AS fears rise for missing Naya Rivera, details of the actress' tragic past have been unearthed.
Before shooting to fame on Glee in 2009, the 33-year-old battled an eating disorder and depression and later in life, grieved the deaths of two people close to her.
Naya – who is feared dead after going missing on a lake – discussed her rough upbringing in her searingly candid memoir, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up.
“I’ve done a lot of living,” the actress told People magazine in an interview about the book. “I’m a 79-year-old trapped in a 29-year-old’s body.”
Born to a 20-year-old struggling actress, Naya began acting in commercials and modeling at just seven months old.
Later on, she got into fights at school and was suspended twice before fifth grade.
The TV star explained that the first time was for making a "death threat" against another student.
"Johnny smells so bad, sometimes I want him to die," she wrote in a note to a friend.
The second time, she was removed from school after biting a girl.
Naya recalled: "That b**** Sarah got off scot-free, even though she'd started it!"
Her parents had a tumultuous on-off relationship and once split up because her dad had an affair while her mom was pregnant with her younger sister.
Amid this turbulent backdrop, Naya's acting work dried up and she stopped eating after spiraling into depression.
"It gave me something to think about all day, and it was a secret I could obsess over without anyone else knowing about it," she revealed.
The Santa Clarita native had developed anorexia by the time she reached high school.
“By the time I was a sophomore, I started feeling that what had begun as a game had maybe gone too far. I just avoided food at all costs,” she wrote in Sorry Not Sorry.
“If my mom had packed a lunch for me, I’d either trash it or find some excuse to give it away.”
Aged 15, she started helping her cash-strapped family out with money she made from commercials, after acting roles picked up again.
"I just think they didn't have any other choice," she explained. "I wasn't bitter about it at all."
Naya hit the big time in 2009 when she landed the role of ice queen cheerleader Santana Lopez in the musical series Glee, helmed by Ryan Murphy.
The star appeared in 113 episodes until the show ended in 2015.
Tragedy struck in 2013 when her costar Cory Monteith – who played Finn Hudson – died in a Vancouver hotel room following an overdose of heroin and alcohol.
Naya recalled the moment she found out about Cory's death and how the cast couldn't stop "bawling" during Glee's tribute episode to the actor.
She was asleep with her then-boyfriend, Big Sean, in a London hotel when a sobbing production member rang her with the news.
“I was shocked, and made him repeat it several times before it sunk in,” Naya remembered.
The cast had to film a tribute to commemorate Cory soon after the tragedy.
She said: "We barely got a moment to breathe at all. Everything just happened so fast."
"After one take several of us were bawling and trying to pull ourselves together when someone popped their head in the room and said, ‘At least you guys are acting, right? It’s not like it’s real life. Great job!'”
A year later, Naya married the father of her four-year-old son, Josey – Ryan Dorsey.
They had dated previously, but got back together in 2013 and tied the knot a year later in Mexico.
However, by November 2016 Naya had filed for divorce at Los Angeles Superior Court, citing "irreconcilable differences".
She withdrew the divorce petition in 2017 but filed for divorce once again in 2018, and the couple officially separated in June of that year.
It was a tough year for Naya, as her ex-boyfriend, Glee star Mark Salling died by suicide in 2018, after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
He had been awaiting sentencing after more than 50,000 images of child porn were found on his computer and a storage drive.
Mark was facing between four and seven years in prison and would have been required to register as a sex offender.
Naya and Mark dated for three years after meeting on the set of Glee and broke up in 2010.
In her memoir, Naya said she was't that surprised at the charges Mark faced.
"I can't say I was totally shocked," she said.
Who is Naya Rivera and when did the Glee actress go missing?
It was reported Naya was feared dead after going missing on a lake on July 9 – with her four-year-old son Josey found asleep and alone on a rented boat.
Ventura County Sheriff's deputies found the little boy shortly before 5pm on July 8, 2020 at Lake Piru, Southern California.
TMZ have confirmed that Naya was not on the boat, with sources telling the publication that Josey told authorities that his mother had "jumped into the water but didn't come back up".
Divers searched the lake until nightfall, but were unable to find the Glee actress.
Josey, whose dad is actor Ryan Dorsey, is now safe with family members.
Naya shot to fame in 2009 when she landed the role of the ice queen cheerleader, Santana Lopez, in Glee.
The FOX musical comedy and drama was an instant hit and propelled the cast into the spotlight.
"When Mark dumped me, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but can you imagine if that didn't happen? And I was laying there in bed when the battering ram came through the door?"
Naya went missing on Wednesday after going out on a rented boat with her son, Josey, to the notoriously dangerous Lake Piru in California.
Authorities found the little boy shortly before 5pm on Wednesday at the Southern California lake with Josey telling cops his mother had “jumped into the water but didn’t come back up”.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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