Naya Rivera in THR's 35 Hottest Young Latinos in Entertainment!

BKLOT Naya Rivera - P 2012

Naya Rivera

Though she had been modeling and acting from a young age, it wasn’t until Rivera, 25, landed the role of mean-girl cheerleader Santana Lopez on Fox’s Glee that the half Puerto Rican, quarter African-American and quarter German actress really broke out. “My mom was the one who put me in [the business] and being Latin has kept me humble foremost because we work hard at being grounded,” she says. “I know I’m representing a larger group of people, and it steers my decision-making.” Rivera says she has always hoped her career would emulate Jennifer Lopez’s after seeing her in 1997’s Selena; with a 2011 Columbia Records deal for a solo album, she’s on her way. “We’re still recording but we’re inching closer to putting something out very soon,” she says. Returning to Glee’s fourth season in September, Rivera says she hopes the series will delve deeper into Santana’s family, which includes a mother played by Gloria Estefan and an abuela who rejects her granddaughter’s homosexuality. “If we delved into her family, we could really celebrate the culture -- like we did with her abuela: with traditional food on the table, mixed with Spanish.” It’s a note she hopes other shows follow as well. “I think one [Latin character] a show is not enough.”

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