Naya Rivera

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Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera in awards.jpg
Rivera in 2012
BornNaya Marie Rivera
(1987-01-12) January 12, 1987 (age 27)
Valencia, California, United States
OccupationActress, singer-songwriter, model
Years active1991–present
Partner(s)Big Sean (2013–present)
Musical career
GenresPop, R&B
Associated actsBig Sean, Jaden Michaels, Lea Michele
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Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera in awards.jpg
Rivera in 2012
BornNaya Marie Rivera
(1987-01-12) January 12, 1987 (age 27)
Valencia, California, United States
OccupationActress, singer-songwriter, model
Years active1991–present
Partner(s)Big Sean (2013–present)
Musical career
GenresPop, R&B
Associated actsBig Sean, Jaden Michaels, Lea Michele

Naya Marie Rivera (born January 12, 1987)[1] is an American actress and singer, known for playing Santana Lopez on Fox Broadcasting's musical comedy-drama television series Glee. In 2011, Rivera signed a recording contract with Columbia Records to release her debut album. The lead single "Sorry" was released on September 17, 2013, featuring her fiancé Big Sean.[2]

Early life[edit]

Rivera was born[1] and raised in Valencia, Santa Clarita, California, and has lived in or around Los Angeles for most of her life. Rivera is of half Puerto Rican, a quarter African American, and a quarter German descent.[3] Her parents are George and Yolanda Rivera.[4] Her brother is NFL tight end Mychal Rivera.[5] Her younger sister is runway model Nickayla Rivera.[6] At eight or nine months old, Naya began to be represented by the same talent agent as her mother, who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue modeling.[7]


1991–2008: Career beginnings[edit]

As a baby, Rivera appeared in commercials for Kmart, but her first significant acting job was at the age of four when she appeared as Hillary Winston in The Royal Family sitcom in 1991.[7] The show received positive reviews and high ratings initially, but after star Redd Foxx suffered a sudden heart attack on set, the show was soon canceled.[8] Rivera received a Young Artist Award nomination for her performance in the series.

Between 1992 and 2002, she had small roles in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, Live Shot, Baywatch, Smart Guy, The Jersey, House Blend, Even Stevens and The Master of Disguise. In 2002 she also appeared in the music video for B2K's "Why I Love You". She was hired for a single episode guest appearance on The Bernie Mac Show in 2002, but she was brought back to work on a further ten episodes throughout all five seasons.[9] She was later featured in episodes of 8 Simple Rules and CSI: Miami.[7][10] In between auditions and roles, Rivera worked jobs as a telemarketer, a nanny and a greeter at an Abercrombie & Fitch store.[11] In 2006 and 2007, Rivera took part in a production of Mark E. Swinton's play, U Don't Know Me: The Musical, both in Los Angeles and when the production was taken on national tour.[12]

2009–11: Breakthrough and acclaim with Glee[edit]

In 2009, Rivera was cast as Santana Lopez, a high school cheerleader, on Fox's musical comedy series, Glee, about a high school glee club. Rivera's character comes off as a cold-hearted and vicious cheerleader, who often shows her softer side to fellow cheerleader Brittany (played by Heather Morris). Rivera auditioned for the opportunity "to sing, dance and act all in the same show," and because she was a fan of co-creator Ryan Murphy's previous work on Nip/Tuck.[10]

Rivera drew on her own high school experience of unpopularity to prepare for the role, as well as watching films such as Mean Girls to "really get in the zone and feel like a bitchy Sophomore".[13] She has described Santana as "your typical high school cheerleader, for the most part,"[13] explaining: "She's really mean and loves boys. She's really witty so I love playing her."[13] She has characterized Santana as "a bit of a bad girl" who is "really snarky and always has these really witty one-liners she throws out there."[14] Rivera enjoys the fact Santana is competitive and headstrong as she herself shares those traits, but dislikes Santana's mean streak.[15] She finds the show's pacing challenging, especially the dancing, and commented in June 2009 that her most memorable moment on Glee was performing the Cheerios' glee club audition piece, "I Say a Little Prayer".[13] Santana played a more prominent part in the last nine episodes of Glee's first season.[16] Rivera commented: "Santana's been wreaking havoc with people's boyfriends and people's babies and teachers—she's the high school terror, and she's going to continue to be the villain."[17]

