How missing Glee star Naya Rivera was on the up before mystery boat accident


THE picture showed a mother nuzzled into her son’s neck, his tiny hand touching her face.

The caption read: “Just the two of us.”

Within hours of posting the photo, Glee star Naya Rivera went missing off a boat in California and is presumed dead.

Her four-year-old boy, Josey, was found on board, alone and asleep with his life jacket on. An adult life jacket was reportedly still on the boat in Lake Piru, near Los Angeles.

Josey is said to have told the authorities his mummy “jumped into the water but didn’t come back up”.

Naya’s car was found near the boat-rental company’s office with her handbag inside.

Police, who revealed she had been visiting the lake for years and saw it as her sanctuary, are calling the incident a “horrible accident”.

Their operation has moved from search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery.

One witness reported how little Josey did not seem to understand what was going on, and added: “They fed him, comforted him and kept him happy until his family arrived.”

Naya, 33, who played cheerleader Santana Lopez in the hit musical series, rented the boat at the reservoir at 1pm on Wednesday.

Nearly three hours later, another boater was concerned when he saw the vessel drifting and spotted the young boy on board.

County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt Eric Buschow said: “We’re going on the belief that she did go in the water, and we have not been able to locate her.”

Less than a week ago Naya, who divorced Josey’s father, actor Ryan Dorsey, 36, in 2018, posted an Instagram selfie with the caption, “Every day you’re alive is a blessing”.

She added: “Make the most of today and every day you are given. Tomorrow is not promised.”

After years of personal troubles, it seemed Naya had finally found peace.

She became a household name a decade ago with the E4 show about a musical theatre club at a US high school.

But her life had more than its fair share of ups and downs, from anorexia and an abortion to dating a disgraced co-star.

Naya, who was signed up to the same modelling agency as her mother Yolanda before she even took her first steps, appeared in supermarket and clothing store adverts as a baby and earned praise for her role in short-lived American sitcom The Royal Family when she was four years old.

Throughout her childhood, she notched up TV parts, including a stint on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.

Between roles she also worked as a telemarketer, nanny and shop assistant at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store.

She was also plagued with body-confidence issues.

At 18, when she gained access to the money she had earned throughout her childhood, her first purchase was a pair of boobs. She said: “My new boobs were a confidence thing, not a sexual thing.”

In her 2016 memoirs, Sorry, Not Sorry, she wrote: “People have a lot of opinions about plastic surgery, but more than ten years after I got my boobs, they still make me happy when I look in the mirror.

“It might have been the best 8,000 dollars I’ve ever spent.”

After her parents divorced, she battled an eating disorder as a teenager. At school, she was teased about a mole on her chin, which she later had removed.

She wrote: “I just hated everything about myself.”

At 22, she scored her coveted role on Glee, starring alongside Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele and Jane Lynch — and stardom came calling.

The first two series aired on E4 in 2010 and 2011, notching up 2.6million viewers — and making it Channel 4’s most popular import at the time.

The other four seasons were snapped up by Sky.

Naya paints life behind the scenes as wild, with the cast of twentysomethings having “the sex drive of bunnies and the bed-hopping skills of a polygamist cult”.

Each time a new character arrived, she wrote, it was “like fresh meat being dropped into a piranha tank”.

They often enjoyed riotous parties at the house shared by co-stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz, dubbed the “love nest”.

It was there they fed an unnamed cast member cannabis gummy-bears to get him high, and were then disappointed when he did not feel a thing. In 2010, just as Glee’s popularity was taking off, Naya fell pregnant with Ryan Dorsey’s baby.

The pair had recently split and Naya decided to have an abortion, something that haunted her afterwards.

She wrote: “I don’t think I ever emotionally healed from the abortion. You make that choice knowing, or at least suspecting, that many moments of your life will now be tinged with regret.”

During filming, she dated co-star Mark Salling, who played shaven-haired bad boy Puck. It was kept under wraps as his publicist thought it better for his image to be seen as single.

On their first date, he picked her up in “a complete piece-of-s**t car with trash just rolling around in the back seat”.

They got stoned, went to an In-N-Out Burger joint then on to a theme park.

She recalled: “I just focused on his biceps and tried to ignore the cloud of marijuana smoke billowing around my head.”

In 2015 Salling was charged with possessing indecent images of children.

He pleaded guilty and killed himself in jail before sentencing.

Two years earlier, the cast had suffered the tragic death of their much-loved co-star Cory Monteith, who played lead star Finn Hudson.

Naya, who had known about Cory’s past struggles with drink and drugs, described the pair as “bros” who could talk for hours.

In July 2013, she was in London with her fiancé, rapper Big Sean, when a call in the middle of the night told her 31-year-old Cory had overdosed on heroin.

She wrote of her devastation: “The only consolation I have is that I’ve always trusted that God has a plan for me, and he must have had one for Cory too, even if I don’t understand it.”

Lying next to her that night, according to her memoirs, Sean said, “Oh man, babe, I’m really sorry about that,” before rolling over and going back to sleep.

He featured on Naya’s debut single Sorry, but neither their relationship nor her music career lasted.

In July 2014, three months after their break-up, she married Ryan Dorsey, known for his role in the crime series Ray Donovan.

It was only after they reunited that she told him about her abortion of his child. She had insisted he sign a confidentiality agreement first.

Their son Josey was born in 2015. His birth inspired Naya to launch gender-neutral kids’ clothing company Jojo & Izzy.

In an interview last November, she revealed her delight when Josey had told her he wanted to be on TV after seeing her in Glee for the first time.

Naya first applied to end her marriage to Ryan in 2016 before they reconciled.

A year later, she was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery after allegedly hitting him in the face and head.

He later asked for the charges to be dropped. While still married to him, she hinted on the American version of Loose Women that she may be attracted to women, just like her Glee character.

When co-host Rosie O’Donnell reported on news that bissexual women are more likely to suffer mental-health problems, Naya quipped: “Rosie, no wonder I’m crazy. This just solves it all.”

She had previously said she had never dated a woman.

Distraught fans were praying she would be found and tens of thousands had signed a petition urging authorities to continue their search.

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