Naya Rivera: 5 Things to Know About the Late ‘Glee’ Actress

Naya Rivera vanished after a day out on a lake with her son and was found dead in 2020. Learn more about the late actress, here.

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It’s been four years since Naya Rivera‘s untimely death. The late Glee star was only 33 years old when she went missing while on a boat ride in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. On July 8, 2020, Naya was found dead, and an autopsy report confirmed that she had died from an accidental drowning while in the lake. Her fellow Glee cast members mourned her death in addition to her ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, with whom she shared son Josey.

Here are five things to know about the actress who rose to international fame on the beloved Emmy-winning series.

Early Life

Naya grew up in the Valencia area of Santa Clarita, California, where she was thrust into the spotlight at the tender age of 4. Her first big break was on the short-lived early 90’s sitcom The Royal Family which costarred television legends Della Reese and Jackee Harry. Jackee tweeted a clip from the show of her and Naya acting together after she disappeared while asking for prayers that she will be found. “Please God, don’t cut this life short.”

Naya Rivera
Credit: REX/Shutterstock

Naya’s Acting Career

She had a bunch of guest-starring roles in the years to come on programs like Baywatch, The Smart Guy, The Bernie Mac Show and CSI: Miami. Things did a complete 180 for her, career wise, when she joined the cast of Glee during its first season in 2009. Her character of Santana Lopez was more of a background performer towards the beginning of the show before they expanded it to something much bigger as the series progressed.

Life During & After Glee

The brunette bombshell has been able to accomplish quite a lot professionally outside of her time on Glee. She released her debut single in 2013 called “Sorry” featuring then fiance Big Sean, played a recurring role on the Lifetime series Devious Maids and penned a memoir titled Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up in September 2018.

Naya’s Love Life.

Naya’s first big public relationship was with Big Sean. She and the award-winning rapper began dating in early 2013 before getting engaged later that year in October. Their relationship eventually went to splitsville when the former duo announced that they had broken up in April 2014.

Naya Rivera Ryan Dorsey
Former couple Naya Rivera & Ryan Dorsey. Credit: REX/Shutterstock

Marriage, A Baby & Divorce

She rekindled her romance with fellow actor Ryan Dorsey in 2014 after her split from the “Bounce Back” rapper. They initially dated in 2010. The twosome wed later that year in July in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, before she welcomed their only child in September 2015. Their divorce was finalized three years later following a ton of drama that included a tumultuous November 2016 incident where she was arrested and charged for allegedly hitting him in the head and face during an altercation over their child.