It’s incredibly shocking to say that yet another young star of ‘Glee’ is no longer with us, and no one is feeling the pain of losing Naya Rivera quite like her co-stars from the hit FOX series.
In news that shook the Glee-loving world, Naya Rivera, who played the fiery yet lovable Santana for the entire six-season run of the show, was found dead on July 13, five days after she went missing, following a day of boating with her young son, Josey, 4, in Lake Piru on July 8. After days of searching for her body, a law enforcement source confirmed to HollywoodLife, on Monday afternoon, that the actress died.
The Ventura County Sheriff, the office that has been conducting the search, also confirmed that they are “confident” that the body found was Naya’s “based on the location, physical characteristics, clothing and the physical condition of the body, as well the absence of any other missing persons,” at a press conference later in the day.They said the body was found at the NE portion of the lake, on the surface of the water, and confirmed that the area is 35-60 ft deep with heavy brush and trees on the lake bed. They believe the area was the same area she was swimming in before she went missing.
They went on to confirm that the body will be taken to the Ventura Medical Examiner, where an autopsy and a positive identification will be made through dental records.
During the press conference, 20th Century FOX Television & FOX Entertainment, the network that Glee was on, released a statement about Naya’s death.
“Naya Rivera was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy,” the statement read. “We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to GLEE, from the first episode to the last. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts go out to Naya’s family, friends and young son.”
Within minutes of the news that her body was found, Naya’s Glee co-stars sent sorrowful messages out to fans and shared their immense grief over her tragic passing.
Matthew Morrison wrote a long post about Naya, and included memories that he shared with her. “Naya was such a powerful force, in both her personal life and in her work,” he wrote. “While so many of us were trying to find our voice, Naya’s was clear and resolute. When she spoke, you would embrace every last word. And when she sang, she would let you into her soul. Glee acted as only a snippet of her life that we all, thankfully had the honor of witnessing.”
He added, “A common passion we both shared recently was that of our roles as parents. Naya was fervent about motherhood and had a steadfast love for Josey. It is that powerful love that ensures us that her story does not end here. I’m confident that her positive influence will be continuously felt, and that her beautiful spirit will carry on in the lives of so many. I’m devastated by this immense loss. This week has been long and trying with much praying and hope. I find some solace in closure, but the pain I feel for her and her family cannot be measured.”
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This loss is truly unimaginable. As many people have stated, Naya was a force. I was intimidated by her talent and presence on set, but she was always so kind and welcoming to me. So many of my Glee memories on and off set have Naya in them. She was one of a kind. My heart breaks for her family and friends. I’ll always keep Naya in my heart and remember her for the strong, talented and compassionate person she was to me in the brief time I got to spend with her. Sending so much strength and love to her family and everyone who’s heart is breaking over this tragic loss.
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Grant Gustin took to Instagram on July 15 to share a message about Naya. “This loss is truly unimaginable. As many people have stated, Naya was a force,” he wrote. “I was intimidated by her talent and presence on set, but she was always so kind and welcoming to me.”
He added, “So many of my Glee memories on and off set have Naya in them. She was one of a kind. My heart breaks for her family and friends. I’ll always keep Naya in my heart and remember her for the strong, talented and compassionate person she was to me in the brief time I got to spend with her. Sending so much strength and love to her family and everyone who’s heart is breaking over this tragic loss.”
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Remembering beautiful @nayarivera today. Getting to sing in this trio with her was such a special moment. I am in utter shock and disbelief that someone so full of life and passion and talent is no longer with us. And completely heart broken for her family. 💔
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For her tribute, Gwyneth Paltrow, who played a recurring character on the show, shared a video clip of one of the performances she got to do with Naya on Glee. “Remembering beautiful Naya Rivera today,” she wrote. “Getting to sing in this trio with her was such a special moment. I am in utter shock and disbelief that someone so full of life and passion and talent is no longer with us. And completely heart broken for her family.”
Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.
— Jane Lynch (@janemarielynch) July 13, 2020
The first to share their sorrow was Jane Lynch, who played Sue Sylvester, Santana’s cheerleading coach on the show. “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family,” her heartbreaking tweet read.
💔 Naya, you will be missed so much. 😞
— Josh Sussman (@JoshSussman) July 13, 2020
Following Jane’s tweet, Josh Sussman took to Twitter to share his feelings. Josh, who played Santana’s classmate Jacob on the hit series, wrote, “Naya, you will be missed so much.”
Amber Riley shared a sweet clip of Naya singing with her son, Josey, and remembered the times she used to duet with her former co-star. “My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything,” Amber captioned the sentimental clip.
Hey, July 13th….🖕
— Max Adler (@Mr_Max_Adler) July 13, 2020
Max Adler, who played Blaine’s (Darren Criss) short-lived love interest Dave Karofsky, also took to Twitter to respond to Naya’s death and said, “Hey, July 13th….,” followed by the middle finger emoji.
Chris Colfer shared an Instagram photo with Naya and a long touching message about the actress. “How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone?” it began. “If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly.”
“She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness,” he continued. “She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.💔 Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.”
