On Wednesday, July 8, the actor Naya Rivera — best known for her role as cheerleader Santana Lopez on “Glee” — went missing. Rivera had rented a boat so she could spend the day on California’s Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey. Later in the day, Josey was found asleep in the boat. His mother was missing. After learning that the pair had gone swimming, but that Rivera had never returned to the boat, a five-day search commenced.
On Monday, July 13, Ventura County police tweeted that a body had been found and was in the process of being recovered at Lake Piru. Later that day, the Ventura County sheriff held a press conference, at which he confirmed that Rivera’s body had been recovered. Rivera was just 33.
“As you can imagine, it has been an extremely difficult time for her family throughout this ordeal,” said the Ventura County sheriff. “Our hearts are with them and we share in their grief for Naya’s loss. Our hearts also go out to Naya’s many friends and fans who have been holding out hope for the best over the past few days. … Naya’s family has expressed their gratitude for all involved in the search efforts.”
Rivera’s fellow “Glee” castmates — including Heather Morris, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer and Kevin McHale — joined the actress’s family for the press conference. Journalist Dave Quinn tweeted out this image from an ABC7 broadcast that shows the cast members holding hands at the lake’s edge, pointing out that the image is, “incredibly powerful — especially when you consider today is the 7 year anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death.”
This photo of the cast of #Glee gathering together at Lake Piru today where #NayaRivera’s body was found is incredibly powerful — especially when you consider today is the 7 year anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death. I’m a mess. pic.twitter.com/RhY9hUb78E
— Dave Quinn (@NineDaves) July 13, 2020
While “Glee” fans have been reacting to the news of Rivera’s death with memories of the actress’s turn as Santana, who has been hailed for the queer Latinx representation she brought to the show, some of Rivera’s former castmates and other celebrities have been paying tribute to the woman they knew and loved.
“My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee,” writes Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams on “Glee.” “I legitimately can not imagine this world without you.”
My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you. pic.twitter.com/qX9t1Uhx01
— Kevin McHale (@druidDUDE) July 14, 2020
In the Twitter thread that follows, he goes on to write about his friendship with Rivera, and even about her talents as a mother.
“If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother,” he writes. “The way that she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful. I’m thankful that Naya got that beautiful little boy got back on that boat.”
He sums up the thread by sharing his love for his departed friend.
“For having such tiny body,” he writes, “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.”
Other castmates also chimed in across Twitter.
“Rest sweet, Naya,” writes Jane Lynch. “What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
“Thank you for what you gave the world,” writes Kristin Chenoweth, alongside a photo of Rivera embracing her son. “I love you.”
Thank you for what you gave the world. I love you. pic.twitter.com/CFNmwgtSva
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) July 13, 2020
Meanwhile, many fans have shared a video from “Glee,” in which Rivera’s character sings “If I Die Young,” acknowledging that the scene carries even greater significance now.
Much love to Rivera’s family and friends as they grieve.