Born on Jan. 12, 1987 in Valencia, California, Naya Rivera began her acting and modeling career as a baby, but her first acting gig was at age 4 on The Royal Family, created by Eddie Murphy.
She appeared on various shows like Family Matters, The Bernie Mac Show and CSI: Miami. Her most notable role was on Fox’s song-and-dance series Glee, starring as Santana Lopez, a cheerleader in glee club. After Glee ended in 2015, Rivera went on to appear on season 5 of Devious Maids. In 2018, she landed the lead role in YouTube’s Step Up TV series. In May 2020, the series was renewed for a third season and moved to Starz.
Rivera dated Mark Salling during her time on Glee and was engaged to rapper Big Sean from October 2013 to April 2014. She married Ryan Dorsey in July 2014 and they welcomed their first child together, a son, in September 2015. However, they separated and finalized their divorce in June 2018.
On July 8, 2020, Rivera was reported missing after her 4-year-old son was found alone on a boat they rented at Lake Piru in Los Angeles. The actress had gone into the water with her son and he returned to the boat, while she did not. Her body was recovered from the lake on July 13, and she was declared dead. She was 33.