Naya Rivera Biography
Birth Name: Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera was born on Jan. 12, 1987 in Santa Clarita, CA. Her multiethnic features derived from her Puerto Rican, German and African-American ancestry. The future star began modeling when she was a baby, appearing in print advertisements and commercials for companies such as Kmart. The multitalented Rivera also took songwriting classes when she was 15 years old. She made her television acting debut opposite Della Reese and Redd Foxx on the CBS comedy "The Royal Family (1991-92), from creator Eddie Murphy. Even though the series was short-lived, Rivera quickly landed guest spots on wholesome, family-oriented sitcoms, including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (NBC, 1990-96) and "Family Matters" (ABC, 1989-1998).
Rivera made a leap to feature film acting in 2002, landing a supporting role in "The Master of Disguise." The comedy starred "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) alum Dana Carvey as a quirky and dim-witted waiter named Pistachio who has the ability to transform himself with the help of hundreds of disguises and voice impressions. Soon after, Rivera appeared in a recurring role opposite another comedy legend, Bernie Mac, on his long-running Fox series "The Bernie Mac Show" (2001-06). Rivera was reportedly hired for a single-episode appearance, but was brought back for more episodes throughout the series' run.
In 2009, the California native's fortunes changed when she was cast as an Ohio cheerleader on Fox's big gamble, "Glee." Rivera played Santana Lopez, a cold-hearted and competitive member of the cheer squad, the Cheerios, who is sent by her coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) to spy on the school's fledgling glee club. Her character also finds a sidekick in Brittany (Heather Morris), a fellow Cheerio and her frequent make-out partner. Santana also has her eyes on the school's football stars and glee club hunks Finn (Cory Monteith) and Puck (Mark Salling), although her physical advances solely serve her own interests. Rivera showcased her singing talent during one of the show's most acclaimed episodes, "The Power of Madonna" (2010), where she had featured vocals during covers of the singer's hits "Like a Virgin" (1984) and "Express Yourself" (1989). Such was the phenomenon of the musical comedy series, that Rivera shared a 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy with her fellow cast members, as well as staged a successful nationwide concert tour that featured the show's musical numbers and hilarious skits. Both Rivera and Morris were cast in supporting parts during "Glee's" successful first season, yet their talent and popularity with the show's fans - nicknamed "Gleeks" - helped promote them to series regulars by season two.