'Glee' Stars Pay Tribute to Naya Rivera amid News of Her Death

Erica Gonzales
Photo credit: Dianna Agron / Instagram
Photo credit: Dianna Agron / Instagram

From Harper's BAZAAR

  • Naya Rivera's former Glee costars are honoring the actress, who was pronounced dead by authorities days after she went missing at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

  • Heather Morris, who played Rivera's love interest on the hit TV show, was reportedly seen at the lake with friends after offering to help in the investigation.

  • Other stars including Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Jane Lynch, and Alex Newell shared their condolences after police identified Rivera's body.

Stars of Glee are sharing their support and love for their former costar Naya Rivera, who was pronounced dead Monday after she went missing at California's Lake Piru last week. The 33-year-old actress had gone swimming with her four-year-old son, Josey Dorsey, at the lake last Wednesday but never returned. Her son was found safe but alone sleeping on the boat they had rented. Yesterday, after days of searching, a body was recovered at the scene, and authorities are "confident" it is Rivera's.

Ever since the actress's disappearance last week, fans, Glee viewers, and Rivera's former castmates have been sharing touching messages in her honor. The actress and singer starred as tough cheerleader Santana Lopez for six seasons on the hit TV series created by Ryan Murphy. Here are just some of the ways her costars have been paying tribute to her amid news of her passing.

Heather Morris

Morris, who starred opposite Rivera as Santana's best friend-turned-spouse, Brittany, offered to help police with the investigation over the weekend. "I'm Nayas close friend and co-worker, and I'm trying to conduct an on foot search and rescue mission along with a small group of friends at Lake Piru," she tweeted at the Ventura County sheriff on Sunday.

People also reported today that Morris was at the lake with friends. She was apparently spotted in footage from an ABC7 news report at the site, holding hands with a group by the water. Fans on social media believe the others include more Glee cast members, but that remains unconfirmed.

After news of Rivera's passing, Morris notified her Instagram followers that she's "taking a moment to honor my grief" and thanked fans for their "messages and prayers."

Grant Gustin

The Flash star, who played Sebastian Smythe on Glee, shared a tender photo of Rivera with her son on Instagram. "I was intimidated by her talent and presence on set, but she was always so kind and welcoming to me," he wrote. "So many of my Glee memories on and off set have Naya in them. She was one of a kind. My heart breaks for her family and friends."

Gwyneth Paltrow

The actress and Goop founder, who made recurring appearances on Glee as teacher Holly Holliday, shared a clip on Instagram of her singing "Landslide" with Rivera and Morris.

"Getting to sing in this trio with her was such a special moment," Paltrow wrote in the caption. "I am in utter shock and disbelief that someone so full of life and passion and talent is no longer with us. And completely heart broken for her family."

Matthew Morrison

Known as Will Schuester (or Mr. Shue) on the series, Morrison wrote on Instagram that "Naya was a such a powerful force, in both her personal life and in her work." He later added, "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."

Chord Overstreet

The actor who played ed Sam Evans on Glee remembered his first time meeting Rivera in his Instagram tribute. "You Walked straight up to me, grabbed me by the face and [dragged] me around until I met every single person on set, introducing me as 'new booty,'" he wrote. "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."

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Chord Overstreet (@chordoverstreet) on Jul 14, 2020 at 1:48pm PDT

Lauren Potter

Potter, who portrayed Becky Jackson on the show, tweeted a photo with Rivera and Morris from the series with the caption, "Cheerios Forever," referring to the name of their onscreen cheer squad. In an earlier tweet following news of Rivera's disappearance, Potter recalled how she had just spoken to her former costar on her birthday in May.

Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan

The trio who created Glee honored Rivera's legacy in a public statement and announced they're working on a college fund for her young son.

“She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene,” they said in a statement, per NBC News. “She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”

They also acknowledged the significance and legacy of Rivera's character Santana and her onscreen love with Brittany (Heather Morris). "Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions,” Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan added. "Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them."

