Photo Credit : Shaun Lang
By now, you’ve all heard about the newest of FOX’s “spring” offerings, Ryan Murphy’s Glee (the show airs once this May, and then comes back in September), starring Matthew Morrison, personal favorites Jessalyn Gilsig and Jane Lynch, and a slew of other Broadway names and faces. I had the chance to speak with one of the multi-talented stars of the show, Naya Rivera, who plays cheerleader-turned-choir-girl Santana Lopez. We talked about her character and why she thinks you’ll love this show!
TakeFiveGal : I got excited about the show a while ago and it’s finally on everyone’s radar. Tell me, in your words, what the show is about?
Naya Rivera : Basically, it centers around a high school glee club which is kind of a failure. It was a success back in the glory days, but now it’s just a group of four or five misfit kids that are not popular. The Spanish teacher who is played by Matthew Morrison, he actually has a dream to make it good again and take it Nationals. It kind of centers around that and there are a lot of other storylines that have to do with high school kids and what they go through.
And you play Santana – how does she get involved, is she in the Glee Club?
At first, she’s not. She’s in the Cheerios, which is a competitive cheerleading team. They were on like Fox Sportsnet and stuff. I do end up joining the glee club. As part of their goal to make it good, they recruit popular kids that have talent. So I actually do join with my friend, I play best friends with a character named Quinn, so me and her both joined.
You guys did all of your own singing, right?
Everyone in the whole cast actually sings. It’s really cool.
What initially drew you to this character?
Mostly, more than anything, I really do like to play things that I’m completely the opposite of. In high school, I was in no way popular, or a cheerleader, or running the school, so I initially really liked that. I loved the fact that she sings and got to be a part of the glee club and got to perform. That’s the biggest factor that made me want to play this character because I love performing and love singing.
What was high school like for you? Were you in the glee club?
My mom made me join choir Freshman year and I was in it for like two weeks, and then I totally did what the script says, all the kids were way too dorky, and I couldn’t handle it, so I dropped out [laughs]. I was like, I do this in real life, anyway. I go to auditions all the time. I didn’t need to do it in high school.
What are some fun things that we can look forward to?
You can look forward to a lot of drama, as far as hookups. I kow there’s going to be a lot of those. A lot of surprises with each individual character. Initially, the way they set it up, as the show progresses, it’s not what you think. Also, just the performance numbers and the songs themselves. They have really good songs. Everything’s mostly top 40, stuff that people are hearing on the radio right now, so I know that they’ll really enjoy that, and enjoy the interpretation of that.
What has been your favorite musical number so far?
They did Rehab and it wasn’t our club that it; it was a rival school’s club. They have a big musical production number that is supposed to be intimidating, and it was just awesome.
How did acting start for you? Was it a moment you had, or something that made you want to be an actress?
There was never really the “a ha” moment for me. I kind of always say that iw as born into it, literally. My mom came out here in the Midwest to pursue her modeling career. When she got pregnant with me, I ended up having the same print agent that she did when I was 8 months old, so I’ve been going ever since then really. As time went on, I really realized that it is my passion, and this is what I really love to do.
Who are some of your favorite actors and actresses?
I’m a huge Kate Hudson fan. Because I love comedy, and I personally love to play comedic roles and make people laugh. I think she’s so cute and lovable,and really funny. I love Johnny Depp. I’m big on him for a couple reasons. Halle Berry, she’s really good. I like the way she broke the mold. In most cases, she had to go out of her way to prove herself, and I can really relate to that.
Do you get a chance to watch TV?
Oh yeah! I call it doing research, but I am kind of a TV junkie.
And I call it my job, but it’s really that I just like watching![laughs] Me too!
What do you love?
I am obsessed with Nip/Tuck. And that’s another reason that I’m doing Glee because Ryan Murphy did Nip/Tuck and he’s doing this. When I went on the audition, I saw all these Nip/Tuck posters, and I didn’t even realize I was in his office. I’m obsessed with that show. I love Grey’s Anatomy. The storylines are so well-written. I watch House, I like that a lot. And I get into reality fixes. I have a couple reality shows that I love.
You mentioned loving comedy – what comedies do you watch when you have like a bad day and need a pick me up?
Probably Knocked Up or Old School. The stupid comedies, I love stupid comedies. Stepbrothers. I just saw that and I can’t stop laughing about it.
Any final thoughts?
I just hope that everybody responds well to what I do with my character. I’m really actually excited to see the feedback from my voice. I’ve never gotten to sing on television, so I’m stoked to do it.