The Untold Truth Of Naya Rivera

UPDATE: On July 13, 2020, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office confirmed Naya Rivera's body has been recovered at Lake Piru. In a press conference, Sheriff Bill Ayub said, "We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera." 

The original story follows below.

After an exhaustive search throughout the waters of Lake Piru in Southern California, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department revealed that actress Naya Rivera likely drowned after her rented pontoon boat was discovered on July 8, 2020. According to the Washington Post, Rivera's 4-year-old son Josey was found asleep on the boat wearing his life vest alongside an adult life vest and Rivera's identification. While they don't suspect foul play, the authorities do believe Rivera has likely died after the two went swimming and she did not return.

"We're going on the belief that she did go in the water and we have not been able to locate her," Captain Eric Buschow said during a news conference. "So this may well be a case of drowning,"

Since the search for Rivera was set to resume "at first light," her fans and friends have taken to Twitter to express their hope that she'll be found safe and secure. Actress Jackée Harry, who starred alongside 4-year-old Rivera in the short-lived '90s sitcom The Royal Family, tweeted her call for prayers: "We starred alongside one another in her first very television series, The Royal Family, and I've watched her career blossom ever since. Please God, don't cut this life short."

While Deputy Chris Dyer told reporters they "hope for the best" and "prepare for the worst" (via CNN), we must all remember that Rivera's successful life cannot be erased by her potentially tragic death.

Naya Rivera gained widespread fame as Santana on 'Glee'

As news of Naya Rivera's disappearance spread across social media, the star's former former Glee cast mate Heather Morris shared her heartfelt plea in Instagram Story (per E! News). "We need all the prayers we can get to bring our Naya back home to us," she wrote. "We need your love and light."

Rivera and Morris co-starred as cheerleaders Santana and Brittany, respectively, on FOX's hit show from 2009 to 2015, where both gained widespread notoriety for their performance skills. Both gained special attention when their characters came out as lesbians after fans expressed interest in seeing Santana and Brittany's friendship evolve into something more.

"[W]e sort of took it lightly at first," Rivera told Vanity Fair in 2011. "But then we thought it was something people really wanted us to do, that it was something we should tackle." Feeling "fortunate" to play a "character on television that has meant so much to so many within the LGBTQ community," Rivera wrote those who were touched by her portrayal a "love letter" in which she thanked them for their support.

"We are all put on this earth to be a service to others," she wrote in a post published on Billboard, "and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."

Naya Rivera dated 'Glee' co-star Mark Salling before his arrest and apparent suicide

During her run as Santana Lopez on FOX's Glee, Naya Rivera briefly dated co-star Mark Salling, who played the character Puck. Rivera later revealed in her memoir Sorry Not Sorry that the pair broke up because his publicist claimed she wasn't good for his image (via People). However, it wasn't until after their split that Salling was arrested and charged for possession of child pornography.

"When Mark dumped me, I thought it was the worst thing ever," she wrote in her book, "but can you imagine if that didn't happen? And I was laying there in bed when the battering ram came through the door?"

"I think everyone should have that one relationship where you look back and ask yourself, 'What the hell was I thinking?' You'll learn something and you won't regret it. Unless, of course, that relationship was with someone who had a sizable stash of child porn on his computer," she added. "Then, by all means, regret everything."

However, shortly after Salling pleaded guilty, the disgraced actor died from an apparent suicide and now, as fans await news of Rivera's fate, many believe she's become the next victim of the so-called Glee curse, which supposedly claimed Salling and former co-star Cory Monteith. While a number of the hit show's former stars have succumbed to their unfortunate fate, we hope that Rivera's story doesn't have a similar ending.

Naya Rivera launched her music career alongside former fiancé Big Sean

In May 2011, Naya Rivera signed a deal with Columbia Records as she worked to launch a solo music career. However, it wasn't until September 2013 that Rivera released her first single "Sorry," which featured rapper — and future fiancé — Big Sean. Like so many modern romances, Rivera and Big Sean first met on Twitter. "I had followed him, and he sent me a little message like, 'I'm a fan,'" Rivera told Access Hollywood (per People). "We went to dinner and the rest is history."

