NAYA Rivera was an actress who shot to stardom after she appeared on Glee from 2010-2015.
The 34-year-old was tragically found dead after a search mission was launched to find her body in a California lake in July 2020.
What is Naya Rivera's background?
Originally a child star, the 34-year-old actress got her first big break in the US sit-com, The Royal Family – not to be confused with Britain's The Royle Family.
The actress landed the role of Hilary Winston in the show at the age of four, starring opposite legendary actor and comic, Redd Foxx.
Naya's next big break didn't come until 2010 when she landed the role of the ice queen cheerleader, Santana Lopez, in Glee.
The Fox musical comedy and drama was an instant hit and shot the cast to worldwide fame.
Who did Naya Rivera play in Glee?
In 2010 Naya landed the role of the ice queen cheerleader, Santana Lopez, in Glee.
Santana was developed by Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan.
She was introduced alongside Quinn and Brittany as one of the three most popular cheerleaders at the William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio.
She joins the school's glee club, and soon is spying on it for Sue Sylvester, coach of the cheerleading team the Cheerios.
As the season continues, she becomes more sympathetic to other glee club members.
She has a number of romantic relationships, dating Puck, taking Finn Hudson's virginity, and carrying on a friends with benefits relationship with Brittany.
Santana's role flourished during the show's first season.
In the second season, Naya became a series regular and Santana was given more high-profile story lines.
One big line was the development of her romantic feelings for her best friend Brittany Pierce and the realisation she is a lesbian.
Naya received widespread praise for her portrayal of Santana.
How did Naya Rivera pass away?
On July 8, 2020, Naya Rivera was found dead five days after she went missing underwater during a lake trip with her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, whom she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.
The actress' body was discovered floating near the surface of California’s Lake Piru, which officials believe may have been tangled in plants and was therefore concealed from divers searching for her.
Rivera's little boy Josey, 4, told police his mum "boosted him onto the deck of their rental boat from behind" before he "saw her disappear under surface of water" after they went swimming.
Police say in her final moments, the Glee star acted desperately and "mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself".
She and her son had climbed off the boat and gone swimming, after they were last pictured arriving at the lake in a black 4×4 vehicle and taking her son from the back seat before walking to the pontoon.
Young Josey was found asleep in his life jacket on their pontoon but there was no trace of the 33-year-old.
A woman called emergency services after her husband discovered the four-year-old, mistakenly identified as a girl.
In the call – which was released to the public by police – the woman is heard saying: "The emergency is we found a little girl in a boat all by herself and her mum is nowhere to be found."
Speaking at a news conference, Ayub said her body was found in the northeastern portion of the lake – which is 60 ft deep – and an "empty canyon" of growth.
"We believe she was concealed within some of the shrubbery on the floor bed of the lake," Ayub said, adding that investigators didn't believe any foul play was involved.
"The boat started drifting… she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself," the sheriff told reporters.
Ventura County Sheriff's Office sergeant Kevin Donoghue said that after speaking with Rivera's son Josey, they "have no reason to believe she took her own life."
On September 29, 2020 it was reported that Naya's sister Nickayla Rivera had "moved in" with Ryan and Josey to help look after the child.
Speaking of Nickalya's help, Dorsey spoke out in an emotional Instagram video, saying:
"It's a temporary situation. After all that he's had to go through how could you deny him that? Because of what?" he explained.
"What some strangers might think or say, or spew some hatred based on some ill-advised, ill-logical, misinformed tabloid?"
The Ray Donovan actor later added: "To have a young woman who is his blood, his Titi, who is willing to put her life on hold and sacrifice things, uproot her situation for the betterment of your child."
The Ray Donovan star and Naya divorced in 2018 after she cited “irreconcilable differences” according to TMZ.
What did Naya Rivera's mother say about her passing?
A year on from Naya's passing on July 8, 2021, Yolanda Previtire, Naya's mother, told ABC News' Juju Chang and "Good Morning America" that the grief from her death was too much to handle.
"Sometimes we're afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we're afraid for our own self, 'cause this is hard. There are no words to describe what we're going through," Yolanda said. "All we know is we have each other."
"I feel Naya's energy constantly telling me, 'Mom, be happy. Don't cry. I'm OK. Go get Josey. Have fun.' And I feel that it's coming from her," she said. "I literally wake up every morning, and it's almost like a restart button, and I have to shake it off … one foot at a time," she said. "And here we are."
Recalling the last time she spoke to Naya, Yolanda explained the pair video chatted on the day of their lake adventure.
"I missed two of her FaceTime calls, and I called her back. And we had a beautiful conversation. The sun was kissing her face and she was just beautiful," she said, her voice breaking. "She had a white, beautiful swimming suit on and she was glowing."
Later that day, detectives turned up at Yolanda's door to inform her that Josey was safe, but Naya was missing.
"It was almost like a force. I don't know what it was, but I literally was just pushed backwards. I just ran backwards, if you can imagine, just screaming and I ended up in the bathroom. I slammed the door, I was on the floor and I had to gather myself," she said.
Naya's little sister Nickayla told "GMA" that the five day search for her body was "absolute hell."
A year on, she revealed what keeps them going is taking things "one day at a time."
"And taking that one day at a time and living it to the fullest, loving each other to the fullest, and not regretting anything," Nickayla said. "Because I know if we could go back, we'd hug a little bit harder."
Naya's little brother Mychal followed on from his sister's sentiments, saying: "One year without you, one year closer to when we will meet you again. Your endless energy lives on. May you continue to rest so graciously, Naya."
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