Naya Rivera was an American actress, singer, and model. She is known for her portrayal of ‘Santana Lopez’ in the American 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.
Most of her life, she lived in or around Los Angeles, California.
Hair Color: Black (dyed Blonde & Brown)
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Family & Ethnicity
Parents & Siblings
Her sister, Nickalya Rivera, is a runaway model, and her brother, Mychal Rivera, is an American football tight end.
Relationships, Husband & Children
In 2000, she began dating actor and singer Tahj Mowry, and they broke up in 2004.
In 2008, she started dating the actor Mark Salling. On the request of his publicist, Salling broke up with Naya in 2010.
In April 2013, she came in a relationship with rapper-singer-songwriter Big Sean. They announced their engagement in October 2013, and they broke their engagement in April 2013.
Soon after her breakup with Big Sean, she began dating Ryan Dorsey. Ryan and Naya had earlier dated for a short time in 2010. According to her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, Naya was pregnant with Ryan’s child, she aborted their child in 2010 due to her rising career. On July 19, 2014, Ryan Dorsey and Naya got married in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
In September 2015, they welcomed their son Josey Hollis.
After two years of their marriage, the couple decided to separate. However, they reconciled and their divorce was called off. In December 2017, Ryan and Naya filed for dissolution of their marriage again, agreeing to share custody of their son. On June 14, 2018, their divorce was confirmed.
Earlier Work & Television
When she was 8-9 months old, Rivera was represented by the talent agency of her mother, who had moved to Los Angeles to pursue modeling. She began her career as a child model for a commercial of KMart. In her childhood, she appeared in numerous advertisements.
In 1991, she made her television debut with the series ‘The Royal Family’ as ‘Hillary Winston.’
She made small appearances 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 US national tours. In 2009, she auditioned for the role of ‘Santana Lopez’ in the American series ‘Glee’ and was selected for it. With time, her character in the series turned from a recurring to the regular one and gained popularity. The role became a breakthrough in her career.
She has acted in the TV shows: Devious Maids (2015), American Dad! (2016), and Step-Up: High Water (2018-19).
She appeared 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) in the role of ‘Vera.’
She has 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 lent her voice to many tracks in Glee Series. In 2011, she signed with Columbia Records. In 2012, she appeared as a vocalist in the song ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ by 2Cellos.
In 2013, she released her first single ‘Sorry’ with Big Sean.
In April 2019, Naya released a six-track EP titled ‘My Heart’ and contributed to the original soundtrack for Step Up: High Water.
In 2016, she published a memoir ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.’
Awards & Achievements
- People’s Choice Awards for Favorite TV Gal Pals (with Lea Michele) in 2014
- Giffoni Award at Giffoni Film Festival in 2013
- Ranked number one in Hot 100 list of Allure Magazine in 2011, 2012, and 2013
- TV Land Awards for Future Classics (with Glee Cast) in 2012
- Inducted in 50 Most Beautiful List of People en Español in 2012
- Inducted in 100 Sexiest Women List of FHM in 2012
- NewNowNext ward for Cause You’re Hot in 2012
- Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (with Glee cast) in 2010
- 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
- Naya was arrested and charged in Kanawha County, West Virginia for allegedly hitting Ryan in the head during an argument over their child in November 2017. In January 2018, the domestic battery charges on Naya was dismissed at the request of Dorsey, who had informed the prosecution and the defense counsel that he was no longer seeking prosecution. People
- In her 2016 memoir ‘Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up,’ Naya talked about her strenuous working relationship with Lea Michele, and how Michele’s attitude towards Naya changed when she started getting bigger storylines in Glee. Naya wrote, Mirror
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, after Josey was found alone in the boat rented by Naya at Lake Piru, Naya was declared missing. The search team at lake began looking for them after three hours 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 sheriff’s department 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.
- Filmmaker: Ryan Murphy
- Travel Destinations: Tulum, Italy
- In her free time, she used to do flower pressing, reading, traveling and listened to music.
- Her fans, family, and close friends gave her many names. Some of her names are- Nay Nay, Nay Nay Rivers, N’Nay, Bee, The Veiled Fairy, Nougat, Snix, Ni Ni, Smoochy, Peanut, and Scooby. IMDb
- Her grandmother, Clara, was an activist and fought for civil, women’s, and human rights in the 1960s.
- At the beginning of her acting career, Naya worked as a telemarketer, a nanny, and a greeter at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. At the same time, she used to give auditions and performed.
- She also auditioned for a season of the singing reality show American Idol during the San Francisco auditions. However, she failed to make it into the show.
- Naya made an appearance in the music video of ‘Why I Love You’ by B2K in 2002.
- She was featured on the cover of many magazines including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Rolling Stone, FHM, Complex, Glow, Prestige, The Hollywood Reporter, Cosmo for Latinas, Latina, Fit Pregnancy and Baby.
- She worked with many charitable organizations such as GLAAD, Stand Up to Cancer, The Trevor Project, The Elephant Project, and The Sunshine Foundation.
- In 2011, she has declared the newest celebrity spokesperson for Proactiv. Proactive is a skin-care brand whose products are 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 revealed that as a teenager, she suffered from anorexia.
- Naya had many tattoos; she had a shooting star on her right foot, a small peace symbol on her left ankle, a small bow at the back of her neck, the word “Love” written in Hebrew on her right wrist, and a large cross tattooed on her lower back.
- After her death was confirmed, some media outlets noted that her dead body was found on the same day as the death anniversary of Cory Monteith, her c0-star in Glee, who had died of mixed drug toxicity on July 13, 2013.