‘Glee’ Cast, Other Stars Pay Tribute to Naya Rivera: ‘What a Force You Were’

Actress died while on an excursion with her son at Lake Piru in Southern California

Naya Rivera
Photo credit: Getty Images

As confirmation of Naya Rivera’s death spread, her former costars and friends took to Twitter to honor the late actress. She was 33.

Rivera died while on an excursion with her 4-year-old son at Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif. last Wednesday. Other visitors had noticed the young boy, Josey, alone in the boat and notified the authorities.

Josey was recovered unharmed. According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Eric Buschow, Josey said he and Rivera went swimming together but he got back in the boat and his mother didn’t. The search for Rivera lasted for five days, with specialist divers and sonar equipment brought in. Authorities confirmed to TheWrap her body was recovered Monday. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Starz and Lionsgate, the network and studio behind the “Step Up” TV adaptation, which Rivera was a lead on at the time of her death, said the following in a joint statement on Monday: “Our hearts go out to Naya Rivera’s family, especially her young child, in response to the tragic news of her passing. She was a vibrant and luminous talent who will always remain a very special part of our ‘Step Up’ family.  Her remarkable contributions to our industry created a lasting memory that will be carried forward by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.”

Fox broadcast network and 20th Century Fox Television, the network and studio behind “Glee,” said in a joint 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. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts go out to Naya’s family, friends and young son.”

Read the tributes to Naya Rivera below, led by her “Glee” castmates, below. Rivera portrayed Santana Lopez for six seasons on the show.

Amber Riley posted a clip of Rivera and Josey singing, and called her “my favorite duet partner.”


Chris Colfer posted a loving tribute on Instagram, calling Rivera’s beauty and talent otherworldly.


Lea Michelle, who starred as Rachel Berry on the musical series, honored Rivera along with Cory Monteith, who died in 2013 on July 13. She shared three simple, black-and-white photos to her Instagram Story: one of Monteith in a suit, a close-up of Rivera and a group photo on the beach.

Jane Lynch, who played Coach Sue Sylvester, tweeted, “Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”

Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams on “Glee,” posted a photo of him and Naya, writing, “I legitimately can not imagine this world without you.”

Max Adler, who portrayed football player Dave Karofsky, posted a string of broken heart and crying emojis.

Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins, also had a broken heart.

Added Alex Newell, “Now more than ever we must lift up her family. My heart is sent to them.”

Josh Sussman tweeted, “Naya, you will be missed so much.”

Read on for even more tributes:


Naya was also recognized for her contributions to the queer, latinx and immigrant communities