Tributes have been paid to former Glee star Naya Rivera, after her death was confirmed at the age of 33.
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.
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. pic.twitter.com/oCML03M9Kw
— Team Demi (@ddlovato) July 14, 2020
Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s on-screen girlfriend on the show, said she will “forever cherish” starring alongside her.
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”.
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.
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) July 14, 2020
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.”
Criss added: “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.”
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.”
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 had a recurring role in the show. She posted a series of pictures with Rivera and said she had been “praying for a miracle”.
Leakes wrote: “I wanted you to come home to your baby so bad. This hurts! I will hold the memories close to my heart and remember the good times, the laughs and the way we would cut up on set. Those were fun times! Please pray for Naya’s family.”
Figures from across the entertainment industry also paid tribute to Rivera.
Steven Canals is the co-creator of TV series Pose, which is set in the ballroom culture scene of the 1980s.
He praised Rivera’s portrayal of Santana, an LGBT character.
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 pic.twitter.com/UGq2rDwWay
— Steven Canals (@StevenCanals) July 13, 2020
9Canals said: “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.”
And pop star Bebe Rexha described Rivera’s death as an “absolute nightmare”.
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
— Bebe Rexha (@BebeRexha) July 13, 2020
She tweeted: “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.”