Dianna Agron

Agron, who starred alongside Rivera as cheerleader Quinn Fabray, shared a behind-the-scenes photo with the actress and recalled their friendship both on the Glee set and beyond. In a loving Instagram caption, Agron revealed that she had been revisiting some of Rivera's performances and fondly remembering their 36-hour trip to Paris. She called the star her "first friend and ally on our show" and praised "her work ethic, her fearlessness, her talent."

"I cannot make sense of this tremendous loss," Agron concluded. "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."

View this post on Instagram

⁣⁣ 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.

A post shared by Dianna Agron (@diannaagron) on Jul 14, 2020 at 9:14am PDT

Glee

The show's official account shared a tribute to Rivera on Twitter. "Naya was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy," the post began.

Darren Criss

Criss, who played Blaine Anderson on the show, wrote that he was "gutted beyond description" over Rivera's passing. "I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends," he shared via Twitter thread. "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."



Amber Riley

On Instagram, Riley, Glee's Mercedes Jones, shared a video of Rivera sweetly singing with her son. "My favorite duet partner," Riley wrote. "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."

Kevin McHale

Known as Artie on the series, McHale tweeted that he "legitimately can not imagine this world" without his friend and costar. He recalled how seven years prior, he and Rivera leaned on each other when they learned of Cory Monteith's death and how just a week ago, he and the actress discussed going to Hawaii. Praising the actress's talent and humor, he remembered how she would memorize monologues the morning before filming and would make him "[grow] an ab muscle from laughing so hard." Read his whole thread here.

Later, McHale added, "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."

He also reminisced about Rivera's music taste and moments when they bonded over songs. "one of my most favorite recent memories with Naya was getting drunk at her house with her drink of choice, a martini, but actually just chilled vodka sans everything else," he wrote. "She put on @Jessiereyez, "Being Human in Public," and we sang at the top of our [longs] at least 3 times thru."

Harry Shum Jr.

Shum, who flaunted his dance skills as Mike Chang on Glee, wrote a letter to Rivera in which he said he's "failing miserably to process this news" of her death. "You deserved more," he added. "I'm so sorry but you deserved more."

Melissa Benoist

The Supergirl star, who played Marley Rose on Glee, wrote of Rivera in an Instagram post, "There was an undeniable beauty that she radiated inside and out, and I consider myself incredibly lucky that I got to witness that up close even for the short period of time that I did. I was so intimidated by her, yet she had a way of disarming that just made you want to be around her, hear what she had to say (because it would undoubtedly be the sharpest and most real thing you would hear all day)."

Becca Tobin

Tobin, who later joined Glee as head cheerleader Kitty Wilde, recalled how Rivera welcomed her when she arrived midway through the show. "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."

Jacob Artist

The actor who portrayed Jake Puckerman on the series remembered meeting Rivera for the first time. "I was a fish out of water and her warmth was disarming," he tweeted. "For all her gifts as a performer she was also gifted as a person and made anyone feel seen and included."

Lea Michele

The actress, who starred as Rachel Berry, shared black-and-white behind-the-scenes photos of Rivera, one of which included a group photo with other Glee stars. Michele also shared a photo of Monteith, who passed away seven years ago today.

Photo credit: Lea Michele / Instagram
Photo credit: Lea Michele / Instagram
Photo credit: Lea Michele / Instagram
Photo credit: Lea Michele / Instagram

Chris Colfer

Colfer, who portrayed Kurt Hummel, shared a moving tribute to Rivera on Instagram. Posting a black-and-white photo with the late actress, he wrote, "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."

Jenna Ushkowitz

"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," wrote Ushkowitz, who portrayed Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee.

"You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors," she added, captioning a sweet photo with Rivera. "I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you."

Jane Lynch

The actress who played Coach Sue Sylvester on the series tweeted heartwarming words for Rivera. "Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family," she wrote.

Alex Newell

Newell, who joined Glee in 2012 as Unique Adams, posted an uplifting note with Rivera's young son, Josey, in mind.

Max Adler

The actor who played football player Dave Karofsky expressed his sadness with emoji. He also referenced the significance of the date, which is Monteith's death anniversary.

Josh Sussman

Sussman, who made brief appearances on the TV show as Jacob Ben Israel, wrote, "Naya, you will be missed so much."

This story has been updated.

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