Eleven days ago, the alarming news came out that actress Naya Rivera had gone missing on a boat ride with her son on Lake Piru. Her body was found five days later. In this special, we look back at Rivera’s life and the heartbreaking circumstances surrounding her unexpected death.
Naya Rivera was born on January 12, 1987 and acted from an early age. She achieved success as a child star and was accompanied by her mother Yolanda, herself a model. Her father George also had connections in the industry. He worked for Disney and Universal Music, among others, but also had long periods of unemployment. As a result, the family (Rivera also had a younger brother and sister) was not always as wide.
Still, at some point, Rivera got to a point where she was less successful and considered quitting her acting career in Los Angeles and leaving for New York to study screenwriting. Her mother managed to change her mind. And fortunately, because Rivera (at the time 22) was soon offered to audition for a role Glee; a role that would change her life forever.
Rivera was best known for her role as cheerleader Santana Lopez in the popular musical series Glee. Initially, Rivera had only a supporting role, but when the makers saw her at work, they quickly decided to push her to the fore. Rivera received high praise for her portrayal of Lopez and was nominated for several awards. Her character was also one of the first Latin American LGBTI characters on television.
Rivera was reported missing on Wednesday, July 8. The actress had hired a boat that afternoon to take her four-year-old son Josey across Lake Piru, a large reservoir in California. When Rivera had not returned the boat in the late afternoon, the landlords decided to take a look. On the boat they found only Rivera’s four-year-old son. He was wearing a life jacket and was sleeping.
The authorities immediately pulled out with all their might. A large-scale rescue operation was launched; there was still some hope that the actress would still be alive. Unfortunately, the police quickly announced that they no longer assume this. Five days later, on Monday, her body was found after a difficult search.
This photo of the cast of #Glee gathering together at Lake Piru today where #NayaRivera’s body was found is incredibly powerful — especially when you consider today is the 7 year anniversary of Cory Monteith’s death. I’m a mess. pic.twitter.com/RhY9hUb78E
— Dave Quinn (@NineDaves) July 13, 2020
What exactly happened is still unclear. Josey told the police that his mother did not surface after a dip in the water. Police suspect that Josey swam with his mother and the two got into trouble due to a powerful undercurrent. Rivera would have had just enough power to push her son back onto the boat, but was unable to get herself to safety.
Rivera was only allowed to live to 33 years old.