vulture book club

All the Tea Naya Rivera’s Memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, Spills on Glee, Big Sean, and Ariana Grande

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Naya Rivera, known to viewers as the acid-tongued mean girl Santana from Glee, is also known to tabloid readers as an acid-tongued mean girl who allegedly keyed Mark Salling’s Lexus. But she’s here to set the record straight: He didn’t have a Lexus! The 29-year-old actress has published a tell-all book, Sorry Not Sorry, chronicling the roughly quarter of a century between her first major role as Hillary on Eddie Murphy’s The Royal Family to her time on Ryan Murphy’s musical extravaganza Glee. For a working actor, she’s refreshingly upfront, talking about fights on Glee, her philandering exes Big Sean and Mark Salling, her struggles with anorexia, her boob job, her abortion, and her marriage to her husband, Pitch’s Ryan Dorsey. Here at Vulture, we’ve read the book and culled the best moments from it. Grab a cookie — it’s tea time.

She was there when Redd Foxx died.
Rivera landed her first major role when she was 5 years old on CBS’s The Royal Family, created by Eddie Murphy and starring Della Reese and Redd Foxx. Rivera played the youngest grandchild, Hillary, and she says Foxx would tell people he was actually her grandfather, and she even started to believe him. When they were running lines, she remembered, “[A]ll of a sudden he kind of slumped over and fell to the floor.” When some people thought he was doing a bit, it was Della Reese who realized that something was wrong and called the ambulance. She remembers the entire cast and crew went to the hospital:

We sat there, his TV family and his real family, all mixed together in the waiting room, praying and trying to comfort one another. When the doctor came out to tell us that Redd had passed, he delivered the news to the entire group.

She loves her boob job!
Some of the money Rivera made as a child actor eventually went into her Coogan account, which she would be able to access once she turned 18. Her first major purchase was a boob job, which she loves: “More than ten years after I got my boobs, they still make me happy when I look in the mirror. It might have even been the best $8K I’ve ever spent.” In fact, her art teacher was so impressed by them, Rivera gave her a referral.

Rivera’s first kiss was with Tahj Mowry (yes, the little brother of Tia and Tamera!).
They met on a print shoot when they were 4, and their moms became friends. They were on-again-off-again for a while before he ended things because “he needed to date someone more on his financial level,” she writes. “Dick. We’re still friends.”

Mark Salling was a hot dumpster fire from the beginning.
Rivera met Salling on Glee in 2009, “when he was still a major looker,” she writes. She said their first date was right before Halloween, and he picked her up in “a complete piece-of-shit car with trash just rolling around in the backseat,” got stoned, took her to In-N-Out, and then to Fright Fest at Magic Mountain. “I just focused on his biceps and tried to ignore the cloud of marijuana smoke billowing around my head,” Rivera writes.

They dated for three years, but he wanted her to keep it a secret, because he said that his publicist wanted him to appear single. She says they would have large, dramatic fights, and she believed he was cheating on her.

She didn’t key Salling’s car; she dumped dog food and bird seed all over it.
Her first media scandal was an Us Weekly scoop claiming she had “keyed” Salling’s car in a “jealous fit.” After hearing “through other members of the cast” that Salling had sex with another woman, she and her best friend bought “dog food, Coca-Cola, eggs, and bird seed, and then dumped all that shit over his car” while he was away for a few days.

She adds that while she generally doesn’t regret any of her bad relationships, she draws the line at her relationship with Salling. “I think everyone should have that one relationship where you look back and ask yourself, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ You’ll learn something and you won’t regret it,” writes Rivera. “Unless, of course, that relationship was with someone who had a sizable stash of child porn on his computer. Then, by all means, regret everything.”

Big Sean: also trash.
She writes about her year dating and later becoming engaged to Big Sean in a chapter entitled “The Best Worst Year Ever.” She remembers the first time she realized that Big Sean was a selfish person, when she got news that her Glee co-star Cory Monteith had died.

I started to realize that I was dating an incredibly selfish person. I shook Sean awake and told him that Cory had just died. He just said, “Oh man, babe, I’m really sorry about that,” and rolled over and went back to sleep. I was crying and kept coming in and out of the room as I went out into the hallway to make phone calls, and he never got out of bed or even so much as sat up and turned on the light. This still blows my mind to this day.

And that time she saw little Ariana Grande in Big Sean’s house.
After the two got engaged after just six months of dating, she says that Sean became completely unresponsive. “I was starting to see that the realities of a relationship just weren’t sexy to a rapper who wanted to have his cake and not just eat it too but spread frosting all over the place. (Too much? Sorry not sorry!)” Then when he was avoiding her, she went to his house, only to find someone on his couch.

