachel perfectly.They were the odd trio. Believe me, I’m as bummed as anyone that Naya appears to be leaving the show.