In 2016, the Step Up: High Water actress told Mini magazine that motherhood had made her "a much more observant person," adding that the part that surprised her the most was "how truly selfless you become."
"I hope to instill good morals and values in [Josey]," Rivera added. "I want to teach him to be confident but kind, strong but not proud, and to always be in love with life."
And all the challenges that came along with new motherhood were completely worth it for the star. "The love I get from him. Little things like the two kisses he stood up and gave me last night to say thank you for making him mac and cheese from scratch," she said. "It's a love never found anywhere or with anyone else."
Rivera, known for playing spitfire Cheerio Santana Lopez on Glee during the musical teen dramedy series' full run from 2009 to 2015, also opened up about parenting, growing up, her career, relationships and everything in between in her 2016 memoir Sorry Not Sorry.
As for whether she'd be up for a potential Glee reunion, the actress said with a laugh in November 2019 that she'd "love to see what Santana has been up to," predicting that her character — who helped pave the way for many in terms of LGBTQ+ representation on television — would "probably [be] a real-estate agent and a single mom, somehow, but still a lesbian."
Amber Riley Calls Glee Costar Naya Rivera's Disappearance "Devastating" as Kevin McHale Speaks Out
Rivera was reported missing on Wednesday after an outing with her son to the local Lake Piru. The two had rented a pontoon boat and were swimming in the water. After the boat was overdue for return following the three-hour rental, staff at the lake found it at the north side of the body of water with her son aboard, but not Rivera. Josey told investigators that his mother never got back into the boat after they had been in the water.
According to NBC Los Angeles, Josey was wearing his lifejacket when he was found asleep on the vessel. An adult lifejacket, believed to be the one provided to Rivera, was still on the boat. The police said the lake would remain closed to the public for the duration of the search — which shifted to a mission to recover Rivera's body by the following morning, as police had presumed her to be dead.
After the actress went missing, Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Eric Buschow told the Los Angeles Times that Josey was "in good health" after being found, adding, "The family is going through a very traumatic time right now."
Rivera's last post on Instagram was a close-up snapshot of her and her little boy sharing a sweet embrace and a smooch, shared one day before her disappearance. "Just the two of us," she captioned it.
Following her disappearance, a source told PEOPLE in part of Rivera, "Her son comes first. That's apparent in everything she's posted and done. Everything is about her son."
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