After days of actively searching for her body in Southern California’s Lake Piru, local police officers have confirmed that the body of Naya Rivera has been found. It appears that Rivera died on July 8.
Last Wednesday afternoon, the 33-year-old took her son Josey to the lake with the intention of spending some time in the water. The family was seen heading out to the waters of Lake Piru, but hours later, the four-year-old was discovered napping alone on the boat his mother had rented for them. He later told concerned bystanders that he and Rivera had gone swimming in the water, but she didn’t surface from the depths.
The Ventura County police quickly launched an intensive investigation into Rivera’s disappearance, sending air and dive teams to search the area for any sign of her. Today, they found a body that they are confident belongs the Hollywood star, with representatives from the sheriff’s office sharing that they believe that the actress likely died from drowning in the lake. Rivera's body, which the police assessed did not suffer from foul play, will be examined by a medical examiner's office to confirm the identity using dental records.
Fans of the late star likely first encountered her as Santana Lopez, the resident mean girl with a heart of gold, on the FOX musical series Glee. After years of smaller roles on shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Even Stevens, and The Bernie Mac Show, Rivera joined the ensemble cast of Ryan Murphy’s project in 2009. On Glee, Rivera was a triple threat — her singing and dancing were just as noteworthy as her acting ability, earning her praise from Glee fans and critics alike.
Her character was one-half of one of the show’s most beloved queer couples (Heather Morris’ Brittany Pierce was her other half), and her relatable performance as a young Latina struggling to come to terms with her sexuality cemented Rivera’s place in LGBTQ television canon. During her run on Glee, the series racked up award after award; its accolades include six Emmys, four Golden Globes, five Satellite Awards, and 14 Teen Choice Awards. Rivera herself was nominated for several ALMA Awards and showed up frequently on many “best of” lists, a testament to her star power on the musical series.
As Rivera began to gain traction in Hollywood for her role on Glee, interest in her personal life also increased after her relationship with GOOD Music rapper Big Sean was announced to the public in 2013. The stars were together for more than a year, even getting engaged at one point, before things suddenly came to an end. In her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, Rivera revealed that the pair had not ended on a positive note, hinting that Big Sean had simultaneously dated Ariana Grande towards the final days of their relationship.
Months later, the actress tied the knot with Ryan Dorsey, a friend that she reconnected with after her dramatic breakup from Big Sean. In 2014, the couple wed in a secret ceremony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and months later, they welcomed their son Josey into the world. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last; after a domestic argument led to Rivera's arrest for misdemeanor domestic battery, the pair split in 2016.
Rivera is survived by her son Josey, her mother, and her brother.