Rivera at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010

After having her screen time and musical involvement increased in the second half of the first season, Rivera was promoted to official series regular status as of the beginning of the second season.[18] She was given her first solo in the fifth episode of season two, "The Rocky Horror Glee Show", and performed several others as the season progressed. During the second season, Rivera's role in the show was radically changed when it was revealed that her character was a lesbian. Rivera portrayed Santana struggling to come to terms with her sexuality, with her love for her best friend, and with her inability to come out of the closet. She received favorable reviews for her performance.[19][20]

In January 2011, Rivera appeared in a parody of "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", called "Nuthin' But a Glee Thang", co-written by Glee co-star Heather Morris.[21]

In July 2011, Rivera was nominated for two ALMA awards, in the categories of "Favorite Female Music Artist" and "Favorite TV Actress—Leading Role in a Comedy".[22] Rivera received a great amount of critical praise for both her acting and her singing performances in the latter part of Season Two and the beginning of Season Three. As 2011 ended, she or her character were on many "Best Of" lists, including HitFix's 25 Breakout Stars of 2011,[23] TV Guide's Best Performances of 2011,[24] MTV's Best TV Characters of 2011,[25] as well as others.

In the second half of the series' third season, Rivera's critical acclaim and featured role continued.[citation needed] She was given the opportunity to do a duet with Ricky Martin,[26] and worked with Gloria Estefan, who was cast as Santana's mother.[27] As the season ended, there was uncertainty about which characters and actors would return in the fourth season, once a large portion of the characters had graduated high school. While attending the Fox Upfronts in May 2012, Rivera confirmed that she would be returning.[28]

2011–present: Debut studio album[edit]

In May 2011, it was announced that Rivera had signed a deal with Columbia Records to produce a solo album.[29] That same month, Rivera hosted the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards.[30] In November 2011, Rivera and Amber Riley performed at the 10th Annual Celebration of Dreams Event for the Dream Foundation.[31] In December 2011, Rivera was revealed as the newest celebrity spokesperson for ProActiv.[32] On March 24, 2012, she co-hosted the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York with co-star Cory Monteith. Along with John Stamos, both hosts auctioned off kisses to the crowd, raising $15,000. This tradition started with Rivera when she hosted the 22nd Annual Media Awards in San Francisco.[33]

As the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards approached, Rivera was listed by many critics and media outlets as deserving of a nomination.[who?] The Hollywood Reporter included her in their "Emmy 2012: Supporting Players" photo shoot,[34] and Rivera was also honored by E!,[35] Hitfix,[36] TV Guide,[37] and others. She was also chosen by the TV Academy to take part in a promotional video for the upcoming awards ceremony. Regarding her awards season buzz, Rivera commented to The Hollywood Reporter, "For people to even think that I'd be considered or a good candidate for a supporting actress nomination is mind-blowing to me."[38]

In October 2012, Rivera was featured in the third episode of MTV's new show, This Is How I Made It. In the episode, Rivera recounted her childhood career as an actress and a model, as well as the lean times that came between the age of 16 and 21, leading up to her big break of being cast on Glee.[39] In December 2012, Rivera attended the annual Trevor Live event, where she performed her take on the song "Silent Night."[40] That same month, the duo 2Cellos released the second single to their second album, a cover of Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole" featuring Rivera. She also starred in the music video for the song.[41]

She has also starred in a recent M&M's commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013, as the girl that "Red" is referring to (and who is essentially trying to eat him) with a cover of Meat Loaf's I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That).[42]

Rivera's debut single "Sorry," featuring fiancé Big Sean, was released as a digital download on September 17, 2013.[43] Her debut album is set for early 2014.[44]

Public image[edit]

In April 2012, Rivera was featured on the cover of Latina magazine.[45] The following month she was also featured in the inaugural issue of Cosmo for Latinas,[46] and was selected by People en Español for their 50 Most Beautiful list.[47] In May 2012, Rivera made FHM's 100 Sexiest Women List, coming in at number 39.[48] She made the Maxim Hot 100 list for the third year in a row, moving up sixteen spots to number 27.[49] On the 2012 AfterEllen 'Hot 100 list' she was again ranked #1. She posed nude for the May 2013 issue of Allure magazine.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Rivera began dating recording artist Big Sean in April 2013.[51] The couple announced their engagement in October 2013.[51]

Rivera's brother, Mychal is a tight end for the Oakland Raiders.[52] Their sister, Nickayla, is a model.