Yet, while the two were "just so in love," they broke up months after getting engaged as rumors that he was cheating with Ariana Grande began to swirl. "After careful thought and much consideration, Sean has made the difficult decision to call the wedding off," Big Sean's rep told People. "The recent rumors and accusations reported by so-called or fake sources are simply untrue. Sean wishes Naya nothing but the best and it is still his hope that they can continue to work through their issues privately. We will not be commenting again on this matter."

Rivera later had to battle rumors that she'd been dropped from her label entirely for not releasing an entire album, as reported by Billboard. However, the rumors might've been true, as Rivera still does not have a full-length album to her name. For those who wish to hear Rivera's talent firsthand, look to the volumes of Glee cast recordings for her remarkable talent.

Naya Rivera's marriage to Ryan Dorsey ended after an alleged altercation

While Naya Rivera's marriage to actor Ryan Dorsey surprised fans, as it came on the heals of her separation from former fiancé Big Sean, many were even more shocked when Rivera was arrested for allegedly hitting her husband. According to People, Rivera was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in West Virginia when Dorsey called police to report that she was "out of control" and "getting physical" as the couple took their then-2-year-old son for a walk.

According to the police report, "Rivera began using profane language and yelling at him. Dorsey advised he continued pushing the stroller, not letting Rivera have control of it again. Rivera became irate and began to strike Dorsey, with a closed fist, in the face and back of the head." Dorsey alleged that Rivera's behavior might've been alcohol-induced.

While the charges against Rivera were eventually dismissed (Dorsey chose not to press charges), she announced their impending divorce soon after, emphasizing that their son, Josey, would always be their top priority as they worked out co-parenting arrangements. "It's always going to have its challenges logistically, but Josey is our priority. We're his parents," she told Momtastic. "If everybody looks at it that way it alleviates some of the drama. Doing what's best for Josey is really what it all boils down to."

Dorsey also spoke out about the matter on Twitter (via Entertainment Tonight): "This isn't some reality show, this is our life, and I ask that everyone especially 'the media' please respect our privacy and treat us/the situation how you would want a loved one to be treated. Perhaps with kindness, respect, without judgement, and as negative a situation this is, with positivity and love."

Naya Rivera's son Josey Hollis was her greatest success

In her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not SorryNaya Rivera said her son, Josey Hollis, was her "greatest success" and that she'll "never do any better than him." As Rivera told Mini Magazine, motherhood has been a challenge, but her son's love makes the struggle all worthwhile. "Little things like the two kisses he stood up and gave me last night to say thank you for making him mac and cheese from scratch," she said (via People). "It's a love never found anywhere or with anyone else."

When asked what surprised her most about motherhood, Rivera told Momtastic it was the unconditional love one develops for their child. "You hear about it and you think, 'Well, obviously I'm going to love my child.' But it's so deep," she explained. "Even after Josey goes to bed, I find myself thinking of him and looking at pictures of him and it almost brings me to tears half the time, because the love that I have for him is so amazing."

After Josey was rescued from the pontoon boat his mother rented, he told authorities that Rivera dived into the water, but never came out. As the search for Rivera turns into a recovery mission, we still can't help but hope Josey's mother will miraculously return safe and sound.

Naya Rivera's supposed feud with 'Glee' co-star Lea Michele was 'blown out of proportion'

For years, the media obsessed over the potential feud between Glee stars Naya Rivera and Lea Michele. While Rivera agreed that their "competitive" personalities often put them at odds, she said reports about their volatile relationship were constantly exaggerated.

"As the show progressed, though, that friendship started to break down, especially as Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time. I think Rachel — erm, I mean Lea — didn't like sharing the spotlight," Rivera wrote in her memoir Sorry Not Sorry (via E! News). "On top of that, she had a hard time separating work from our outside friendship, whereas it was a lot easier for me. Rivera added, "I'm not offended when people offer feedback or criticism, and if things get heated on set, I try to keep perspective. We're all stressed, yes, but we're all working toward the same goal, so laugh it off and keep it movin'. Lea was a lot more sensitive, though, and it seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong."

Rivera said Michele eventually began to ignore her. and the two women supposedly didn't speak as they filmed Glee's final season. While Rivera doubted that she and Michele would "ever sit on her couch and eat kale together again," she said rumors about their alleged feud were "blown out of proportion."

Was Naya Rivera actually fired from Glee?

