Naya Rivera: Ready for Anything

Becoming a parent has given Glee actress Naya Rivera laser-like focus. She's lost 60 pounds of baby weight, navigated her son's infant milestones, and written her first book. The onetime nanny is thriving on the adventure of motherhood!

naya Rivera Cover Image
Naya Rivera is headed to the gym—a place the 29-year-old has become very familiar with since having son Josey just 8 months ago. The star, who played singing cheerleader Santana Lopez on Glee for six seasons, has worked tirelessly for her newly rockin' bod. "I completely let myself go when I was pregnant," says Rivera, who adds she craved meats and sweets. "Weight wasn't something I wanted to focus on, so I ate anything and everything and had a blast. Afterward, I was, like, 'Let's get back to business.'" She shares with us how being a mom has inspired her to set new goals and reach them.


Be a Team Player With Your Partner


Call it maternal instinct: Rivera had a feeling she was pregnant. When the at-home test came back positive, she called her husband, actor Ryan Dorsey, who was onset working on the FX original series Justified. "I said, 'I'm on my way to the doctor to see if this is real.'" It was!


When they found out they were expecting a son, Dorsey was passionate about using the name Josey. "Ryan already had it picked out before we were even married," explains Rivera. "You know you have those conversations as a couple—like, 'If we had kids, here's what I'd want to name them?' Well, Ryan had said if he had a boy he'd really want to name him Josey. So we went with that." For Josey's middle name, they settled on Hollis, which is a Dorsey family name. "Ryan is a very hands-on, loving, and nurturing dad," she says. "If Josey doesn't want to go to sleep, Ryan will bust out his guitar and play him some songs, and Josey will fall asleep immediately. It's the cutest thing to watch." 


Naya Rivera Wearing Pink Skirt JUSTIN COIT
Learn as You Go


Pre-fame, Rivera worked as a nanny of two boys, ages 7 months and 2 years, for a little over a year. "I was thrown up on and pooped on, so I knew what I was getting into!" she laughs. She wasn't surprised, for instance, at the number of diapers their household goes through. "But I think Ryan was. He changed Josey's first diaper in the hospital, which was hilarious, because Josey just kept continually pooping."


Still, knowing some of what to expect in caring for a baby didn't make her immune to all the normal new-mom anxieties. "You're always going to wonder if you're doing things wrong, but that's what it means to be a mom, to care so much about someone else that you just want to be as perfect as possible," she says.


Rivera trusts her gut when it comes to posting on social media. She loves to share with her 1.5 million Instagram followers and 1.7 million Twitter fans. "I try to keep [shots of Josey] to a minimum," she says. "Don't get me wrong. I want to post photos of him every day because he's so cute, but I try to just post mostly on holidays, because some things should be kept private. Obviously, doing a magazine cover with him was a big decision, but I know it's something we'll look back on and cherish."


Naya Rivera Holding Son Naya Rivera Holding Baby Wearing Blazer
Battle Against the Baby Weight


Rivera dropped all sugary snacks as soon as Josey was born. She says the combination of nursing, healthy eating, and low-impact exercise helped the first 30 pounds come off. But she knew the second half of her 60-pound weight gain was going to take a lot more effort. "My closet was divided in half: On one side were maternity clothes and on the other side were clothes I thought I would never wear again," she says.


Since she knew she wanted to be back in front of a camera, Rivera made getting in shape a career goal and invested in hiring a trainer. "I know I'm lucky. Not all moms can afford one," she confesses. "But I'm not really self-motivated. And I don't know what to do at the gym. I always feel lost. [Without a trainer] I'd probably just end up not working out, and then go to the steam room."


Rivera began taking spin classes three days a week, and the trainer focused on her core during workouts. "I did a lot of weight training, which I had never done before," Rivera says. "I was wearing maternity gear while working my butt off." One advantage she was happy to have: She had been in shape before getting pregnant, thanks to years of dancing as a character on Glee. "Muscle memory luckily kicked in," she says.


Four months after Josey was born, that magic moment happened: She could fit into a pair of her favorite leather pants again. Says Rivera, "I was, like, 'Yes!'" 


Naya Rivera Wearing Grey Jumpsuit JUSTIN COIT
Thank Your Mom


The self-described multitasker finished her first book, a memoir, about a week before giving birth to Josey. Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes and Growing Up will hit stores this September. Now that she has written about her Los Angeles childhood and has had a child of her own, she says her relationship with her mother has become even stronger. "If I'm a fraction of the mother my mom is, I'll be happy," she says. "Very happy."


"I have these 'aha' moments about motherhood all the time. For instance, when it was my birthday earlier this year, I called my mom and said, 'I totally get it now; birthdays are for the parents.' Now I understand that the day you give birth to your child, and see him for the first time, will always be such a special day."

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