Rivera dedicates her time to various charitable organizations,[53] including GLAAD,[33] The Trevor Project,[40] Stand Up to Cancer,[54] The Elephant Project[55] and The Sunshine Foundation.[56] She took up songwriting at the age of 15.[3] According to Rivera, "My passion for music is one of my greatest loves."[57] Rivera has stated that if she could not act or sing she would work as a writer.[58] She has completed several screenplays and television scripts.[59]

Rivera noted in an interview with Latina magazine that she was raised a devout Christian but is very private about it, noting the conflict that can result from revealing such information. "It's hard and sort of sad that you do feel the need to tread lightly when you say, 'Yes, I do go to church and I do read the Bible,' because once you do that, people will be like, 'Why are her boobs out? Why is her midriff showing? Why is she playing a lesbian?' I don't want to deal with that stuff, so I've never really discussed it. It's very personal."[60]


2009FrankenhoodHottieCredited erroneously[citation needed] as Naya Maria Rivera
2011Glee: The 3D Concert MovieSantana Lopez3D Concert Film
2013The Naughty ListSparkleAnimated Christmas Movie
2014HomeVeraPost Production
1991–92The Royal FamilyHillary WinstonRegular role
1992–93Family MattersGwendolynEpisodes: "Just One Date", "Heart Strings", "Mama's Wedding"
1993The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirCindyEpisode: "Bundle of Joy"
1993The Sinbad ShowParty GuestEpisode: "It's My Party, I'll Cry If I Want To"
1995Live ShotAnnEpisode: "Another Day, Another Story"
1996BaywatchWillaEpisode: "Scorcher"
1997–99Smart GuyKelly
Episodes: "Baby, It's You and You and You", "Never Too Young"
1999The JerseyGirl #2Episode: "Be True to You"
2002House BlendChloeTelevision pilot
2002Even StevensCharleneEpisode: "Short Story"
2002–04Pajama RamaHerselfHost
2002–06The Bernie Mac ShowDonnaRecurring role (Seasons 2-5): 11 episodes
2003Soul FoodLaurynEpisodes: "Truth's Consequences", "Nobody's Child"
20048 Simple RulesNice GirlEpisode: "Halloween"
2008GirlfriendsYoung LadyEpisode: "Stand and Deliver"
2008CSI: MiamiRachel CalvadoEpisode: "Power Trip"
2009–presentGleeSantana LopezSeason 1: recurring cast member
Season 2–present: main cast member
2010When I Was 17HerselfEpisode 28, with Carmelo Anthony and Taye Diggs
2012The Glee ProjectHerself (Guest Star)Season 2, Episode 4: "Sexuality"
2012This Is How I Made ItHerselfEpisode 3, with Chris Brown
2013Fashion PoliceHerself
2013Styled to RockHerself


List of singles as main artist, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
2013"Sorry" (feat. Big Sean)TBA

Guest Singles[edit]

Music videos[edit]

YearArtistSong Title
2002B2K"Why I Love You" "1:47" [61]
20122Cellos"Supermassive Black Hole"[62]

Stage work[edit]

2006–07U Don't Know MeKeila

Awards and nominations[edit]