NeNe Leakes, who played Roz Washington on Glee took to Instagram to share a series of pics with Naya and a heartfelt message. “I was praying for a miracle! I wanted you to come home to your baby so bad,” she wrote. “This hurts! I will hold the memories close to my heart and remember the good times, the laughs and the way we would cut up on set. Those were fun times! Please pray for Naya’s family🙏🏾ripnayarivera #lifeisshort #bigsis”
Becca Tobin also shared a touching post that included a smiling photo of her and Naya on the Glee set along with a caption expressing her sorrow. “Naya was insanely talented, breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, but the legacy she left behind for me is her kindness,” she wrote. “I joined the cast of Glee in the third season and as the newcomer, I was intimidated and terrified.”
“The cast was already such a tight-knit group who had been working incredibly hard together for over three years to make it a hit show and I never expected any of them to have time for me,” she continued. “To my surprise, Naya, one of the most beloved by the rest of the cast (and the entire world), showed me instant warmth and kindness. She invited me to parties and gatherings and was always there to give advice. She was a superstar who had nothing to gain from being kind to the new girl, but she was and that changed this new girl’s entire experience on that show. I will forever be grateful to that beautiful human. My heart goes out to her family and her sweet boy. ❤️”
Adam Lambert who appeared as a long-term guest star on Glee, also shared tribute posts. “RIP Naya,” Adam wrote alongside a pic of him and her singing.
Demi Lovato, who played the love interest to Naya’s Glee character Santana, shared her tribute on Instagram. “RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee, Demi’s post read. “The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world. My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.. ❤️🕊”
Kevin McHale shared an emotional lengthy post about his friendship with Naya and how devastated he is. “My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you,” he wrote. “7 years ago today, she and I were together in London when we found out about Cory. We were so far away, but I was so thankful that we had each other. A week ago today we were talking about running away to Hawaii. This doesn’t make sense. And I know it probably never will.”
“She was so independent and strong and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend,” he continued. “She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago verbatim. The amount of times she would memorize all of those crazy monologues on Glee the morning of & would never mess up during the scene… I mean, she was clearly more talented than the rest of us. She was the most talented person I’ve ever known & I’m furious we won’t get to see more.”
“I’m thankful she became like family. I’m thankful that my dad happened to have met her years before I did and when I got Glee, he told me to ‘look out for a girl named Naya because she seemed nice’,” he further wrote. “Well dad, she was nice and she became one of my favorite people ever. If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother. The way that she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful. I’m thankful that Naya got that beautiful little boy got back on that boat.”
Jenna Ushkowitz posted a black and white smiling pic of her and Naya and her own loving message. “There are no words and yet so many things I want to say, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to articulate exactly what I feel but… Naya, you were a ⚡️ force and everyone who got to be around you knew it and felt the light and joy you exuded when you walked into a room,” the message read. “You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors”
“I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you,” she continued. “I can not believe I took for granted that you’d always be here. Our friendship went in waves as life happens and we grow, so I will not look back and regret but know I love you and promise to help the legacy of your talent, humor, light and loyalty live on. You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday. I miss you already.”
Jacob Artist shared a memorable pic of him and Naya in a singing and dancing number on Glee and a sweet tweet to go along with it. “i was so intimided meeting naya for the first time,” he wrote. “i was a fish out of water and her warmth was disarming. for all her gifts as a performer she was also gifted as a person and made anyone feel seen and included. celebrating your mark on the world today.”
Damian McGinty, who played Irish exchange student Rory on Glee, also posted about Naya with a touching pic from the show that showed her and the late Cory Monteith putting a star on top of a Christmas tree. “Just unbelievable,” he wrote. “Grateful to have known you and worked with you and your talent. Look after her, big guy. RIP Naya. ❤️”
Melissa Benoist posted a gorgeous black and white pic of Naya smiling and a message about how the sad news has affected her. “She has not left my mind this last week. It’s difficult to find words,” she wrote. “There was an undeniable beauty that she radiated inside and out, and I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got to witness that up close even for the short period of time that I did.”
“I was so intimidated by her, yet she had a way of disarming that just made you want to be around her, hear what she had to say (because it would undoubtedly be the sharpest and most real thing you would hear all day),” she continued. “She was kind and open to me when she didn’t have to be, when I was a naive, clueless and insecure newcomer. Bravely authentic, genuinely kind, incredibly talented and deeply loved by so many. Thinking of her family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Naya.”
Show some respect. All our energy is going toward helping find Naya and praying for her safe return and for her family. No one owes anyone online a performance of grief. This is very real and devastating. Focus on Naya and her family. Not us. We don’t matter right now.
— Amber Patrice Riley (@MsAmberPRiley) July 12, 2020
Less than 24 hours before Naya’s body was found, Glee star Amber took to Twitter to clap back at haters who were criticizing her and her co-stars for primarily staying quiet on social media, following Naya’s disappearance. On July 12, she wrote, “Show some respect. All our energy is going toward helping find Naya and praying for her safe return and for her family. No one owes anyone online a performance of grief. This is very real and devastating. Focus on Naya and her family. Not us. We don’t matter right now.”
Tragedy is no stranger to Glee. Naya is the third cast member to die unexpectedly since the show debuted on Fox in 2009. Naya’s death actually falls just a few days before the anniversary of the death of her co-star, Cory Monteith, who died on July 13, 2013 of an overdose while the show was still on the air. Five years later, Mark Salling, who played Puck, killed himself on January 30, 2018, after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.