“Glee” Co-Stars, Celebrities, & Fans Share Tributes To Naya Rivera

Many people expressed how much Rivera’s character Santana, an openly queer cheerleader, meant to them on the hit series “Glee.”

Naya Rivera at the Giffoni Film Festival in 2013 | Getty Images
Naya Rivera at the Giffoni Film Festival in 2013 | Getty Images

Fans, celebrities, and former “Glee” co-stars are paying tribute to Naya Rivera in the wake of her tragic death. 

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Monday that authorities recovered the body of the 33-year-old actor and singer in Lake Piru after a six-day search. Rivera had rented a pontoon boat on the Southern California lake for her and her 4-year-old son, Josey, on July 8. 

When her rental time was up, a leasing agent found the boat drifting on the lake, with Josey asleep and alone. All of Rivera’s belongings were on the boat, and an adult-sized life vest likely intended for Rivera was also onboard. 

Josey told officials that he and his mom had gone swimming, and that Rivera had helped him onto the boat. But when he turned around, he said, he saw her going underwater. Sheriff Bill Ayub said Rivera “mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.” He also said there was no indication of foul play or suicide. 

Following Rivera’s tragic death, several “Glee” stars and fans gave heartfelt tributes to the actor, who for six seasons played Santana Lopez, an openly queer cheerleader on the musical show. 

Rivera’s death was confirmed by authorities on July 13, which is also the seven-year anniversary of her “Glee” co-star Cory Monteith’s death. Monteith died in 2013 of an accidental heroin and alcohol overdose. He was 31. 

Lea Michele, who played one of the series’ main characters, Rachel Berry, shared a tribute to both Monteith and Rivera in an Instagram story with black and white photos. Michele was dating Monteith at the time of his death. 

Heather Morris, an actor who played cheerleader Brittany S. Pierce and Santana’s love interest for most of the series, was in contact with authorities throughout the search for Rivera, she said on Twitter. 

Other “Glee” actors posted their own tributes for Rivera: 

Jane Lynch, who played Sue Sylvester: 

Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel:

Amber Riley, who played Mercedes Jones:

Alex Newell, who played Wade “Unique” Adams:

Harry Shum Jr., who played Mike Chang: 

Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams:

Kristin Chenoweth, who guest-starred on “Glee”:

Demi Lovato, who guest-starred on “Glee,” playing Rivera’s girlfriend:

Many people and advocacy organizations commented on the positive impact of Rivera’s character Santana on the LGBTQ+ community, also noting Rivera’s own contributions:

Other stars and entertainment acts including Viola Davis, the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and singers Khalid and Kehlani have also paid tributes to Rivera.