May 24th, 2011
12:16 PM ET
"Glee" mean girl Santana struggled for weeks with her sexuality before finally admitting her true feelings for fellow Cheerio Brittany. While Santana may have had a tough time addressing the fact that she is a lesbian, Naya Rivera, the actress who portrays her, couldn't be happier.
"I didn't know where they were going to take the story line, but I ended up having a lot of fun playing with it," she tells the L.A. Times. "I've gotten to show off different sides of who Santana is, and I've gotten an overwhelmingly great response."
In fact, Rivera says, it was the show's fans who pushed for BFFs Brittany and Santana to become an item. "Who knows if the writers would have taken that relationship so seriously if there hadn't been such an outpouring for them to get together," she says.
Rivera, who has been acting since age 4, admits that she never thought she'd be playing a teen lesbian on TV.
"I didn't think it was going to go this far," she says of Santana's self-discovery. "But I'm glad that it did, because there have been a lot of fans who have expressed that they've been going through similar situations in their lives. I've heard from girls that are in high school, they're 16, 17, and they're like, 'I came out to my mom,' or 'I came out to my friends, and thank you for helping me do that.'"
Of course there are others, like former "Saturday Night Live" comic Victoria Jackson, who have criticized "Glee" for its gay themes and characters.
"We just laugh it off," says Rivera. "Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but I know that for those of us who play gay characters on the show, we feel very happy and honored and lucky to be a part of that. I think the show is just as much revered for that as we are chastised, so it evens out."
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