Naya Rivera Dead at 33: Actress' 'Glee' Co-Stars and Friends Pay Tribute

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Naya Rivera's loved ones are paying tribute to the late actress and sending their condolences after her tragic death.

Rivera was pronounced dead on Monday, as her body was discovered following a five-day search. She was reported missing last Wednesday after she took a boat ride with her 4-year-old son, Josey, in Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County, California. The Sheriff's Department told NBCLA that Rivera and her son rented a boat at around 1 p.m. but approximately three hours later, another boater discovered Josey in the boat by himself. TMZ reported that Josey told authorities that his mother went into the water for a swim, but never returned to the boat.

Rivera, who played Santana Lopez on Glee, was just 33 years old. Both her famous friends and fans are speaking out about the tragedy, including her Glee co-stars.

Chris Colfer, who portrayed Kurt Hummel on Glee, wrote, "How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor 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 honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be." 

"?Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son," he concluded. 

"Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were," Jane Lynch, who played Sue Sylvester on Glee, tweeted. "Love and peace to your family." 

"My heart is broken," Alex Newell, who played Unique Adams, wrote. "I truly had soo much fun filming this little segment... we both clearly didn’t wanna be there but made the most of it! Naya was truly a star.. one day as I was coming out of hair and make up I saw her sitting at base camp and she said “Alex... when you go on tour can you please say ‘everybody say heeeyy Ms. Newell’’ just for me!” I said absolutely we laughed and had a short little convo about life and music.. I’ll cherish that moment for ever!! I watched her preform with such power, brilliance, and honesty.. While being a light as a person! The love she had for her family and friends was always clear! She will truly be missed! Josey you are loved by all the people who love your mother! My thoughts and prayers are with her family! Rest Sweet Angel." 

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My heart is broken.. I truly had soo much fun filming this little segment... we both clearly didn’t wanna be there but made the most of it! Naya was truly a star.. one day as I was coming out of hair and make up I saw her sitting at base camp and she said “Alex... when you go on tour can you please say ‘everybody say heeeyy Ms. Newell’’ just for me!” I said absolutely we laughed and had a short little convo about life and music.. I’ll cherish that moment for ever!! I watched her preform with such power, brilliance, and honesty.. While being a light as a person! The love she had for her family and friends was always clear! She will truly be missed! Josey you are loved by all the people who love your mother! My thoughts and prayers are with her family! Rest Sweet Angel..

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Kristin Chenoweth, who was April Rhodes on Glee, shared a photo of Naya and her son, writing, "Thank you for what you gave the world. I love you."  

Becca Tobin, who played Kitty Wilde, wrote, "Naya was insanely talented, breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, but the legacy she left behind for me is her kindness. I joined the cast of Glee in the third season and as the newcomer, I was intimidated and terrified. The cast was already such a tight-knit group who had been working incredibly hard together for over three years to make it a hit show and I never expected any of them to have time for me. To my surprise, Naya, one of the most beloved by the rest of the cast (and the entire world), showed me instant warmth and kindness. She invited me to parties and gatherings and was always there to give advice. She was a superstar who had nothing to gain from being kind to the new girl, but she was and that changed this new girl’s entire experience on that show. I will forever be grateful to that beautiful human. My heart goes out to her family and her sweet boy. ❤️." 

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Naya was insanely talented, breathtakingly gorgeous, and one of the wittiest people I’ve ever met, but the legacy she left behind for me is her kindness. I joined the cast of Glee in the third season and as the newcomer, I was intimidated and terrified. The cast was already such a tight-knit group who had been working incredibly hard together for over three years to make it a hit show and I never expected any of them to have time for me. To my surprise, Naya, one of the most beloved by the rest of the cast (and the entire world), showed me instant warmth and kindness. She invited me to parties and gatherings and was always there to give advice. She was a superstar who had nothing to gain from being kind to the new girl, but she was and that changed this new girl’s entire experience on that show. I will forever be grateful to that beautiful human. My heart goes out to her family and her sweet boy. ❤️

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Kevin McHale shared an emotional tribute, alongside a photo of himself and Rivera smiling and standing side by side. "My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you," McHale wrote. "7 years ago today, she and I were together in London when we found out about Cory. We were so far away, but I was so thankful that we had each other. A week ago today we were talking about running away to Hawaii. This doesn’t make sense. And I know it probably never will."

"She was so independent and strong and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend. She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago verbatim. The amount of times she would memorize all of those crazy monologues on Glee the morning of and would never ever mess up during the scene… I mean, she was clearly more talented than the rest of us," McHale's tribute continued, in part. "She was the most talented person I’ve ever known. There is nothing she couldn’t do and I’m furious we won’t get to see more."

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My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you. • 7 years ago today, she and I were together in London when we found out about Cory. We were so far away, but I was so thankful that we had each other. A week ago today we were talking about running away to Hawaii. This doesn’t make sense. And I know it probably never will. • She was so independent and strong and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend. She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago verbatim. The amount of times she would memorize all of those crazy monologues on Glee the morning of and would never ever mess up during the scene… I mean, she was clearly more talented than the rest of us. She was the most talented person I’ve ever known. There is nothing she couldn’t do and I’m furious we won’t get to see more. • I’m thankful for all the ways in which she made me a better person. She taught me how to advocate for myself and to speak up for the things and people that were important to me, always. I’m thankful for the times I grew an ab muscle from laughing so hard at something she said. I’m thankful she became like family. I’m thankful that my dad happened to have met her weeks before I did and when I got Glee, he told me to “look out for a girl named Naya because she seemed nice.” Well dad, she was nice and she became one of my favorite people ever. • If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother. 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 back on that boat. I’m thankful he will have a strong family around him to protect him and tell him about his incredible mom. I just hope more than anything that her family is given the space and time to come to terms with this. For having such tiny body, 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.

