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Naya Rivera (1987-2020): ‘Your ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women’

Celebrities and fans pay tribute to Glee actor Naya Rivera, who was found dead on Monday in a Southern California lake. She was 33.

By: Entertainment Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 14, 2020 8:37:39 pm
naya rivera glee actor Naya Rivera was best known for playing Santana Lopez in Glee. (Photo: Naya Rivera/Instagram)

Six days after she went missing at California’s Lake Piru, actor Naya Rivera was pronounced dead by Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. The Glee actor’s body was discovered floating near the surface of the lake in Southern California. Naya is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George, younger brother Mychal, sister Nickayla and her 4-year-old son Josey.

As per authorities, Josey told investigators that Rivera boosted him back on to their rented boat and he saw his mother disappearing under water. “She must have mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said. Authorities also claim that Rivera was not wearing a life vest, and it was an accident. They assume that her body was trapped in the vegetation under the lake for several days before floating to the top, since divers had searched that part of the lake thoroughly before, where her body was eventually found. The FaceTime videos, which she did with her family from the boat before the accident took place, helped the search teams.

Naya Rivera is best known for playing a gay cheerleader named Santana Lopez in the Fox musical-comedy Glee for six seasons from 2009 to 2015. Glee cast and crew members have been sharing their tributes for Rivera. Actor Jane Lynch wrote on Twitter, “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were.” Co-creator of Glee, Steven Canals posted on Twitter, “I’ll never be able to articulate the importance of seeing Naya, a Black Puerto Rican, portraying a queer Afro-Latina on primetime TV. I’m heartbroken over all the stories that will remain untold. #RIPNayaRivera.”

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Follow all the latest updates about Naya Rivera.

20:37 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Actor Skai Jackson on Naya Rivera
20:22 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'She deserved to have a long life'

"I am truly heartbroken to hear of the confirmed loss of this amazingly talented woman. I have watched her shine since she was a little girl on #TheRoyalFamily. She deserved to have a long life full of every good thing. I’m gutted that that will never be. #RIPNayaRivera," tweeted Yvette Nicole Brown.

19:49 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Zoe Saldana on Naya Rivera

"My heart is heavy with the loss of Naya Rivera. She was a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and inspiration to many. My thoughts and prayers go out to her son, family and friends. Rest in peace beautiful," tweeted actor Zoe Saldana.  

19:20 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Darren Cris pays his last respect to Naya Rivera

"She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun.⁣

Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face.⁣ 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 savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see," wrote Glee co-star Darren Cris on Instagram.

18:58 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Amber Riley on Naya Rivera
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My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything.

A post shared by Amber Riley (@msamberpriley) on

"My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything," wrote Amber Riley as she shared this video.

18:35 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Kristin Chenoweth thanks Naya Rivera

"Thank you for what you gave the world. I love you," tweeted singer Kristin Chenoweth. 

18:17 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'God cover and hold her loved ones'

"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. God cover and hold her loved ones!" tweeted artiste Kehlani.

17:52 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Demi Lovato on Naya Rivera

Demi Lovato wrote, "RIP Naya Rivera. I'll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. 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."

17:26 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Glee star Lea Michele pays tribute to Naya Rivera

Lea Michele shared this image of Naya Rivera on her Instagram story as she remembered the late actor.

16:58 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Former co-star Terrence Green shares heartbreaking video
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🕊💔 @nayarivera 💔🕊

A post shared by Terrence Green (@rawswagger) on

16:36 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'You were the life of the party'
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A post shared by Harry Shum Jr (@harryshumjr) on

"I am failing miserably to process this news. I always imagined old future senior members where we would hear your infectious laughter down the hall knowing that our funny bone was in for a treat. To many people, myself included, you were the life of the party. Not only able to rock when fun was to be had after a long day but that shining friend that was always willing to listen, offer sympathy, perspective and at times, give much needed levity to any situation," Glee actor Harry Shum Jr shared in an Instagram post.

16:12 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Singer Bebe Rexha on Naya Rivera

"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," tweeted Bebe Rexha. 

15:51 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'The world has lost one strong woman'

"My heart breaks for Naya Rivera, her son Josey and their whole family as they grieve such an unspeakable loss tonight. The world has lost one strong woman who spent her final moments saving her son. The ultimate expression of a mother’s love..." shared writer Melissa Blake in a Twitter post. 

15:35 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Actor Nathalie Emmanuel on Naya Rivera

"I never met Naya Rivera but was a huge fan of her in Glee. What she did on that show was so incredibly important. I can’t even imagine the pain of those who knew and loved her. My thoughts are with them... especially her little boy. 😢 #RIPNayaRivera," tweeted actor Nathalie Emmanuel. 

15:03 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Viola Davis on Naya Rivera
14:38 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'Naya was such a beautiful light'

"Had the honor of dressing Naya a few times and she even attended one of my shows. Naya was such a beautiful light, so lovely and chic. She will forever be missed. Sending love to her family," designer Christian Siriano tweeted.

13:54 (IST)14 Jul 2020
'Naya had a gigantic presence'

"For having such tiny body, Naya had such a gigantic presence, a void that will now be felt by all of us - those of us who knew her personally and the millions of you who loved her through your TVs. I love you, Bee," actor Kevin McHale wrote on Twitter. 

13:39 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Former Glee co-star Chris Colfer remembers Naya

"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," Chris wrote in a touching tribute on Instagram.

13:23 (IST)14 Jul 2020
Naya's family and the Glee cast pay their final respects to the late artiste

Naya Rivera began her acting career at the age of 4. She was part of television shows like The Royal Family, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, The Bernie Mac Show, The Sinbad Show, Baywatch and Girlfriends. She tasted fame with her TV show Glee where she played a lesbian teen. She later made her feature film debut in 2014's At the Devil’s Door and released the single "Sorry" in 2013, featuring rapper Big Sean, a one-time fiance. 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment said in a statement, "Naya Rivera was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy. We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to Glee, from the first episode to the last."

"Honestly, I never thought I’d actually be playing a teen lesbian," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. "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'," she added.

Naya Rivera was recently seen in Lifetime’s Devious Maids. She also released her memoir in 2016 and played school administrator Collette Jones in the YouTube Red online series Step Up: High Water starring Ne-Yo.

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