1992Young Artist AwardsExceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under TenNominated
2010Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesWon
TV Land AwardsFuture Classics (with: Glee Cast)Won
Imagen AwardsBest Supporting Actress—TelevisionNominated
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Music: GroupNominated
Lesbian/Bi People's Choice AwardsFavorite Music Duo or Group (with: Glee Cast)Nominated
Gay People's Choice AwardsFavorite Music Duo or Group (with: Glee Cast)Won
2011Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Grammy AwardBest Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (Don't Stop Believin)Nominated
Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (Glee: The Music, Volume 1)Nominated
Teen Choice AwardsChoice Music: Group (with: Glee Cast)Nominated
ALMA AwardsFavorite TV Actress—Leading Role in a ComedyNominated
ALMA AwardsFavorite Female Music ArtistWon
2012Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Grammy AwardsBest Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media (with: Glee Cast) Glee: The Music, Volume 4Nominated
My TV AwardsRidiculously Good-Looking FemaleWon
My TV AwardsSupporting Actress in a ComedyWon
NewNowNext AwardsCause You're HotWon
ALMA AwardsBest Female Music ArtistWon
ALMA AwardsFavorite TV Actress - ComedyWon
2013Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesNominated
Giffoni Film FestivalGiffoni AwardWon
Taste AwardsGreat Taste Prize: Hollywood TastemakerWon
2014People's Choice AwardsFavorite TV Gal Pals (with Lea Michele)Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Naya Rivera Bio". Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Naya Rivera Dishes On Recording 'Sorry' Single With Big Sean". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  3. ^ a b Simpson, Melody (March 17, 2009). "Meet Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera of Glee". Hollywood the Write Way. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Mychal Rivera Profile", UTSports 
  5. ^ Corman, Rebecca. "Get to Know Mychal Rivera". The Oakland Raiders. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Betiku, Fehintola. "Good looks run in the family! Naya Rivera's younger sister Nickayla takes to the runway during New York Fashion Week". 
  7. ^ a b c "EXCLUSIVE: We Chat with GLEE’s Naya Rivera". Nice Girls TV. March 12, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  8. ^ Carter, Bill; Rutenberg, Jim (9 November 2011). "ABC Mourning Star of Series That Was Key To Its Lineup". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2009. 
  9. ^ The Bernie Mac Show appearances for Naya Rivera at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ a b Steinberg, Jamie. "Naya Rivera: Filled with Glee". Starry Constellation Magazine. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  11. ^ Ito, Robert (May 24, 2011). "'Glee': Naya Rivera is glad to portray gay cheerleader Santana". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 24, 2011. 
  12. ^ "A Tribute To Demetria Mckinney & The Cast Of "U Don't Know Me" The Musical". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  13. ^ a b c d Steinberg, Jamie (May 2009). "Naya Rivera—Filled With Glee". Starry Constellation Magazine. Retrieved June 2, 2009. 
  14. ^ "TWIST Chats With Glee's Naya Rivera". Twist. Bauer Publishing. September 15, 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  15. ^ Simpson, Melody (March 17, 2009). "Meet Cory Monteith & Naya Rivera of Glee". Hollywood the Write Way. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  16. ^ Ninojosa, Stacy (December 3, 2009). "Naya Rivera From 'Glee' Talks Santana, Singing and Spencer Pratt". Just So You Know. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  17. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin (December 14, 2009). "Spoiler Chat: Is Jenny Humphrey a Gossip Girl Homewrecker?". E! Online. Retrieved December 18, 2009. 
  18. ^ Hibberd, James (2010-04-27). "'Glee' exclusive: Brittany and Santana poised for major promotions | Inside TV |". Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  19. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (2011-04-27). "Born This Way". The Onion. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  20. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (2011-03-09). "'Glee recap: Let's Talk About Sex". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  21. ^ "Nuthin' But A Glee Thang with Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison & Sofia Vergara from Heather Morris, Sofia Vergara, Matthew Morrison, Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera, Harry Shum Jr, Riki Lindhome, Ashley Lendzion, David Bernad, Isaac Hagy, BoTown Sound, Shauna O'Toole, Funny Or Die, Keith Schofield, Brian Mulchy, and Christin Trogan". 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  22. ^ "Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez Top ALMA Nominees". ABC News. July 28, 2011. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  23. ^ "The 25 Breakout Stars of 2011". 