Amber Riley, Lili Reinhart, and Other Celebs Are Posting Heartfelt Tributes to the Late Naya Rivera

The 'Glee' star tragically drowned when swimming with her son.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Monday, July 13th, that Naya Rivera had tragically drowned. Since Rivera was reported missing last week, her former castmates, friends, and other celebrities have been posting heartfelt tributes, showing just how much Rivera has meant in their lives.

Rivera reportedly went swimming from a rental pontoon boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, in Southern California’s Lake Piru on July 8th. A search-and-rescue mission began later that day when people found Josey alone on the boat, asleep and wearing his lifejacket. He reportedly told authorities that they went swimming together, but that she did not get back on the boat. On July 10th, the search turned to a recovery effort. And today, July 13th, the sheriff’s office announced that a body was found in the lake and that it was confirmed to be Rivera.

Her friends and co-stars are posting their memorials to Rivera, and it’s clear that Glee star has meant so much to so many.

Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale co-starred with Rivera on Glee as Artie, and he posted a tribute to his friend that noted her “gigantic presence” on screen and in person. “My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you,” he wrote to open his heartfelt post.

Amber Riley

Amber Riley, who played Mercedes on Glee, called Rivera “my favorite duet partner.” Riley, understandably, wrote that she doesn’t “have words right now,” but she promised that her family “will never have to worry about anything.”

Tahj Mowry

Rivera appeared on Smart Guy alongside Mowry in the late 1990s, and she wrote in her memoir that he was her first kiss. In his tribute, which he posted before she was found, Mowry wrote that he’s always loved Rivera and he always will.

“We grew up together. We became adults together. We experienced so many firsts together,” he wrote. “You were my first experience with everything; love, intimacy, heartbreak. We broke each others hearts and then mended them back together…more than once. I will never not think of you.”

Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch played the domineering Sue Sylvester on Glee, and she remembered “what a force” Naya was, sending love and peace to her family.

Darren Criss

Darren Criss, another of Rivera’s Glee co-stars, says that Naya’s “gift” was that the “very thought of her cracks me up and brings a smile to my face.” He remembers just how funny the late actor was, and how bold, outrageous, and fun. As so many others have said, Rivera was a loyal friend and always took care of her family: ” She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now,” Criss wrote.

Demi Lovato

As Glee fans will recall, Demi Lovato played Santana’s girlfriend Dani for a stint in Season 5, and it’s clear that Rivera’s character was so important to her even before her time on the show. “The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted queer girls (like me at the time) and open queer girls,” Lovato wrote.

Adam Shankman

Rivera starred on the series adaptation of Step Up, Step Up: High Water, and executive producer Adam Shakman (who also worked on Glee) remembered her presence both on the set and off. Like so many others, he specifically remembered her laugh, her light, and how funny she was. “I keep pouring through the pictures of our years together, and all we seemed to do was laugh,” Shankman wrote.

He also recalled how Rivera always showed up for others, writing that he remembered her “saying yes to starring in @stepupseries at first as a favor and then becoming the mother of that whole cast and crew who loved and worshiped you.”

“You were that shows North Star,” he wrote. “And you always showed up. For every charity ask. You attended, have performed. You always showed up.”

Jenna Ushkowitz

Jenna Ushkowitz played Tina on Glee, and she wrote candidly about the nature of longtime friendships and how they come in waves, regarding her relationship with Rivera.

“I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you. I can not believe I took for granted that you’d always be here,” Ushkowitz wrote. “Our friendship went in waves as life happens and we grow, so I will not look back and regret but know I love you and promise to help the legacy of your talent, humor, light and loyalty live on.
You are so loved.”

Viola Davis

Viola Davis shared a picture of Rivera with her son, Josey, on Instagram to send prayers for the late actor’s family. “Man….can we have a ‘Do Over’ of 2020. The loss is too much,” she wrote in her caption.

Chris Colfer

Another of Rivera’s Glee co-stars, Chris Colfer, paid tribute to her on Instagram, noting that it was so difficult to convey everything he wanted to say and what he felt in one post.

“Her brilliance and humor were unmatched,” Colfer wrote. “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 honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.”

Lili Reinhart

Though Lili Reinhart notes that she never knew Rivera, personally, that she was crying and mourning her loss as a fan who grew up watching Glee, like so many of us. “Hold tight to your people right now, if you’re lucky enough to be near them,” she wrote.

Lena Dunham

In her tribute to Naya Rivera, Lena Dunham shared a video of Rivera’s character Santana’s performance of “Songbird,” calling it “perfect.”

“She shone so bright and was also unflinchingly honest,” Dunham wrote.

These tributes are just a tiny amount of the many across social media, showing just how bright a light Rivera shone for her friends, family, and fans.

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