Known for playing the feisty and sexually intimidating Santana Lopez on FOX’s hit musical show Glee, Naya Rivera is one of the rising stars of 2011. However, before donning the red and white cheerleader uniform and signature ponytail as one of Sue Sylvester’s Cheerios and belting her voice out as a member of Will Schuester’s glee club, The New Direction, Naya has been in the acting game way before she could even walk or dance.
Born Santa Clarita, California, Naya has appeared in commercials since she was a baby due to being represented by the same talent agency that represented her mother. Naya’s first major role was playing Hillary Winston on The Royal Family created by Eddie Murphy back in the 1990s. Although the role was first of many, Naya’s portrayal drew some negative reviews from critics who criticized her acting abilities as being “forced” when reading lines. Well, Naya has flourished into a full-fledged actress since that first review landing future roles on another 1990s sitcom Family Matters, as Gwendolyn the adorable little girl who couldn’t get enough of Cousin Richie. From there, Naya went on to play minor roles on Smart Guy, Even Stevens, 8 Simple Rules, The Bernie Mac Show, and CSI: Miami until earning herself a recurring role, and eventually cast upgrade as series regular, on the FOX surprise hit Glee.
Aside from acting, Naya has always enjoyed singing and dancing. Knowing this, Naya’s manager sent her to the audition for the show where she belted out her lungs and earned herself the spot as Santana Lopez. Since becoming the series vixen and resident mean girl, Naya has gained some noticeable recognition from a certain community. Being a frequent gay bar patron, Naya has obtained gay icon status due to her portrayal. In an interview with The Advocate, Naya claims that she is easily recognized by gay men because “the gays do love a good bitch,” which she plays so well since she finds the role “invigorating and kind of therapeutic.” Because of the adoration her character brings, Naya is easily recognized and would be approached by fans squealing “’Oh, my God, I’m talking to Santana!’ They only call me ‘Santana.’ It’s awesome.”
What’s next for Naya? The actress hopes to eventually star on the big screen and may even bring her vocal talents into the studio to record an album. Whatever is next for Naya, she is sure to go far since the actress has garnered some attention within the entertainment industry since standing out as a talented Latina actress and singer appearing on the small screen.
– Ms. Rivera is half Puerto-Rican, Black, and German.
– Is a Capricorn.
– Named after a character from 80s series 1970s series Fantasy Island
– Admitted to looking up to Paris Hilton as a role model when a teenager.
– As a freshman in high-school she joined the Choir, but quit after a week
-Started writing songs at 15
-Guiltiest Pleasure is watching reality TV.
-Tends to say the word “like” a lot.
– Considers herself sexually confident, just like her character Santana Lopez.
– Good friends with Glee costar Heather Morris who plays fellow Cheerio cheerleader and Santana’s BFF, Brittany.
– Reportedly dating Glee costar Mark Salling, who plays Puck.