Naya Rivera: Embracing Her Unique Mix of Puerto Rican, African-American, and German Heritage

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Naya Rivera was an American actress, singer, and model of mixed ethnicity. She was 50% Puerto Rican, 25% African-American, and 25% German.

Her diverse background came from her parents: her father, George Michele Rivera, had Puerto Rican and German ancestry, while her mother, Yolanda Marie (White), was of half black and half Puerto Rican descent.

Public Discussion of Ethnicity

Naya herself discussed her heritage on the talk show “The View,” where she described her identity as “half Puerto Rican, a quarter German, and a quarter African American.” She was well-known for her role as Santana Lopez on the television show Glee.

Naya Rivera attends the LA Premiere Of Roadside Attraction's Naya Rivera attends the LA Premiere Of Roadside Attraction’s “Judy” at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on September 19, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California (Credit: Nicky Nelson / WENN)

In January 2015, Naya Rivera ignited controversy with her comments on race and hygiene during an appearance on “The View.” She suggested that white people shower more frequently than “ethnics,” a term she used to refer to non-white people, citing her personal observations and family background as evidence.

I have to say I have a theory about showering, [which] is that I think that white people shower a lot more than ethnics. I feel like showering more than once a day or every day is such a white people thing.

Her remarks quickly sparked backlash on social media, with many accusing her of perpetuating harmful stereotypes about minorities being less clean. Rivera added that her husband, Ryan Dorsey, showered a lot. They married in July 2014 and divorced in 2016.

My mom is half-black, half-Puerto Rican, she showers every day, so I can say this. I’m now married to a white man and he showers a lot. Like two, three times a day. I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’

Rivera’s attempt to defuse the situation with humor did not appease her critics, who found her comments insensitive and ignorant of the historical context of such stereotypes, which have been used to justify racial discrimination and segregation in the past.

Naya Rivera's sexy feet are shoe size 8 (US)Naya Rivera’s sexy feet are shoe size 8 (US) (Credit: Nicky Nelson / WENN)

In her memoir “Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up,” Naya Rivera explores her complex relationship with race from an early age, highlighting how she has always been categorized as “other.” You can order a copy on Amazon.

She recounts how her mother would explicitly detail her mixed racial background on audition forms, emphasizing the importance of her children knowing their identity amidst a society eager to classify them. Rivera experienced a sense of alienation growing up, feeling too mixed to fit in neatly with any one racial group, which mirrored the challenges she faced in her acting career.

“At auditions, my mother would fill out the forms with all my basic information, and when it came to the question about race, she’d always check the ‘other’ box, and then write out exactly what I was: one-quarter African-American, one-quarter German and one-half Puerto Rican,” Rivera writes.

“Mom made sure to instill my racial identity in me as well. ‘People are always going to ask my kids what they are,’ she said. ‘And it’s important that they know.’”

“While I may have been black enough for Mattel, it wasn’t that clear-cut once I got to school,” Rivera adds. “I soon started realizing that I was too white for the black kids, too black for the Latinos and just generally too all-around other for the white kids.”

Naya Rivera shows off her feet in black sandalsNaya Rivera shows off her feet in black sandals at the 15th Annual Trevor Project Benefit held at Hollywood Palladium on December 8, 2013, in Hollywood, California (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)

Naya Rivera Stuns in Pink Michael Kors Dress at Giffoni Film Festival 2013

In July 2013, Naya Rivera attended a photo call for the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival, looking drop-dead gorgeous.

The ‘Glee’ actress posed and greeted a crowd of screaming fans in a pink Michael Kors Pre-Fall 2013 dress that highlighted her curves and showed off her tanned skin.

Naya Rivera flaunts her incredible legs at a photo call for the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival in Ischia, Italy, on July 24, 2013Naya Rivera flaunts her incredible legs at a photo call for the 2013 Giffoni Film Festival in Ischia, Italy, on July 24, 2013 (Credit: WENN)

She complimented the dress with soft pink lips and pointy pink nails but smartly broke the color scheme with silver Monika Chiang “Zinc” stilettos.

Naya Rivera put her sexy cleavage on display in a pink dressNaya Rivera put her sexy cleavage on display in a pink dress (Credit: WENN)

Though there’s a lot of pink, we think the silver stilettos offer some balance, leaving us smitten with this look!

Naya Rivera reveals toe cleavage in show-stopping heels from Monika ChiangNaya Rivera reveals toe cleavage in show-stopping heels from Monika Chiang (Credit: WENN)

So, what’s your verdict? Did Naya’s look work? Were her silver stilettos a good move?

If you’re digging this pair from Monika Chiang, we totally understand. They boast an elegant shape with show-stopping heels — perfect for making a statement.

Monika Chiang Zinc d'Orsay StilettosMonika Chiang Zinc d’Orsay Stilettos, $395