(Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA)
Authorities said they are confident that the body they recovered at Lake Piru this Monday morning is that of former “Glee” actress Naya Rivera. This concludes the almost 1-week search for Ms. Rivera who disappeared on July 8, 2020 while swimming in the aforementioned Southern California lake with her 4-year-old son Josey.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said during a news conference that there’s no reason to believe that Ms. Rivera took her own life and there’s no indication of foul play either. Rather, it was a tragic case of accidental drowning. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said, “She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”
Ms. Rivera’s colorful acting and singing career spanned three decades. She was born on January 12th, 1987 in Santa Clarita, California and began acting at the age of four when she bagged a role on Eddie Murphy’s The Royal Family, a CBS comedy that aired in 1991. She rose to fame for her role as an unapologetic lesbian teen cheerleader named Santana Lopez on Fox network’s musical comedy-drama television series called Glee.
Because of her role as Santana Lopez which “meant so much to so many queer women,” Ms. Rivera was dubbed as an “LGBTQ TV trailblazer.” She said of her role as Santana during an interview with Los Angeles Times in 2011:
“Honestly, I never thought I’d actually be playing a teen lesbian.” She added, “I didn’t think it was going to go this far. But I’m glad that it did because there have been a lot of fans who have expressed that they’ve been going through similar situations in their lives. I’ve heard from girls that are in high school, they’re 16, 17, and they’re like, ‘I came out to my mom,’ or ‘I came out to my friends, and thank you for helping me do that.'”
Ms. Rivera’s latest project was a series called Step Up where she played the role of a high school administrator at Atlanta’s High Water Performing Arts High School named Collette Jones. Step Up also stars Ne-Yo and Terrence Green.
Naya Rivera was 33-years-old. She is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George; brother Mychal; sister Nickayla; and her 4-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey whom she called her “greatest success, and I will never do any better than him.”
Ms. Rivera’s friends and colleagues took to social media to remember her. Here are some of their statements:
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.— Kevin McHale (@druidDUDE) July 14, 2020
And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift.— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) July 14, 2020
And it's a gift that will never go away.
Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.
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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? 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. 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.
Lea Michele pays tribute to Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera via Instagram stories. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/CAGxyEeznN— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 14, 2020
Watch our favorite Naya Rivera performance as Santana Lopez on Glee below:
Rest in peace, Naya.