On Monday afternoon, celebrities took to social media to remember “Glee” star Naya Rivera, whose body was found in California’s Lake Piru after six days of searching.
The messages began pouring in after Ventura County Sheriff William Ayub told the press that he was “confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” based on the “location of where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body, as well as the absence of any other persons reported missing in the area.”
As for what could have happened, Ayub said, “We believe it was mid-afternoon when she went swimming, the idea being, perhaps, that the boat began drifting… and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself. [Her son Josey] described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
According to Ayub, Rivera’s body was found near where she had been swimming with her son. He said, “We believe she was concealed within the shrubbery of some of the floorbed of the lake.”
Her fellow “Glee” co-stars Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Alex Newell paid their respects online on the day that also marked the seventh anniversary of former co-star Cory Monteith’s death.
Colfer wrote on Instagram, “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.”
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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.
Ushkowitz shared on Instagram, “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. 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.”
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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. 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. 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.
Along with acknowledging Monteith's death, Kevin McHale opened up about his last conversation with Rivera. He shared on Instagram, "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."
Lynch, who played Sue Sylvester on the FOX hit, tweeted, “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
Alex Newell, who played Unique Adams, added on Twitter, “Now more than ever we must lift her family and friends up especially Josey! My heart is sent to them... Josey you are truly loved by every single person who loves your mommy! I love you Naya!”
Becca Tobin remembered Rivera for her kindness. She wrote on Instagram, "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. 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. ❤️."
Some of Naya’s castmates were also seen at Lake Piru, joining hands with her family on Monday.
Captain Eric Buschow, spokesperson for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, told Us Weekly, "I don’t know who is who in the cast, but there were 12 to 15 people. They were down there by the edge of the lake and prayed for about a half hour. … I did not go down there and stand with them, so I don’t know what they did or said other than they had expressed a desire to go down there and have a prayer.”
“As they were praying, we got a call that the body was discovered on the surface of the lake,” Buschow continued. “We didn’t tell them because anytime we — in the case of a death, we don’t want people to find out from other sources or from the media. We want the family to be notified officially. We don’t want them to learn about it on the news.”
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, which produced “Glee,” reacted to her death, saying, “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.”
Singer Bebe Rexha reflected on a dinner she had Rivera. She tweeted, “This is an absolute nightmare. I had the pleasure of having dinner with her once after a recording session we did together and she was an absolute sweetheart. My heart goes out to her family and friends. I hope I’m lucky enough to meet you up in heaven. Rest In Peace Naya Rivera.”
Lionsgate, which produces Rivera’s final series, “Step Up,” said in a statement, “Our hearts go out to Naya Rivera’s family, especially her young child, in response to the tragic news of her passing. She was a vibrant and luminous talent who will always remain a very special part of our ‘Step Up’ family. Her remarkable contributions to our industry created a lasting memory that will be carried forward by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.”
See more reactions below.
It feels strange to cry and mourn the loss of someone you never knew. But I grew up watching Glee- and Naya Rivera was such a beautiful talent. My heart breaks for her son.— Lili Reinhart (@lilireinhart) July 13, 2020
Hold on tight to your people right now, if you’re lucky enough to be near them 💔
I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Naya Rivera.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 13, 2020
The talent and depth Naya brought to her characters inspired millions. As a Latina, it‘s rare to have rich, complex characters reflect us in media. Naya worked hard to give that gift to so many.
Que descanse en paz.
I had the opportunity to work with the one and only #nayarivera. So much talent. Deeply saddened and touched. Please, let her have peace, Lord. 💔💔💔— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) July 13, 2020
Prayers for Naya Rivera's family. Man....can we have a "Do Over " of 2020. The loss is too much 💔💔🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/63iNdRikv5— Viola Davis (@violadavis) July 13, 2020
the reason songbird by fleetwood mac is one of my favorite songs ever is because of the glee soundtrack version. she transformed it. 🙏🏼 Rest Easy Naya Rivera— Kehlani (@Kehlani) July 13, 2020
God cover and hold her loved ones!
Rivera is survived by her 4-year-old son Josey.