biographical data

Naya Rivera biography: 13 things about ‘Glee’ star

Naya Marie Rivera is an actress and singer of Puerto Rican, German and African American descent. She is best known for her role as Santana Lopez on the Fox series “Glee,” which she played from 2009 to 2015.

Rivera was born in Valencia, Santa Clarita, California, USA to Puerto Rican-German actor George Michele Rivera and Puerto Rican-African American model Yolanda Marie White Previtire. George and Previtire divorced in 1996.

Outside show business, Naya worked as a telemarketer, a nanny and an Abercrombie & Fitch store greeter. She is three years older than her brother Mychal Rivera, a National Football League tight end, and seven years older than their sister Nickayla Ann Rivera, a model.

Before starring in “Glee,” Naya auditioned for “American Idol” in San Francisco, California, United States but she was cut in the first round. Here are are 13 more facts about the Puerto Rican-German-African American actress and singer:


  1. As a baby, she appeared in commercials for Kmart.
  2. From 1991 to 1992, she played Hillary Winston in “The Royal Family,” a CBS sitcom created by Eddie Murphy.
  3. Between 2002 and 2017, Naya starred in six films namely “The Master of Disguise,” “Frankenhood,” “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie,” “The Naughty List,” “At the Devil’s Door” and “Mad Families.”
  4. From 2006 to 2007, she played Keila in Mark E. Swinton’s play “U Don’t Know Me: The Musical” not only in Los Angeles, California but also on U.S. national tour.
  5. From 2007 to 2010, she dated her “Glee” co-star Mark Salling, who was found dead on January 30, 2018 from an apparent suicide by hanging near his home in the Sunland area of Los Angeles.
  6. She appeared in the music videos of the B2K songs “Why I Love You” and “1:47” and the 2Cellos song “Supermassive Black Hole,” which was released in 2012.
  7. On March 24, 2012, she co-hosted the 23rd Annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York City, New York, USA with “Glee” co-star Cory Monteith, who was found dead on July 13, 2013 in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Monteith died from a mixed drug toxicity consisting of heroin and alcohol.
  8. Released on September 17, 2013, her debut single “Sorry” featured rapper Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, professionally known as Big Sean. The two were engaged from October 2013 to April 2014.
  9. She and Ryan Dorsey got married on July 19, 2014 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Their son Josey Hollis Dorsey was born on September 17, 2015 in Los Angeles.
  10. In 2015, TarcherPerigee published her memoir “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.” In the book, she addressed the feud between her and her “Glee” co-star Lea Michele.
  11. On November 26, 2017, she was arrested after hitting Dorsey in the head and face and was charged with domestic battery. They finalized their divorce on June 14, 2018.
  12. At around 1 p.m. on July 8, 2020, she and Josey rented boat at Lake Piru, a reservoir located in Los Padres National Forest and Topatopa Mountains of Ventura County in California. At around 4 p.m. that day, Josey was found asleep and alone on the boat.
  13. She died at the age of 33.

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