Naya Rivera is "deeply saddened" by the death of her 'Glee' co-star Cory Monteith.

The 26-year-old actress has spoken for the first time about the passing of the 31-year-old actor - who was found dead in his hotel room in Vancouver, Canada, on Saturday (13.07.13) - and insists he was a "special part of this world" who will "forever be missed".

Naya - who plays Santana Lopez in the musical drama series - said in a statement: "The entire 'Glee' family and I are deeply saddened by this tragedy.

"Cory was and always will be a part of my own family and a good friend. He was a special part of this world and will forever be missed."

Naya - who has starred opposite Cory (Finn Hudson) since the first series of 'Glee' - also paid tribute to her co-star and the late actor's girlfriend Lea Michele (Rachel Berry).

She added: "My heart goes out to Cory's family and Lea and while we are grateful for everyone's well wishes, privacy during this time of grief is greatly appreciated."

Lea is yet to release a statement following the death of her boyfriend of more than a year, but her representative admitted the brunette beauty is "devastated".

A spokesperson for the 26-year-old actress has issued a statement saying: "We ask that everyone kindly respect Lea's privacy during this devastating time."