Naya Rivera was an American actress, singer, and model. She is famous for her role as ‘Santana Lopez’ in the TV series Glee (2009-2015).
Naya Marie Rivera was born on Monday, January 12, 1987 (age 33 years; at the time of death) in Santa Clarita, California. Her zodiac sign is Aquarius.
Throughout her life, she lived in an around Los Angeles, California.
Height: 5’ 5”
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Black (dyed Blonde & Brown)
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
Naya Rivera was born to a Puerto Rican-German actor George Rivera and former Puerto Rican-African-American model Yolanda.
Her brother, Mychal Rivera, is an American football tight end.
She has a sister named Nickayla Rivera who is a runway model.
Relationships, Husband & Children
From 2000 to 2004, she dated actor and singer Tahj Mowry.
In 2008, she came into a relationship with Mark Salling. They broke up in 2010 when Salling dumped her on the request of his publicist.
In April 2013, she started dating rapper-singer-songwriter Big Sean. In October 2013, they announced their engagement, and by April 2013, they broke their engagement.
Soon after their breakup, she began dating Ryan Dorsey. Ryan and Naya had dated for a brief time in 2010. According to her memoir, Naya was pregnant with his child, but due to her rising career, she aborted their child in 2010. On July 19, 2014, she got married to Ryan Dorsey in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
In September 2015, their son Josey Hollis was born.
After two years of their marriage, she decided to divorce but they reconciled and their divorce was called off. In December 2017, Ryan and Naya decided to dissolve their marriage again, agreeing to share custody of their son. On June 14, 2018, their divorce was confirmed.
Earlier Work & Television
When she was 8 or 9 months old, Rivera was represented by the same talent agent as her mother, who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue modeling. She started her career as a child model for a commercial of KMart. As a child, she was seen in numerous advertisements.
In 1991, she made her television debut in the role of ‘Hillary Winston’ in the series ‘The Royal Family.’
She then appeared in small roles in the TV series: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1993), Family Matters (1992-93), Live Shot (1995), Baywatch (1996), Smart Guy (1997-99), House Blend (2002), and Even Stevens(2002). In 2006 and 2007, she acted in the musical ‘U Don’t Know Me’ in Los Angeles and National Tours. In 2009, she auditioned for the American series ‘Glee’ and was cast as the cheerleader ‘Santana Lopez.’ The role became a breakthrough in her career. With the show, she gained immense popularity. In the first season of the show, she was a recurring character and from the second season, her character became the main one.
She has acted in the TV shows: Devious Maids (2015), American Dad! (2016), and Step-Up: High Water (2018-19).
She was cast as a child actor in the film ‘The Master of Disguise’ (2002) as a ‘Kid with Captain America.’
As an adult, she made her film debut with ‘At the Devil’s Door’ (2014) as ‘Vera.’
She worked in the films: Frankenhood (2009), Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (2011), The Naughty List (2011), and Mad Families (2017).
As a Singer & Other Works
She sang many tracks for the Glee Series. In 2012, she was featured as the vocalist in the song ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ by 2Cellos.
In 2011, she signed a record deal with Columbia Records. She released her first single ‘Sorry’ with Big Sean in 2013.
Rivera released a six-track EP titled ‘My Heart’ in April 2019 and contributed to the original soundtrack for Step Up: High Water.
She published a memoir ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up’ in 2016.
Awards & Achievements
- Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (with Glee cast) in 2010
- TV Land Awards for Future Classics (with Glee Cast) in 2012
- Listed in 50 Most Beautiful List of People en Español in 2012
- Listed in 100 Sexiest Women List of FHM in 2012
- NewNowNext ward for Cause You’re Hot in 2012
- Ranked number one in Hot 100 list of Allure Magazine in 2011, 2012, and 2013
- Giffoni Award at Giffoni Film Festival in 2013
- People’s Choice Awards for Favorite TV Gal Pals (with Lea Michele) in 2014
- Favorite Female Music Artist in 2011
- Favorite Female Music Artist in 2012
- Favorite TV Actress – Comedy in 2012
My TV Awards
- Ridiculously Good-Looking Female in 2012
- Supporting Actress in a Comedy for Glee in 2012
- In late November 2017, Rivera was arrested and charged in Kanawha County, West Virginia for allegedly hitting Ryan in the head during an altercation over their child. In January 2018, the domestic battery charge was dismissed at the request of Dorsey, who had notified both the prosecution and the defense counsel that he was no longer seeking prosecution.
- In her 2016 book ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up,’ Rivera revealed about her difficult working relationship with Lea Michele and how Michele started acting cold towards Rivera when she started getting bigger storylines in Glee. Naya wrote,
I think Rachel – erm, I mean Lea – didn’t like sharing the spotlight. If I’d complained about anyone or anything, she’d assumed I was bitching about her. Soon, she started to ignore me, and eventually, it got to the point where she didn’t say a word to me for all of season six. Lea was a lot more sensitive though, and sometimes it seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong.”
Disappearance and Death
On July 8, 2020, she was declared ‘missing’ after her four-year-old son, Josey, was found alone in the boat rented by Naya at Lake Piru. Three hours after they left the dock, the search for then began as their rental was over and they had not returned. A boater discovered Josey sleeping alone on the boat with a life jacket on. Josey told investigators that he and his mother were swimming and she helped him climb back into the boat but she was unable to climb on the boat and then disappeared underwater. On July 9, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to NBC that Rivera was presumed dead and that rescue efforts would now shift to recovery efforts. On July 13, a body was found floating at Lake Piru, which was confirmed to be Naya, and she was officially declared dead. On July 14, the Ventura County medical examiner released an autopsy report, which stated that the cause of death was an accidental drowning and that there was no evidence of injury or intoxication.
Her net worth was $5 million as of 2020.
- Travel Destinations: Tulum, Italy
- In her spare time, she liked flower pressing, reading, traveling, and listening to music.
- Her fans and close friends gave her many names. Some of them are- Nay Nay, Nay Nay Rivers, N’Nay, Bee, The Veiled Fairy, Nougat, Snix, Ni Ni, Smoochy, Peanut, and Scooby.
- In the 1960s, her grandmother, Clara, was an activist and advocated for civil, women’s, and human rights.
- While auditioning for shows and acting during the early stage of her career, she worked as a telemarketer, a nanny, and a greeter at an Abercrombie & Fitch store.
- She also auditioned for a season of the singing reality show American Idol during the San Francisco auditions, but couldn’t make it in the show.
- In 2002, she appeared in the music video of ‘Why I Love You’ by B2K.
- She was featured in various magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Rolling Stone, FHM, Complex, Glow, Prestige, The Hollywood Reporter, Cosmo for Latinas, Latina, Fit Pregnancy and Baby.
- She was an active philanthropist. She did charities for the organizations such as GLAAD, Stand Up to Cancer, The Trevor Project, The Elephant Project, and The Sunshine Foundation
- In 2011, she was named the newest celebrity spokesperson for Proactiv, a brand of skin-care products developed by two American dermatologists, Katie Rodan and Kathy A. Fields, and launched in 1995 by Guthy-Renker, a California-based direct marketing company.
- In her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, she confessed that she suffered from anorexia in her teenage.
- Naya had many tattoos; she had a small bow at the back of her neck, the word “Love” written in Hebrew on her right wrist, a large cross on her lower back, a small peace sign on the inside of her left ankle, and a shooting star on the top of her right foot.
- After her death was reported, it was noted that her dead body was found on the death anniversary of Cory Monteith, her c0-star in Glee, who had died of mixed drug toxicity on July 13, 2013.