As initial reports about her supposed feud with co-star Lea Michele grew legs in the press, rumors began to surface about Naya Rivera's future on Glee. In 2014, as the FOX hit TV show was about to wrap its fifth season, the New York Daily News reported that Rivera had been fired and would not return for the program's sixth and final season. Sources close to production claimed Rivera had been terminated after her feud with Michele allegedly began to interfere with day-to-day operations on-set. Us Weekly claimed "a major altercation" pushed everyone over the edge, forcing producers to fire Rivera because her jealousy toward Michele had become too distracting.

Rivera's rep pushed back, telling The Hollywood Reporter that the aforementioned reports were entirely false. "Any reports or rumors circulating that Naya Rivera was let go or fired from Glee are absolutely untrue. End of story," Rivera's rep said. Glee's producers also issued a statement at the time, stating there was "no truth to the rumor Naya has been fired from the show. She remains under contract to Glee."

While sources told Us Weekly that the two actresses were always "icy" toward one another, Rivera returned to her role as the iconic Santana Lopez for the series' final season, wrapping up her impressive 113-episode run without any outside interference.

Glee certainly concluded on a high note. According to Forbes, "Though they may not have won many awards and the show was never one of the most critically-loved programs on air, the show's cast hold the record for the most appearances on the Hot 100 of all time."

Naya Rivera isn't the first person to go missing at Lake Piru

Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow shared details at a press conference about the response to actress Naya Rivera's disappearance. Boaters reportedly took to the water three hours after Rivera and her 4-year-old son, Josey, went out for the day because the rental period had expired. That's when Josey was found on the pontoon and told authorities that his mother went swimming but never came back to the boat.

"I've been told Naya Rivera has been coming here for years and she is familiar with the lake," Buschow stated (per the Daily Mail). "This might be a little sanctuary for her, especially on a Wednesday — no one's here on a Wednesday so it's a good day to come. She rented the boat."

According to a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, Rivera isn't the first person to go missing at Lake Piru. At least seven people reportedly drowned between 1994 and 2000. Douglas West, Lake Piru's parks and recreation services manager at the time, told the L.A. Times that he'd experienced about a dozen drownings during his 23 years on the job. "The only thing I can emphasize is that if swimmers are around water," West said, "they need to wear a personal flotation device whether they know how to swim or not. That will save their lives." 

An adult life vest found on Rivera's pontoon. It's unclear at this time if she was wearing a life vest when she disappeared. 

Naya Rivera's disappearance prompted a campaign for safety precautions

In the wake of actress Naya Rivera's disappearance at Lake Piru on July 8, 2020, thousands have reportedly signed a petition calling for more signs warning visitors about Lake Piru's many risks, which include strong currents and debris beneath the surface. According to TMZ, the petition reads, "... people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers. Locals of Ventura County don't go to Lake Piru for this reason! Tourists have no idea what they're getting into. Lake Piru needs signs. We're tired of waiting. We need justice for all those who got lost at Lake Piru. Put up the signs."

In fact, Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dyer revealed that hazardous conditions hampered the search for Rivera. "We're talking during the day 8 to 10 inches of visibility in the lake, lots of debris, full-sized trees and debris under the water and varying depths," he said, per Page Six. "There's a lot of uneven terrain under the water which you guys don't see." Emergency responders took to the air, land, and water to search for the actress. "The goal is still to bring Ms. Rivera home to her family so they can have some closure," Dyer said.

Naya Rivera's social media posts take on deeper meaning

As fans and friends take to social media to express their disbelief over Glee star Naya Rivera's presumed death, many have also reexamined her social channels as they wait for word from the search and rescue team. While no one could have predicted Rivera's accident, some noted that some of the last posts before her disappearance seemed prophetic.

"No matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you're alive is a blessing. Make the most of today and every day you are given," Rivera captioned this selfie on Instagram. "Tomorrow is not promised."

Just one day before she and her 4-year-old son, Josey, embarked upon their ill-fated boat trip, the actress posted an image on Twitter that has seemingly taken on even more meaning in the wake of her disappearance. "Just the two of us," she captioned the photo of her cuddling Josey. 

The Daily Mail reported that Josey and his father, Rivera's ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, have been surrounded by family as they endure this tragic turn of events.

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