Naya Rivera's 'Glee' co-stars pay tribute: 'What a force you were'

Rivera's former co-stars honored her Monday, as authorities announced her body had been recovered.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

The stars of "Glee" are paying tribute to Naya Rivera after the Ventura Country Sheriff's Department confirmed Monday that the 33-year-old actor's body had been recovered at Lake Piru in Southern California after a dayslong search.

Rivera's "Glee" co-stars paid tribute to her after news broke Monday that her body had been recovered.JB Lacroix / WireImage

Rivera went missing last Wednesday after renting a pontoon boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey. Josey was found asleep alone on the boat Wednesday afternoon. The boy told authorities he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, but that his mother never came back into the boat. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said during a press conference Monday that "there is no indication of foul play" and that an autopsy would be performed.

Naya Rivera, in cheerleading outfit, in a scene with her "Glee" co-stars in 2012.Everett Collection

Rivera starred as Santana Lopez, a high school cheerleader who learns to embrace her lesbianism, for six seasons on the Fox series. Fans of the show noted on social media that Rivera's body was found on the seventh anniversary of the death of her "Glee" co-star Cory Monteith.

Actor and comedian Jane Lynch, who played William McKinley High School cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, wrote, "Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.

Jenna Ushkowitz, who played fellow Glee club member Tina Cohen-Chang on the show, wrote in a tribute to Rivera that she could not believe she had taken "for granted that you'd always be here."

"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," Ushkowitz wrote. "You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday."

Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel, shared a photo of himself with Rivera, writing, "Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness." He added, "She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor."

Darren Criss, who portrayed Blaine Anderson on the show, posted a photo of the late actor remembering her sharp wit.

"Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face," he wrote, in part. "And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it's a gift that will never go away. ⁣⁣Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel."

Alex Newell, who played Unique Adams on the series, wrote, "Now more than ever we must lift her family and friends up especially Josey! My heart is sent to them... Josey you are truly loved by every single person who loves your mommy! I love you Naya!"

Max Adler, who played football jock Dave Karofsky, posted several broken heart and crying emojis to sum up his feelings.

"Naya, you will be missed so much," wrote Josh Sussman, who played Jacob Ben Israel.

The show's main Twitter account also tweeted condolences.

"Naya was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy," the post said, in part. "We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to GLEE, from the first episode to the last."

Days before Rivera's body was found, singer Gloria Estefan, who played Santana's mother, Maribel Lopez, shared a photo of the actress. "Praying for a miracle for @nayarivera and her family, particularly her baby boy! 💔😢," Estefan wrote.