It is the second summer of Glee, and everything’s coming up Naya Rivera. In the last couple of weeks, Rivera snagged the top spot on our own Hot 100, landed on nearly every second season “best performances” list, picked up a gig hosting the GLAAD Media Awards. And now, in an interview with Billboard magazine, Columbia Records VP Theresa Labarebera Whites, has announced that Rivera has scored herself a solo album.
This is brilliant news for a variety of reasons; the first being that Rivera is a talented, gracious, gorgeous human being who has been working in the industry since she was four years old, and she deserves every bit of success that comes her way. The second is that art like “Trouty Mouth” makes the world an infinitely better place and we all need more of it in our lives. And the third is that Rivera’s recent career trajectory is a direct result of Santana Lopez coming out as a lesbian.
There was a time, not too terribly long ago, when straight actors who played gay characters spent their free time toggling between public professions of heterosexuality and perpetual verbal vomit about not wanting to be type-cast as queer. Rivera has done the exact opposite, embracing her standing in the LGBT community, and even going as far as crediting us with her success. Which, in many ways, is absolutely true.
Rivera was tapped to play a one-note character we’ve seen a gazillion times before: The bitchy cheerleading minion. It was the bi-curious bit with Brittany that propelled her into series regular territory, and it was Santana’s struggle with her sexuality that fully launched her into the spotlight. Over the course of the second season, Santana became the most emotionally resonant, narratively consistent character on the show. The more depth the writers gave Santana, the better Rivera became.
Right around the time her “Songbird” cover aired during “Rumors,” dozens of mainstream media outlets started asking: “Can we please give Naya Rivera an Emmy?”
It was also right around that time that record companies started asking: “Can we please give Naya Rivera a solo album?”
Because, yes, she is gorgeous. And yes, she has masterful comedic timing. But also — Dayum, that girl can sing. And we’re not talking auto-tuned synthpop shenanigans. We’re talking soulful, textured, unadorned tunes that make your heart thump and your eyes mist. We’re talking “Lea Michele, we love you, but hush for just a second.”
2011 has become Naya Rivera’s Year of Yes. Yes to super-stardom. Yes to a record deal. And, if we have our way, yes to an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy.
Maybe 2011 can also be the year we finally also acknowledge that going gay really pays — and not just in AfterEllen.com Hot 100 Bucks and eternal lesbian loyalty.
What kind of album would you like to see Rivera release?