Naya Rivera, Star of “Glee” Passed Away at 33

Naya Rivera at the "Judy" film premiere in 2019. Photo by Matt Baron/Shutterstock (10418869fm)

Naya Rivera, the actress who played Santana Lopez on Glee, passed away at the age of 33.

After a five day search and rescue mission, her body was found and identified at Lake Piru in Ventura County. She was identified as a missing person involved in a drowning at Lake Piru on July 8 after her 4-year-old son was found alone in their rented boat.

Sheriff Bill Ayub said that Naya and her son were swimming in the lake together and that it’s believed that she was able to get her son back into the boat, but she couldn’t save herself.

Rivera, best known for playing Santana Lopez on Glee, was part of the series from 2009 until the show’s finale in 2015. Along with the rest of the cast, she received several nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammys, and Teen Choice Awards.

She got her start in acting in commercials as a toddler and made her TV debut in CBS’s The Royal Family at the age of four. By the age of 10, she was in episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, Sinbad, and Baywatch. During her teen years, she was part of The Bernie Mac Show playing Donna from 2002 to 2006 before landing the role of a lifetime as Santana in Glee. Following Glee, she was in Devious Maids and Step Up: High Water.

Last year, Glee celebrated it’s 10th anniversary since it’s debut and Rivera posted on Instagram to mark the occasion saying, “blessed to have been a part of such an amazing show.”

“I’ve made lifelong friends, grew in my craft, and made some of the most beautiful memories because of Glee. I will always be grateful to Fox, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Dana Walden, and Gary Newman for believing in my talents and giving me the opportunity to share them with the world. I love all of our fans who are beyond amazing and saw a little piece of themselves in each one of the characters. Being a part of something special makes you special and ‘Glee’ will always have a special place in my heart,” she continued.