Glee cast lead tributes to Naya Rivera after actress’s body is found in California lake

Rachel McGrath
·6-min read
Naya Rivera has been found dead at a lake in California: REUTERS
Naya Rivera has been found dead at a lake in California: REUTERS

Glee cast members including Darren Criss and Jane Lynch have paid tribute to Naya Rivera, after her death at the age of 33 was confirmed last night.

The actress went missing last week during a boating trip at Lake Piru in Southern California with her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis.

Her body was found on Monday, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Shortly after the news was announced, there was a flood of tributes to Rivera, who was best known for playing high school cheerleader Santana Lopez on Glee.

Her co-stars on the musical-comedy series were among those paying tribute with Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s on-screen girlfriend on the show, said she will “forever cherish” starring alongside her.

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The singer posted pictures of the pair on set together and said: “The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world.”

Lovato added: “My heart goes out to your loved ones at this time.”

Darren Criss played Blaine Anderson on Glee and paid tribute to a “wild, hilarious, beautiful angel”.

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He tweeted: “She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn’t help but be enchanted by. I also always loved her voice, and savoured every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see.

“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. And it’s a gift that will never go away.”

Jane Lynch, who played ruthless cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, tweeted: “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”

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Chris Colfer shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, celebrating his more than 10-year friendship with Rivera.

He wrote: “Her brilliance and humour 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 honour and a suit of armour. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.”

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Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, added: “Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.”

Lea Michele played Rachel Berry and posted a black and white picture of Rivera to her Instagram Story, as well as an image of Glee cast members at a beach.

Nene Leakes, who had a recurring role in the show, posted a series of pictures with Rivera and said she had been “praying for a miracle” while Kevin McHale shared a tribute on Twitter:

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Figures from across the entertainment industry, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Oscar winner Viola Davis also shared their condolences online:

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Rivera's death was confirmed at a press conference held by Venture County Sheriff's Office at 2pm local time on Monday.

There is no indication of foul play or that Rivera took her own life, Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a press conference.

Officers also shared more details on how Rivera may have died, but added it was “speculation” at this point.

Ayub said currents that typically appear on the surface of the lake in the afternoon may have caused the unanchored boat to drift away from Rivera and her son, who was wearing a life jacket, while they were swimming.

Rivera, who was not wearing a life jacket, may have “mustered enough energy” to put the child back on board but not enough to save herself, he added.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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