On Wednesday, July 8, authorities reported the sad and shocking news of the disappearance of Naya Rivera. The beloved actress was declared missing after her four-year-old son Josey Dorsey was found alone in a boat they rented at Lake Piru.
According to a press release shared by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the actress’ son “told investigators that he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and he got back in the boat, but Rivera did not.” Investigators believed “Rivera drowned in what appears to be a tragic accident.” Therefore, the search for Naya turned into a “recovery mission” the next day.
The world was hopeful that the 33-year-old Glee star would be found alive between the trees, but unfortunately, authorities confirmed her tragic passing. “A body has been found at Lake Piru this morning. The recovery is in progress,” Ventura County Sheriff’s Office tweeted on July 13, 2020. Hours later, at a press conference, the body was identified as Naya’s. “We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera,” Sheriff Bill Ayub said, adding: “There is no indication of foul play and no indication this was a suicide.”
Today, a year after her death, Naya’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, opened up about the impact losing Rivera had on her and the rest of the family. “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 to ABC News. “All we know is we have each other.” According to Previtire, they are attending therapy sessions.
Yolanda also said she feels her late daughter all the time. “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.”
Nickayla Rivera, Naya’s younger sister, also shared with “Good Morning America“ that she 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 Rivera, also sent a message: “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.”
The Puerto Rican-descent actress was best known for portraying Santana Lopez on the hit series Glee. However, her career started when she was just a baby, appearing in commercials for Kmart. Rivera’s first acting job was in 1991 when she, at the age of four, secured the role of Hillary Winston on the CBS sitcom The Royal Family.
Between 1992 and 2002, when she was a teenager, she became part of the golden age of black sitcoms. Naya had roles in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, The Jersey, Live Shot, Baywatch, Smart Guy, House Blend, Even Stevens, and The Master of Disguise, and had a guest appearance on The Bernie Mac Show in 2002.
Her career skyrocketed in 2009 when she was cast as a high school cheerleader on Fox’s musical comedy series Glee. Naya’s final role will be released in 2021. The industry veteran did voice work as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in the upcoming two-part animated film, ‘Batman: The Long Halloween.” Warner Bros. announced the news on Wednesday that Rivera did voice work for both parts of the movie in early July, right before she passed.