Why Hollywood Won't Cast Naya Rivera Anymore

Naya Rivera became a household name in 2009 when she played Santana Lopez, the mean girl with a soft heart and killer voice, on Glee. She notably stood out on the show for her impressive acting, velvety-smooth vocals, and groundbreaking story line as a teen coming to terms with her fluid sexuality.

As one of the show's breakout stars, Rivera was heralded during its run with critical acclaim and a devout fan base. Naturally, when the show came to its (tumultuous and arguably overdue) end in 2015, it seemed like she was someone to watch. However, despite diversifying her resume in the entertainment industry, it's been a while since Rivera's professional life dominated headlines. 

So, calling all Gleeks! Let's answer the question on everyone's minds: why won't Hollywood cast Naya Rivera anymore?

Her first single was a flop

In 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Rivera had inked a deal with Columbia Records. Her highly anticipated first single, a collaborative effort with rapper and then-fiancé Big Sean titled "Sorry," premiered two years later in September 2013.

As Rivera told Billboard, "I wrote the song at the beginning of the summer along with some other songs." On the timing of the release, she said, "this song just felt like a really good end-of-summer song." She made the decision to collaborate with her then-beau because "it just felt like Sean's swag and his vibe would just really fit this well, and I was right." The track's sexually explicit lyric video reportedly drew inspiration from Robin Thicke's equally NSFW "Blurred Lines" video. Rivera said that was intentional, telling Rolling Stone she wanted to clearly differentiate her solo work  from her performance on Glee

Unfortunately, audiences weren't as receptive to the new Rivera. Her single performed below expectations, debuting at No. 37 on the Billboard Rhythmic chart.

Her solo album never saw the light of day

Following the release of "Sorry," it was announced that Rivera's debut album would not be released until 2014–three years after she signed her record deal. She told Rolling Stone, "It took a long time to figure out where I wanted to go musically."

That LP was later put on a permanent pause. "We are kind of halting production on the album because there are so many things going on," Rivera told Galore. "Politics got involved so I've been putting it on the back burner; there are a lot of things that I'm doing that I'm excited about." Um, okay.

In May 2014, Billboard reported that Rivera had been dropped by her label, citing her single's poor performance for the ditch. Once again, Rivera's camp sang a different tune, issuing a statement claiming the news about her nixed contract was merely a rumor that was "categorically false."

Her first feature film also flopped

In 2014, Rivera starred in the horror film At the Devil's Door. Director and screenwriter Nicholas McCarthy's sophomore effort premiered at South by Southwest in March 2014 and was released in limited theaters in September 2014. Reviews were lackluster. It garnered a Rotten Tomatoes score of 21 percent and a 47/100 from Metacritic

Rivera's acting, however, did attract praise from some critics. Edgar Chaput of Sound on Sight called her "the standout...the most natural performance in the film," and Jeremy Kibler of Diabolique Magazine said "the eye-grabbing Naya Rivera adjusts to the big screen with ease in front of the camera. Her [character] is headstrong and rigid but cut with just the right amount of vulnerability."

Unfortunately, the movie's overall mediocrity overshadowed Rivera's positive moment.

She's enjoying being a mom

In February 2015, Rivera and then-husband Ryan Dorsey announced that they were expecting their first child (via E! News :) "We're having a baby! Ryan and I feel so blessed and can't wait to welcome the newest member of our family." People confirmed that September that the Dorseys had welcomed a son named Josey Hollis.

Rivera opened up to VVV magazine (via Just Jared) about life as a mom: "I still feel like the same me but...now I have different priorities. Having someone else to look out for other than myself is a really beautiful thing, it gives you a whole new dimension of joy, and elevates your life in so many ways."

While being a mom keeps Rivera super busy, she has openly shared this aspect of her life with fans on social media. On Valentine's Day in 2017, she tweeted the two photos above with her little Valentine. She also posted a candid snap with the humorous caption: "I know this paparazzi must be thinking, 'do something more interesting than ALWAYS be at a grocery store!' #momlife #superexciting #shecutetho."

Her relationships became tabloid fodder

Rivera and Big Sean began dating in April 2013 after reportedly meeting on Twitter and got engaged in October of that year, according to E! News. While knee-deep in wedding planning, Rivera gushed to People that they were "just so in love."

However, the couple called off the engagement in April 2014, amid allegations that the rapper had cheated. His camp dismissed the claims to Us Weekly, stating that "the recent rumors and accusations reported by so called or fake sources are simply untrue." The statement said Big Sean had called off the wedding but wished "Naya nothing but the best."

According to E! News, shortly before news broke about their breakup, Rivera tweeted and then deleted: "@bigsean stealing rolexes from a lady's house now. Maybe cuz I'm on Glee and making more money or something. #trifling." (Ouch!)

As the relationship imploded, the exes traded barbs in their work: Big Sean released a track called "No More Interviews" and Rivera published a book called Sorry Not Sorry.