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McHale also tweeted that he felt Monteith had a part in finding Rivera. "I'm not religious by any means, but you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that Cory didn't help find our girl today," the 32-year-old actor, who played Artie Abrams on Glee, wrote. "These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another. So nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people."

While Lea Michele, who played Rachel Berry on the Fox series, did not post a message about Rivera, she did share a never-before-seen photo of her Glee co-star on her Instagram Story. 

Naya Rivera
Lea Michele/Instagram

As for Dianna Agron, who portrayed Quinn Fabray on Glee, she shared a photo of her and Rivera on Instagram, writing in part, "I cannot make sense of this tremendous loss. I will hold onto her and these memories for the rest of time, alongside our Glee family. Please hold space for her, her family, her beautiful boy. ⁣⁣In absolute, loving memory."

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⁣⁣ Naya and I fell into stride with such ease, she was my first friend and ally on our show. In the pilot, our characters came and went with such swiftness. Our enthusiasm brimmed with all of the unknown. We tried to grasp what the other cast members must be feeling as we were working in such separate manners. We dared to dream. What if this show worked? Wouldn’t that be something? Something was brimming, it was palpable. And thank god it worked. Naya’s magnetic talent was going to be unleashed, we just didn’t know it yet. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I’ve been revisiting Naya’s performances on our show and it has brought me great joy. To work with her was a gift. There was a great deal to absorb - her work ethic, her fearlessness, her talent - supreme. Naya had a laugh that would envelop you and hold you captive. She was mesmerizing. That twinkle in her eye, her luminous smile. Naya lead with truth, humor, wit. I loved her for all of these reasons. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I loved her sense of curiosity and wanderlust. I was lucky enough to be her travel partner for some of my most favorite adventures. As I write this, I’m grinning with swelling memories of a spontenaous 36 hour excursion - one might even say diversion - to Paris. With Naya, everything was possible and would often simply unfold before us, almost magically.⁣⁣ On this particular jaunt, within ten minutes of checking into our hotel, we found ourselves strolling the halls of L'École des Beaux-Arts, sipping wine from paper cups with students showcasing their latest work. It was fantastic. We were united in our commitment to discovery. And there was always a list of cleverly curated ideas in Naya’s back pocket, should we need it. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I cannot make sense of this tremendous loss. I will hold onto her and these memories for the rest of time, alongside our Glee family. Please hold space for her, her family, her beautiful boy. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In absolute, loving memory.

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Amber Riley, who was Mercedes Jones on the Fox series, posted a video of Rivera and her son singing. "My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything," she captioned the video.

Read more reactions below:

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Naya was a such a powerful force, in both her personal life and in her work. While so many of us were trying to find our voice, Naya’s was clear and resolute.  When she spoke, you would embrace every last word. And when she sang, she would let you into her soul. Glee acted as only a snippet of her life that we all, thankfully, had the honor of witnessing.  But Naya would shine brightest when surrounded by her wonderful family.  A common passion we both shared recently was that of our roles as parents. Naya was fervent about motherhood and had a steadfast love for Josey.  It is that powerful love that ensures us that her story does not end here. I’m confident that her positive influence will be continuously felt, and that her beautiful spirit will carry on in the lives of so many. I’m devastated by this immense loss.  This week has been long and trying with much praying and hope. I find some solace in closure, but the pain I feel for her and her family cannot be measured.  Rest in peace, keep shining down on us with your bright light.

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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.⁣ ⁣ 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 savored every chance I got to hear her sing. I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see.⁣ ⁣ I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. 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.⁣ ⁣ 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. ⁣ ⁣ Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.

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There are no words and yet so many things I want to say, I don't believe I'll ever be able to articulate exactly what I feel but... Naya, you were a ⚡️ force and everyone who got to be around you knew it and felt the light and joy you exuded when you walked into a room. You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors. 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. 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. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday. I miss you already.

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Naya The world is at such a loss and I am truly heartbroken. I still remember the day I met you. You Walked straight up to me, grabbed me by the face and drug me around until I met every single person on set, introducing me as “new booty”. You were one of the first people who made me feel like family when others saw me as an outsider. I didn’t know then that you would become my family and that’s just who you were to everyone.. A Mother, Sister, Daughter and most of all a friend. Your massive heart and bright spark is what carried our entire show, when at times we all felt like giving up. You always showed up for me when I needed some wisdom or was down and just needed someone to talk to. You took care of everyone around you in a way that was so warm and comforting and you sure knew how to throw a hell of a party! I always admired your bravery and passion to fight for what’s right even when it seemed like you were up against the world. Your spirit is contagious and you continue to make everyone you have touched a better and stronger person by knowing you. My favorite part of glee was getting to watch you perform and shine up close every day. You really were the pulse of that show. Anyone who was blessed enough to see and experience your raw talent knows it to be true. You’re one of the smartest and most gifted people I have ever met. There is no one like you and there never will be. You have changed peoples lives all around the world and you continue to change mine forever. I will never forget your love and kindness. Thank you for sharing your spirit Angel. I will miss you always. I Love you Naya

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Back in September 2016, Rivera sat down with ET to discuss her memoir -- Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up -- and candidly talked about a few of her deeply personal life experiences.

Watch the video below for more:

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