Tributes have poured in for Naya Rivera.

The 33-year-old actress, who was best known for her iconic role as Santana Lopez on Ryan Murphy’s musical comedy series Glee, went missing last week after renting a pontoon boat on Lake Piru, California, with her four-year-old son, Josey.

Her son was found alone in the boat with his lifejacket on. Josey told authorities that he and Rivera went swimming and that “his mum never made it out of the water.”

On Monday (13 July), after five days of searching, the Ventura County Police department recovered Rivera’s body.

In a press conference, Sheriff Bill Ayub said: “We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared. The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back into the boat, but not enough to save herself.”

“Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness,” wrote Glee star Chris Colfer.

“She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be.”

Kevin McHale also wrote: “She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago. She was the most talented person I’ve ever known and I’m furious we won’t get to see more.”

Glee fans took to social media to share how Rivera’s character, Santana, helped them come to terms with their sexuality.

“Glee’s lgbt representation was what made me accept myself,” wrote one fan. “Naya Rivera did what years of self assurance couldn’t, and i probably wouldn’t have been out and proud if it wasn’t for her.”

Another tweeted: “As a young queer Latina myself watching her fighting and supporting the lgbt community saved my life, I felt seen, the way she portrayed and fought for Santana Lopez impacted me.”

Rivera received critical acclaim for her performance as Santana, and the character’s same-sex romance with fellow cheerleader Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) is one of the most beloved LGBTQ+ relationships in television history.