Rivera first appeared on TV at age 4, on CBS’ short-lived comedy Royal Family, but her breakthrough and most notable role was Santana Lopez on Fox’s musical comedy series Glee in 2009, soon after she completed a screenwriting program with us at NYFA.

Although she began the series with a guest role, she was promoted to the full-time cast just a year later, with her character marking a trailblazing moment for queer representation in Television. After Glee, she signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist and released her first single, “Sorry,” which featured rapper Big Sean.

In 2016, Rivera released a tell-all memoir titled Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up, in which she recounted her career and her time on Glee. More recently, Rivera had a recurring role on the Lifetime series Devious Maids and starred opposite Ne-Yo on the TV version of Step Up.

Rivera tragically passed away on July 8, 2020. Her memory will always hold a special place in the NYFA family.


Program Studied at NYFA: Screenwriting
Program Type: 8-Week Screenwriting
Year Attended/Graduated: 2008
Location: New York


New York Film Academy Graduates on Season 3 of Glee

New York Film Academy Graduates on Season 3 of Glee

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