Yolanda Rivera: Who Is Naya Rivera’s Mother?

Naya called her mom 'the most incredible woman I will ever know' earlier this year.

Naya Rivera attends the 23rd Annual Race To Erase MS Gala
Angela Weiss / Getty Images for Race To Erase MS

Naya called her mom 'the most incredible woman I will ever know' earlier this year.

Naya Rivera has been reported missing and presumed dead after heading out on a rented boat with her 4-year-old son Josey Hollis Dorsey on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, on Wednesday, July 8. The 33-year-old former Glee star’s son was found asleep alone on the boat and wearing a life jacket, but Naya has yet to be found.

Born on January 12, 1987, Naya is the daughter of Yolanda and George Rivera, but just who is Yolanda?


Yolanda Is A Former Model And Got Naya Into Acting

Just like her daughter, Yolanda hasn’t shunned the spotlight. Born Yolanda Marie White, she initially moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career and was quick to get her daughter into acting roles when she was young.

Naya credited her mom, who is of Puerto Rican and African American ancestry, for helping her catch the acting bug in a 2009 interview with Nice Girls TV.

“My mom actually had moved [to Los Angeles] to pursue modeling, and so when she had me then, she just decided that I should go ahead and try my hand at it,” she explained.

Naya also shared that the two even shared the same agent when she was a youngster.

“I actually had the same commercial agent that she did when I was 8 months, 9 months old. So I’ve been doing it ever since then and I just grew to love it,” she said.

Yolanda helped her daughter get cast in a commercial for Kmart when she was still in diapers and later encouraged her to join a choir, something the star revealed she quit after a couple of weeks.

“My mom got me into acting and I never thought of doing anything else,” she said (via Hollywood The Write Way).

In May 2013, Maya shared a photo of her mom to Instagram showing off her model skills on a blanket while surrounded by food during an early Mother’s Day picnic they shared together.

The 54-year-old, who has retired from modeling, was married to Naya’s dad George Rivera from 1986 until 1996, and then married her current husband, Naya’s stepdad, Charles Previtire, in 1999. She’s also mom to Naya’s brother, Mychal, and sister, Nickayla.


Yolanda And Naya Were Close

Yolanda and her daughter had a close relationship that the star wasn’t afraid to show off on social media.

In a touching post for Yolanda’s birthday on February 4 of this year — which can still be seen on her Instagram account here — Naya had the sweetest words to say about her mom in the caption of an old photo of them together. It showed a young Yolanda smiling and looking over her shoulder as she held her baby daughter up with both hands.

“You are the epitome of beauty, the pinnacle of grace, the apple of my eye and the most incredible woman I will ever know. You are the center of the universe, a true spartan who blesses everyone you cross paths with. I love and admire you with all my heart and with every new year around the sun, I am grateful for you,” Naya captioned the photo.

She also commented on her mom’s laugh and encouraged her to “Bask in the love, joy, and world that you have created for yourself and all of us” on her special day.

In May 2015, Naya shared a throwback family photo with her millions of followers that included her mom, dad and siblings. She also posted another photo to her Instagram account of her and her mom looking all glammed up and posing together before an event in April 2013, which can be seen here.

Yolanda and her second husband Charles both attended Naya’s 2014 wedding to now ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, but her biological father did not.