Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan have announced they are creating a college fund for the four-year-old son of Naya Rivera, after an autopsy confirmed the 33-year-old star drowned in Lake Piru in California.
Issuing the statement via 20th Century Fox TV after Rivera was confirmed dead on Monday, they wrote: “We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera.”
“Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realise that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with.”
The statement continued, “Naya could act, she could dance, and she could sing (could she ever sing!) She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene. She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”
“Naya is responsible for numerous iconic Glee musical performances- The Adele Mash-Up, Valerie, Songbird- but her greatest Glee legacy is probably the humour and humanity that she brought to Santana’s relationship with her best friend and eventual girlfriend/wife Brittany (played by Heather Morris). It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time.”
“Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them. Naya’s obligation to them- and to all of her fans- was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.”
They continued, “Naya was a real pro. Always on time, always knew her lines (which wasn’t easy considering the giant mouthfuls of dialogue we often gave her), always kept everyone laughing on the set. She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous. There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee. We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, than we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show- she was our friend.”
“Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family and her son Josey. The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all,” the statement concluded.
Naya Rivera drowned in Lake Piru while boating with her son Josey, with authorities saying in Monday’s press conference that they believe Rivera died saving her son.
“We know from speaking with her son, that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey,” said Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub. “It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
“The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself,” he said.