Guess what little girl is sitting cross-legged on the couch listening to music? C’mon, people, I’m not going to tell you, but you can guess because it’s not that hard! (It rhymes with “Smariana Schmande,” if you’re really having a hard time.)

Yes, Glee was just one big orgy.
All right, now, let’s get to the juicy stuff. She says the cast had “the sex drive of bunnies and the bed-hopping skills of a polygamist cult.” Rivera writes that they would party a lot at Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz’s house, which they nicknamed “the Love Nest” after a tabloid rumor called it that. She doesn’t give too many details, though, writing, “What happens at the Love Nest stays at the Love Nest.” She does recall one moment at McHale’s birthday when she and Cory Monteith were sharing an American Spirit cigarette and he asked her, “How come, out of everybody here, you and I have never hooked up?” He adds, “We’ve never even kissed!” Then she says that she “pecked” him, and it never came up again.

Then there’s some heavy innuendo that she hooked up with Chord Overstreet when he joined the cast for season two. Here’s how she describes the scene:

Any time a new person was added to the show, it was like fresh meat being dropped into a piranha tank. Eyebrows went up and hormones started churning at the thought of new hookup potential. Lucky for me, Chord Overstreet joined the cast right after Mark and I were donze, and the minute I saw him it was like a lightbulb went off. “You don’t know my drama with Mark,” I thought. “Hey,” I said to Chord, “let’s hang out!”

Rivera suggests Santana and Brittany didn’t get serious at first because of Fox.
Santana and Brittany (played by Heather Morris) become a canonical lesbian romance. But it took a little while. “In the beginning, Santana and Brittany, Heather’s character, were just allowed quick pecks, because the writers had to assure the network that they were just dipping their toes in the gay pool.”

Time for some Lea tea.
In the section “From one bitch to another… ,” Rivera writes that she wasn’t going to use the book to take down Lea Michele. “I have better things to write about,” Rivera writes. “I don’t hate Lea, and I never have.” But she thinks their relationship soured once she moved out of the background. “I think Rachel — erm, I mean Lea — didn’t like sharing the spotlight,” Rivera writes. “She had a hard time separating work from our outside friendship, whereas it was a lot easier for me … Lea was a lot more sensitive, though, and sometimes it seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong.”

And there was that time when she almost got fired from Glee.
For “Old Dogs, New Tricks,” the penultimate episode of season five, written by Chris Colfer, one Glee star pitched a fit about the animals on set, causing her to “amp up her bitch factor.” The unnamed actress then did the classic move where she “locked herself in her trailer, and refused to come out,” halting production. Eventually, Rivera was frustrated and walked up to the producer and told him, “If you would kindly get up and handle something — anything — that would be awesome.” She writes:

He lost it, and started screaming at me in front of the crew. “I’ve been running this show for six years!” he yelled.

Without raising my voice, I responded, “Yes. Poorly.”

Oooh, girl, wrong thing to say, cause after that, Nay Nay didn’t get asked back to work.

Rivera says that she and the producer cooled off over the summer and came to an understanding. The producer said he had nothing to do with rumors that she had been fired. “It sounded like there was a giant blinking arrow pointing right at a certain person,” Rivera writes. “So I guess you can throw a bitch fit, lock yourself in your trailer, and stall production, yet still allegedly find the time to leak stories to the press.” Who in Barbra Streisand’s nose could you be talking about, Naya?

Getting an abortion was one of the hardest decisions she’s ever had to make.
Rivera first started dating her husband, Ryan Dorsey, back when she was still on Glee, breaking up with him for what she admits was no good reason. After the split, she learned she was pregnant but decided to have an abortion, which she says was one of the most difficult decisions she’s ever made. “I don’t think I ever emotionally healed from the abortion,” she writes. “I think choosing to have an abortion is almost harder than choosing to have your own child, because you make that choice knowing, or at least suspecting, that many moments of your life will now be tinged with regret.”

Telling her husband about her abortion was when they got back together.
Before she told now-husband Dorsey about the abortion, she said she needed him to sign a confidentiality agreement. “This sounds like a dick move, but I was scared,” she writes. “I didn’t know how he would react.” After she told him, he said, “I wish I would have done something better, to make you feel like you could have trusted me with that information, because I would have loved to be there for you.” They later got married and now have a baby boy, Josey.

The Tea From Naya Rivera’s Book Sorry Not Sorry