The highly publicized heartache continued

Following the break up, Rivera rebounded quickly–very quickly. On July 19, 2014, she married longtime friend, former flame, and fellow actor Ryan Dorsey—on the same day she'd planned to wed Big Sean. 

Discussing their secret wedding in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the newlyweds told People, "We feel truly blessed to be joined as husband and wife. Our special day was fated and everything we could have ever asked for."

However, after just more than two years together, Rivera filed for divorce, seeking primary custody of their son. The pair issued a joint statement to People: "After much consideration, we have made the decision to end our marriage. Our priority is and always will be our beautiful son that we share together. We will continue to be great co-parenting partners for him. We ask for respect and privacy for our family during this difficult time."

She has a bad reputation

Rivera has battled fierce rumors about her supposed on-set feuds with Glee co-star Lea Michele, about her so-called "unpredictability," and about her alleged termination from the show. 

Rivera has denied all of it. Her rep even released a statement to Us Weekly saying, in part, "Someone obviously has an agenda to damage Naya's good name and the media are failing at their duty to responsibly vet their sources and verify what is true and what is not. Naya's attorneys are prepared to take any and all legal action to enforce and protect her rights."

She's focused on charity work

Rivera may not be as busy as she once was in Hollywood, but she has certainly kept busy working on behalf of causes close to her heart. 

In 2014, she teamed up with Guillermo Diaz of Scandal to direct a short film for the first annual Immigration Heritage Month, organized by Welcome.us. That PSA was about the effects immigration has on parents and their children, with Rivera's portion, titled "Love, America," focusing on the problems immigrants face in the United States.

She's also used her celebrity status to advocate for LGBTQ rights and women's rights. She impressed as host of the GLAAD Media Awards in 2011 and again in 2012, when she co-hosted the evening with her Glee co-star, the late Cory Monteith. The two encouraged a bidding war in a kiss-off to raise money for the foundation. That same year, Rivera sang "Silent Night" at Trevor Live to benefit the LGBTQ youth organization.

Perhaps these aren't high-profile showbiz projects, but Rivera has clearly made charity work a priority.

She released a tell-all book

Rivera released her scandalous memoir Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up in September 2016. Publicized by Penguin Random House as "funny and deeply personal," the book recounts her "successes and missteps, urging young women to pursue their dreams and to refuse to let past mistakes define them."

The book generated a lot of buzz, and Rivera herself promised to deliver "juicy stories about my life. Glee, guys, growing up & much more." According to E! News, the actress delivered, dishing "about personal matters, like her secret abortion and her high school boob job," as well as piling dirt on Glee co-stars Michele, Monteith, Salling, her ex Big Sean, and even pop star Ariana Grande. The book undoubtedly pushed Rivera back into the spotlight, but spilling the tea about colleagues typically doesn't make one more marketable in Hollywood. 

She's working behind the scenes

Rivera has been passionate about writing for years. She began journaling and songwriting at age 15. "I needed an outlet to get things out," she told Hollywood the Write Way. "I look back at the journals and it is really embarrassing. (laughs) I like so and so but he doesn't like me stuff." Before her breakout role on Glee, she even completed a screenwriting course at the New York Film Academy.

Asked what she'd be doing if she weren't a singer and actress, Rivera told VVV magazine (via Just Jared,) "I'd probably be a writer in some form, either songwriting or screenplays. I really love writing and...that's one of the reasons I really wanted to write my book." Perhaps that's the direction Rivera's career is heading.

She tried to regroup in 2017

Following her split from Dorsey in late 2016, it seemed that Rivera was deservedly taking her time to regroup, focus on raising her son, and figure out her next move. "There's a lot in the air, but to be honest I'm taking some time to figure out exactly which project I really want to do next," she told VVV Magazine (via Just Jared.) "As much as I love singing, dancing and acting I really want to find a new balance between my work and my family life. My son Josey is now my number one priority, which eliminates all those long location projects."

She has a criminal record now

As if Rivera's personal life wasn't dramatic enough, in November 2017, she added a domestic battery charge to her romantic woes.

After calling off their divorce and reuniting with estranged husband Ryan Dorsey a month earlier, Rivera was arrested and charged with domestic battery after a physical altercation with Dorsey on Nov. 25, 2017. WOWK TV reported that Rivera and Dorsey were arguing about their son while visiting Dorsey's family in Chesapeake, Va. for the Thanksgiving holiday. Rivera was reportedly inebriated and allegedly hit Dorsey on the head and on his bottom lip; Dorsey told police that he had video of the incident. Police told the outlet that Rivera wasn't combative when taken into custody but was still inebriated.

The domestic battery charge carries a $500 fine and a maximum sentence of up to a year behind bars. Rivera was reportedly released from jail on a $1,000 bond when Dorsey's father picked her up. Her publicist declined to comment to any news outlets on the charge.

Someone who did comment? Ex Big Sean, who tweeted a video that many interpreted to be shade against his former fiancée.

Only time will tell what the outcome is of Rivera's criminal case—and if it will have a lasting effect on her showbiz career.