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. 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.
Following Jane’s tweet, Josh Sussman and Max Adler also took to Twitter to share their feelings. Josh, who played Santana’s classmate Jacob on the hit series, wrote, “Naya, you will be missed so much.” And Max, who played Blaine’s (Darren Criss) short-lived love interest Dave Karofsky, 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. ❤️”
Less than 24 hours before Naya’s body was found, Glee star Amber Riley 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.”
Kevin McHale then added, “I cannot begin to understand what Naya’s family must be feeling. I know the rest of us are completely shattered, but not without hope. Please respect her family & their privacy in this moment. Please refrain from judging those who don’t show their pain on social media.”
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.