Naya Rivera

Naya Rivera

Jan. 12th, 1987
Born in
Santa Clarita, California, USA
5' 5

Naya Rivera's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Glee TV Show
The Royal Family TV Show
The Royal Family

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


Naya Marie Rivera (born January 12, 1987) is an American actress and singer, known for playing Santana Lopez on Fox Broadcasting's musical comedy-drama television series Glee.

Rivera was born 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. Her parents are George and Yolanda Rivera. Her brother is NFL tight end for the Oakland Raiders, Mychal Rivera. Her younger sister is runway model Nickayla Rivera. 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.

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. 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. 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. She was later featured in episodes of 8 Simple Rules and CSI: Miami. In between auditions and roles, Rivera worked jobs as a telemarketer, a nanny and a greeter at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. 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.

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. In December 2012, Rivera attended the annual Trevor Live event, where she performed her take on the song "Silent Night." 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.

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).

Rivera began dating recording artist Big Sean in April 2013. The couple announced their engagement in October 2013. Rivera's debut single "Sorry," featuring fiancé Big Sean, was released as a digital download on September 17, 2013. Her debut album is set for early 2014.

Rivera dedicates her time to various charitable organizations, including GLAAD, The Trevor Project, Stand Up to Cancer, The Elephant Project and The Sunshine Foundation. She took up songwriting at the age of 15. 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 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".


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