• Naya Rivera (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
"Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly."
SBS staff writers

14 Jul 2020 - 11:48 AM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2020 - 12:43 PM

Fans and former colleagues of actor Naya Rivera, best known for her role as Santana Lopez on Glee, have taken to social media to pay tribute to the star after she was confirmed dead at the age of 33.

Rivera was initially identified as missing at Lake Piru in California on July 8, with her  four-year-old son found alone on the pair's rented boat. After an extensive five day search and rescue mission, a body was located and identified on Monday, with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office sharing the tragic news at a press conference.

“He and Naya swam in the lake together,” Ayub said of Rivera and her son.

“It was during that time that her son described being helped onto the boat by Naya. He told investigators he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.” 

The Sheriff added: “We believe that she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat, but not enough to save herself.”

Former Glee cast members were photographed linking arms with Rivera's family on the shore of Lake Piru, later sharing their own touching eulogies on social media.

"How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post?" wrote actor Chris Colfer

"How can you summarise a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone?"

He continued: "If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly.

"She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honour and a suit of armour.

"Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be."

Tony Award-winning producer, actress, singer and podcast host Jenna Ushkowitz, who played the role of Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee, shared a moving post on her Instagram account.

"There are no words and yet so many things I want to say, I don't believe I'll ever be able to articulate exactly what I feel but... 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," she wrote.

"You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors. I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you.

"I cannot believe I took for granted that you'd always be here. Our friendship went in waves as life happens and we grow, so I will not look back and regret but know I love you and promise to help the legacy of your talent, humour, light and loyalty live on.

Meanwhile, fans shared how much Rivera's role on Glee meant to them.

"Growing up, Glee meant a lot to me because Santana and Brittany’s relationship was the first time that I had ever viewed LGBT representation in the media," one Twitter user wrote.

They added: "Still, Naya was more than a character and my heart aches for her family and friends."

According to Variety, Rivera is survived by parents Yolanda Rivera and George Rivera; younger brother Mychal; sister Nickayla; and her son Josey Hollis Dorsey, with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.