Naya Rivera

Naya Marie Rivera (born January 12, 1987) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role in the musical comedy television series Glee, as Santana Lopez.


Early life

Rivera was raised in ValenciaSanta ClaritaCalifornia and has lived in or around Los Angeles for most of her life. Rivera is of half Puerto Rican, quarter African American, and quarter German descent.[1] Her parents are George and Yolanda Rivera.[2] 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

Career

As a baby, Rivera appeared in commercials for Kmart, but her first significant acting job was at the age of four when she starred as Hillary Winston in the Eddie Murphy produced sitcom The Royal Family in 1991.[3] The show received positive reviews and high ratings initially, but when star Redd Foxx suffered a sudden heart attack on set the show never recovered and was soon canceled.[4] Nonetheless, Rivera received a Young Artist Award nomination for her performance.
Between 1992 and 2002, she had small roles in The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirFamily MattersLive ShotBaywatchSmart GuyThe JerseyHouse BlendEven 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.[5] She was later featured in episodes of 8 Simple Rules and CSI: Miami.[3][6] In between auditions and roles, Rivera worked odd jobs as a telemarketer, a nanny, and a greeter at an Abercrombie & Fitch store.[7] 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.

Glee

In 2009, Rivera was cast as Cheerios cheerleading squad member Santana Lopez 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.[6]
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".[9] She has described Santana as "your typical high school cheerleader, for the most part,"[9] explaining: "She's really mean and loves boys. She's really witty so I love playing her."[9] 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."[10] Rivera enjoys the fact Santana is competitive and headstrong as she herself shares those traits, but dislikes Santana's mean streak.[11] 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".[9] Santana played a more prominent part in the last nine episodes ofGlee's first season.[12] 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."[13]
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.[14] 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.[15][16]
In January 2011 Rivera appeared in a parody of "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", called "Nuthin' But a Glee Thang", co-written by her best friendHeather Morris.[17]
During the 2011 Glee Tour, Rivera teamed up with Amber Riley for the duet "River Deep, Mountain High" and performed solo on "Valerie" as well as lending back-up vocals to several other songs.
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".[18] BuddyTV ranked her #3 on its "TV's 100 Sexiest Women of 2011" list.[19] 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 was on many "Best Of" lists, including HitFix.com's 25 Breakout Stars of 2011,[20] TV Guide's Best Performances of 2011,[21] MTV's Best TV Characters of 2011,[22] as well as others.
In the second half of Season 3, Rivera's critical acclaim and featured role continued. She was given the opportunity to do a duet withRicky Martin,[23] and work with Gloria Estefan, who was cast as Santana's mother.[24] As Season 3 ended there was uncertainty about which characters and actors would return in Season 4, 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.[25]

[edit]Since Glee fame

In 2010, Rivera made the Maxim Hot 100 list, at number 61.[26] The following year, she was ranked number 43.[27] On the 2011AfterEllen 'Hot 100 list' she was ranked #1.
In May 2011, it was announced that Rivera had signed a deal with Columbia Records to produce a solo album.[28] That same month, Rivera hosted the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards.[29] In November 2011, Rivera and Amber Riley performed at the 10th Annual Celebration of Dreams Event for the Dream Foundation.[30] In December 2011 Rivera was revealed as the newest celebrity spokesperson for ProActiv.[31] In February 2012, Rivera was nominated for a NewNowNext Award. On March 24, 2012, she co-hosted the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York with co-star Cory Monteith. The two stars, along with John Stamos, continuing a tradition begun by Rivera when she hosted the 22nd Annual Media Awards in San Francisco, auctioned off kisses to the crowd, raising $15,000.[32]
In April 2012, Rivera was featured on the cover of Latina magazine.[33] The following month she was also featured in the inaugural issue of Cosmo for Latinas,[34] and was selected by People en Español for their 50 Most Beautiful list.[35] Also in May, Rivera made FHM's 100 Sexiest Women List, coming in at number 39,[36] and made the Maxim Hot 100 list for the third year in a row, moving up sixteen spots to number 27.[37] On the 2012 AfterEllen 'Hot 100 list' she was again ranked #1.
As the 2012 Emmy Awards approached, Rivera was listed by many critics and media outlets as deserving of a nomination. The Hollywood Reporter included her in their "Emmy 2012: Supporting Players" photo shoot,[38] and Rivera was also honored by E!,[39]Hitfix,[40] TV Guide,[41] 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."[42]
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 being cast on Glee.[43] In December 2012 Rivera attended the annual Trevor Live event, where she performed her take on the song "Silent Night."[44] Also in December 2012, 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.[45]

[edit]Personal life

Rivera at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010
Rivera is an avid reader[46] and dedicates her time to various charitable organizations,[47]including GLAAD,[32] The Trevor ProjectStand Up to Cancer,[48] The Elephant Project,[49] and The Sunshine Foundation. She took up songwriting at the age of 15.[1]According to Rivera, "My passion for music is one of my greatest loves." Rivera has stated that if she could not act or sing she would work as a writer. She has completed several screenplays and television scripts.
Rivera's brother, Mychal, is a college football player, a tight end for the University of Tennessee.[2] Their sister, Nickayla, is a model.
Rivera noted in an interview with Latina magazine that she is 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 yes 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 wanna deal with that stuff, so I've never really discussed it, it's very personal.


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