Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I am currently working on a new show for Fox called "Glee." It's an hour long musical comedy and I've been working on that for the past three months. I also did an episode of "CSI."
Q) Please tell us the premise for the show "Glee" and about your character Santannah.
A) The show centers around a high school Glee Club in Ohio. It starts being made up of a group of misfits that aren't really popular. The school's Spanish teacher, Will Schuster (played by Matthew Morrison), has a dream to take over the school's Glee Club and make it awesome again. He wants it to go to Regionals and Nationals. So, he starts recruiting the popular kids and wants to do hipper dance numbers. I come in as one of the popular cheerleaders. Santannah is a competitive cheerleader at the school. She's part of a cheerleading squad called The Cheerios. She's really your typical high school cheerleader, for the most part. She's really mean and loves boys. She's really witty so I love playing her.
Q) What made you want to be a part of the show?
A) There were a couple of things. The first was the chance that we get to sing, dance and act all in the same show. That made me really, really want to book it. Those are things that I love to do and I've never gotten to combine them all and do it in one project. The other thing is being able to work with Ryan Murphy. I'm such a huge Ryan Murphy fan because I love "Nip/Tuck." I love the way he writes and directs. When I found out that this show was created by him, I was floored! I was so excited to be working on it.
Q) How did you prepare for the role?
A) I draw from a lot of life experiences when ever I play any role. I kind of put that into everything. Since I am playing a high school student, I go back. I definitely wasn't popular in high school so I can look and draw from all of the girls that would be closest to Santannah (if she were a real person). I also watched a bunch of high school movies and old shows liked Mean Girls to really get in the zone and feel like a bitchy Sophomore.
Q) What about the role have you found challenging?
A) I have found the pacing challenging, which I love. I'm surrounded all day every day with people who are as talented as me, if not more. That always strives me to push myself, especially in the dance department. Our dance numbers are really intense, fast and awesome. I've never had to dance like that before. So, I really try and keep up to do the best that I can. It's been really challenging, but it has been really rewarding at the same time.
Q) Was there instant cast chemistry when everyone first began working together or did it take some time to develop?
A) I think for the most part it was pretty instant. We're a really big cast. We have twelve Glee members now, our teacher and a couple other adults. Within the Glee Club itself, we hang out all the time and it is like going to work and just hanging out with your friends all day. On the set, there is always someone to hang out with or talk to. It's great! Everyone really does love everyone else.
Q) What was your most memorable moment from filming "Glee?"
A) I would probably say my most memorable moment is when the three cheerleaders performed a little number as an audition number. I hadn't danced in such a long time and I was really nervous. I practiced until 3:30am to get it right. I went there the next day, we did it and we did such a good job. The people from "Nip/Tuck" actually came over because we're on the set next to them. They came over, they were watching and they were clapping. It was weird, but oddly uplifting for work to be put in that situation. I felt like I accomplished something.
Q) Why will people want to take their time to see the show?
A) I think people will love it because it is really inspirational and really funny. Those are two things that normally don't really go together that well, but in this case it works awesomely. I work on the show and every time I read a script or see something on a monitor, I feel really good inside. I know it sounds really corny, but this show does that to you. Ryan picked songs that everybody knows, people grew up with and that older and younger people know. There is a mixed array of what we sing and perform. Anybody that knows Ryan Murphy's writing, knows that it is sharp and it is good.
Q) You recently volunteered for the Foothills of Aids Project. What made that so important for you to participate in?
A) I was stoked because I haven't ever really had to start participating in charity events or giving back to the community. I feel like that is really important to do because I feel like I am so blessed with my job and my life right now that I would love to take time to bowl for a cause. I hope to raise money to help some other people that are in a really tough situation.
Q) Where can people go online to learn more about you?
A) I have a website, which is http://www.nayarivera.com. It is still kind of under construction. There is some cool stuff like my bio and my reel.
ALL PHOTOS BY SHAUN LANG