Naya Rivera: Bring It On, Bitch!

As Santana, Glee’s resident mean girl, Naya Rivera loosens her tight Cheerios ponytail to talk gay bars, drag queen inspiration, and the bisexual future of Brittana.

BY Brandon Voss

May 04 2010 6:10 PM ET

NAYA RIVERA 2 X390 (FOX) | ADVOCATE.COMYour solo sounded great. I know you’ve appeared on a number of sitcoms like The Royal Family, Family Matters, and The Bernie Mac Show, but what’s your musical background?
I’ve pretty much just been singing my whole life. I’d do little talent shows as a kid, and my mom would shuttle me back and forth between vocal rehearsals and training three times a week. I took voice lessons for five years, and I was in and out of the studio doing demo work — stuff like that. I’ve always wanted to put out an album because I also love writing. I don’t know what it would be like, but that’s definitely something I want to accomplish.

Heather told me that she creates backstory for her character and even keeps a Brittany journal. Do you do anything like that?
I do it in my head as I go along, so when something happens, I’ll be like, "Why did I do that?" The other day we were shooting one of the last scenes of the season, and they told us to really reflect on this year for our characters. I kind of boiled it down, like, Well, basically all I did all year was get mad at girls for hooking up with Puck, and then I took Finn’s virginity.

Was “Like a Virgin” your most memorable moment on set this season?
I didn’t think anything could top that, but then we did our Lady Gaga episode, and I got to do some cool stuff in that. That totally topped it for me. It was a nice way to end the season. I will only tell you that I have a big hat.

What’s your dream song to perform next season?
I’d love to sing something by Amy Winehouse — something where I could be a little melodramatic.

There’s talk of a Britney Spears episode next season, so feel free to call dibs on a Britney jam.
I hadn’t heard that, but that sounds amazing. I’d love to do “Slave 4 U.” The funny thing is that I always do a Britney Spears singing impression, so hopefully I’ll get to do it on the show if that rumor comes true.

You recently performed with the Glee cast at the White House and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Where do you go from there?
I know. How crazy is that? We always joke around, like, “Yeah, guys, next week we’re performing on the moon, then we’re going to meet the pope, and Jesus is coming to set on Wednesday.”

Though you’re both currently considered recurring as opposed to regular cast members, I was surprised to see you and Heather sitting in the audience instead of onstage with Oprah and the regulars. Is it frustrating to sometimes have to take a backseat to the main cast?
There’s a time for everyone, and everyone has their time. The show’s set up so that it’s not going to leave anyone behind. Everyone’s going to get a turn to have an episode, a song, and a solo. As you can see, I’ve already gotten more stuff, and I do feel like I’m an asset to the show. They do a really good job of making us happy.

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