Rivera’s body was discovered five days after she disappeared on Lake Piru, where her son, Josey, was found July 8 alone on a boat the two had rented, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday that the body found was Rivera’s.
Rivera’s cast members were shouting “Say her name – Naya” as they stood on the boat launch on Monday.
Her body was found on the seven-year anniversary of the death of Glee star Cory Monteith, who died July 13, 2013 from a toxic mix of alcohol and heroin.
Many of her Glee castmates took to social media after Rivera’s body was found to send their condolences to her family.
Lea Michele posted photos of Rivera and Monteith to her Instagram story.
Jane Lynch, who played Coach Sue Sylvester on Glee, wrote, “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams, wrote, “My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world with you.”
McHale continued, “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.”
Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel on the series, posted a tribute to 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,” Colfer wrote.
Darren Criss, who played Blaine Anderson, posted a Twitter thread about Rivera.
“She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun,” he began. “Naya made me laughed 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 humour never ceased to bring a smile to my face.”
He continued: “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.”
Criss said that he was “constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends.”
“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. Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel,” Criss concluded.
Lauren Potter, who played Becky Jackson, wrote, “Cheerios Forever.”
Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s girlfriend on Glee, 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.”
Jenna Ushkowitz, who played Tina Cohen-Chang, wrote, “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.”
Becca Tobin, who played Kitty Wilde, wrote, “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 continued, “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 said that Rivera 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.”
Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins, tweeted the broken heart emoji.
Josh Sussman, who played Jacob Ben Israel, said, “Naya, you will be missed so much.”
Max Adler, who played Dave Karosky, tweeted broken heart emojis and crying faces.
Vanessa Lengies, who played Sugar Motta, wrote, “So much grief today. Grateful for our love and connection. Holding everyone tight. Family for lifetimes.”
Alex Newell, who played Unique Adams, wrote: “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!”
Damian McGinty, who played Rory Flanagan, wrote, “I was a newcomer to acting. She was the real deal and every scene we did together was a mixture of terrifying and hilarious. A brilliant combo. Great, but really sad memories.”
Glee‘s former recording engineer, Alex Anders, wrote: “Heart broken over the loss of Naya. We had so many good times together in the studio recording her wonderful voice. This was the last of those. I pray for her family and especially little Josey tonight. May she Rest In Peace. #naya.”
Glee writer Michael Hitchcock wrote: “Naya brought so much joy to our lives. She had the sharpest wit, the slyest smile, a compassion for people from all walks of life, and talent that knew no bounds. My deepest condolences to her family, friends, co-workers, and fans around the world. We love you so much, Naya.”
Before Rivera’s death was confirmed, Heather Morris, who played Brittany S. Pierce, said that she had “spoken to Sheriff Eric Buschow and rest assured they are using every single one of their resources to locate our Naya. I have full confidence that they’re doing everything they can, and probably more. We will hold off on the citizen search and rescue until we get the go-ahead that they’ll allow volunteers.”
“Understand it’s 110 degrees here and if you’re not highly trained in search and rescue, this could end up a much more dangerous situation for everybody involved. Please be kind, compassionate and caring for those who are looking for our Naya,” Morris added.
Rivera began acting at a young age, but she rose to national attention playing Santana Lopez on Glee, which aired from 2009 until 2015 on Fox.
“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,” said a statement from 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment.
Rivera began acting at 4, appearing in such series as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters and The Bernie Mac Show.
She and actor Ryan Dorsey were married in 2014 and their son, Josey, was born in 2015. She called her young son “my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him.”
Rivera was arrested and charged in West Virginia in 2017 with misdemeanour domestic battery after she allegedly hit Dorsey. The charge was dismissed because Dorsey did not wish to press charges. They divorced soon after.
Dorsey has not yet made an official statement about his ex-wife’s death but he was spotted at Lake Piru on Sunday.
Rivera’s death is the latest death in a tragic arc of Glee actors. Monteith died in 2013, and Rivera’s ex-boyfriend Mark Salling, who played a jock on the series, died by suicide in 2018 after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. Rivera and Salling dated for three years and broke up in 2010.
Many fans of Glee took to Twitter to speculate that the show might be “cursed.”
She is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George; a younger brother, Mychal; a sister, Nickayla; and her 4-year-old son.
—With files from The Associated Press