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  24. ^ "Best of the Year—Best Performances". TV Guide. December 13, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  25. ^ "'Glee' Star Cheers Up Our Top 50 TV Characters Of 2011". MTV. 2011-12-08. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  26. ^ "SAG Awards: Naya Rivera Calls Working With Ricky Martin a 'Dream-Come-True' (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  27. ^ "Gloria Estefan on Glee Season Finale with Naya Rivera". Latina. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  28. ^ "'Glee's' Naya Rivera: Gloria Estefan Plays a 'Supportive' Mom". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  29. ^ "Glee's Naya Rivera Scores Solo Record Deal". Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  30. ^ Snarker, Dorothy (2011-05-16). "Naya Rivera wows as the host of the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco". Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  31. ^ "Dream Foundation Honors Donna Karan at 10th Annual Celebration of Dreams". The Santa Barbara Independent. 2011-11-10. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  32. ^ "Glee Star Naya Rivera's Skin Care Secret". Cosmopolitan. 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  33. ^ a b "John Stamos, Naya Rivera & Cory Monteith's Three-Way Smooch". People. 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  34. ^ "Emmys 2012: TV's Supporting Players Talk Ensemble Work, Geek Out at THR's Photo Shoot (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-06-06. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  35. ^ "Emmy Contenders: Supporting Actress, Comedy". E!. 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  36. ^ "Emmy Nomination Preview 2012 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy". HitFix. 2012-06-15. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  37. ^ "Emmys:'s Picks for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series". TV Guide. 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  38. ^ "Emmys 2012: 'Glee's' Naya Rivera on Playing a Lesbian Role Model". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  39. ^ "'Glee' Star Naya Rivera 'Almost Quit' Before She 'Made It'". 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2012-11-20. 
  40. ^ a b "Katy Perry honored at 'Trevor Live' (but it's Amy Poehler's show)". Los Angeles Times. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  41. ^ "2CELLOS Release New Music Video Featuring Glee Star Naya Rivera On Muse Hit "Supermassive Black Hole"". PRNewswire. 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-01-13. 
  42. ^ "Unlikely romance: Naya Rivera is wooed by a red piece of candy in laugh-out-loud Super Bowl commercial for M&M's". DailyMail. 2013-02-03. 
  43. ^ "iTunes - Music - Sorry (feat. Big Sean) - Single by Naya Rivera". 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  44. ^ "Naya Rivera New Album 2014 - Release Date & Tracklist: Glee Star Shares Details of First Record with Rolling Stone : Entertainment". Latino Post. 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  45. ^ "Naya Rivera's May 2012 Latina Magazine Cover". Latina. 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  46. ^ "Naya Rivera Shows Off Hot Bikini Bod In 'Cosmo for Latinas' Spread". Huffington Post. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  47. ^ "Watch out, Lea! Glee star Naya Rivera takes centre stage in geometric sequin dress". Daily Mail. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  48. ^ "FHM's 100 Sexiest Women In The World 2012: The full list!". FHM. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  49. ^ "Bar Refaeli, Naya Rivera and Stephen Colbert make Maxim’s ‘Hot 100’ list". Washington Post. 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  50. ^ "Naya Rivera Talks Spanx, Hooters Uniforms, and Her Locker-Room Attitude on the Set of Her Allure Nudes Shoot". Allure. 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  51. ^ a b Nessif, Bruna (October 3, 2013). "Naya Rivera and Big Sean Are Engaged!". E Online. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Mychal Rivera Draft Profile –". 2013-02-13. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  53. ^ Hinojosa, Stacy (December 3, 2009). "Naya Rivera From 'Glee' Talks Santana, Singing and Spencer Pratt". Retrieved August 15, 2010. 
  54. ^ "SU2C: Change The Odds PSA (09.10.10)". YouTube. 2010-08-03. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  55. ^ "Here is Naya Rivera from "Glee" posing with the elephant beanie baby to help fight Alzheimer’s disease!". Tumblr. 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  56. ^ "Glee star in T.O. to help kids". Toronto Sun. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  57. ^ "All About Naya Rivera". 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  58. ^ "Naya Rivera Interview". Portrait. July 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  59. ^ "All About Naya Rivera". March 25, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2011. 
  60. ^ Latina April 2012, republished at Rivera's official website
  61. ^ \
  62. ^ B2K. "Supermassive Black Hole". YouTube. Retrieved December 23, 2011.

External links[edit]