After days of searching, authorities announced on Monday that they had found Naya Rivera's body in Lake Piru. The discovery was made several days after the Glee star was reported missing following a trip to the lake with her four-year-old son Josey, who has been safely reunited with his father, Rivera's ex-husband Ryan Dorsey. Following this tragic news, many of Rivera's former Glee co-stars have spoken out to offer tributes to their late friend. Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, the creators of Glee, have also spoken out regarding the news, sharing that they are creating a college fund for Rivera's young son.
The creators released a lengthy statement to The Hollywood Reporter in which they paid tribute to Rivera, whom they said was more than a co-worker as she was a dear friend to them. In their statement, they explained that the late actor wasn't originally a series regular on Glee when she was cast, but that they quickly learned that they "lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with." They went on to say that she was responsible for some of Glee's most show-stopping performances, such as "Valerie" and Songbird." The three added that her greatest contribution to the show was the "humor and humanity" that she brought to Santana Lopez and the character's relationship with Brittany Pierce (played by Heather Morris).
"Naya always made sure that Santana's love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions," their statement continued. "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." Murphy, Falchuk, and Brennan went on to say that Rivera was a total pro on the Glee set, adding, "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."
Despite the fact that the Glee cast and crew had their "ups and downs" over the years, the three will always have a special place in their hearts for Rivera, whom they said was family. They wrote, "Naya was more than just an actor on our show- she was our friend." The trio ended their statement by expressing their condolences to Rivera's family and especially to her mother, Yolanda, and her son, Josey. They also added that they are in the process of creating a college fund for Josey, "the beautiful son that Naya loved most of all."