Naya Rivera Memorable Roles: From 'Glee' to 'Family Matters' (Photos)

She’s been acting on television since the early 1990s

“Step Up: High Water,” “Glee,” “The Bernie Mac Show”

Naya Rivera has been acting in television roles since the early 1990s, but she’s best known for the role of Santana Lopez on Fox’s musical series “Glee,” on which she starred from 2009 to 2015. Here is a list of 16 of Rivera’s most memorable roles throughout her career, from her beginnings as a child actress in the early up through her most recent role in “Step Up: High Water.”

“The Royal Family” – Hilary Winston

Rivera’s first television role was as Hilary Winston in the CBS sitcom “The Royal Family” when she was just four years old.

“Family Matters” – Gwendolyn

In 1992, she played another little girl named Gwendolyn in three episodes of “Family Matters.” In one scene in the episode “Heart Strings,” she asks Steve Urkel for love advice.  

“Bay Watch” – Willa

She also appeared in one 1996 episode of “Baywatch” called “Scorcher” as a girl named Willa who gets lost on the beach.

“Even Stevens” – Charlene

In 2002, she was in one episode of this Shia Labeouf-led Disney, playing a girl who had a bone to pick with Louis for getting gum stuck in her hair.

“Master of Disguise” – Captain America Kid

Rivera appeared in a one-minute scene as part of a group of kids who interact with Dana Carvey dressed as Captain America as he pummels his nemesis, Devlin Boman, played by Brent Spiner in this 2002 comedy movie.

“Soul Food” – Lauryn

She played Ahmad’s girlfriend Lauryn in two 2003 episodes of this series that followed a multigenerational Black family in Chicago.

“The Bernie Mac Show” – Donna

Rivera had a longer, 11-episodes stint on “The Bernie Mac” show as Donna, who befriends Vanessa (Camille Winbush).

“CSI Miami” – Rachel Calvado

In a 2008 episode called “Power Trip,” she played a woman whose murder involves the use of jumper cables.

“Glee” – Santana Lopez

Rivera’s best-known role is the part of Santana Lopez on Ryan Murphy’s Fox musical series “Glee.” Santana is a popular cheerleader who explores her identity as a lesbian and later falls in love with and marries her best friend Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris). Rivera starred on the series from 2009 to 2015.

“The View” – Guest Co-Host

She also made six appearances as a guest co-host between 2014 and 2015.

“Devious Maids” – Blanca Alvarez

She also appeared in four episodes of this Marc Cherry dramedy-mystery series in 2015.

“American Dad!” – Lolo Fuentes

Rivera voiced a foxy home-schooled girl for one episode of this animated comedy in 2016.

“Mad Families” – Felipa 

She also starred opposite Charlie Sheen and Leah Remini in this 2017 comedy movie.

“Ru Paul’s Drag Race” – Guest Judge

In 2017, she was a guest judge on one episode of this drag series called “Good Morning B*tches.”

“Step-Up: Highwater” – Collette Jones

Playing the head of an art school, Rivera has starred in this YouTube Original series since 2018.

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