Zuleyka Rivera – The ‘Despacito’ Girl

Zuleyka Jerrís Rivera Mendoza is a renowned Puerto Rican actress, Television host, model and dancer. Rivera is a former beauty pageant holder, having won the Miss Puerto Rico Universe title in 2006. She then represented her country at the International Miss Universe pageant, held in Los Angeles, California, in 2006 and went on to win the title. Rivera made her acting debut in 2007 with the Spanish language telenovela ‘Dame chocolate’ that aired on the Telemundo television network.

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Rivera started gaining recognition as an actress after appearing in antagonistic roles in several Spanish language telenovelas. She has played several characters with dark shades in various telenovelas including ‘Alguien Te Mira’, ‘Aurora’, ‘ Rosario’ and ‘Cosita Linda’. Apart from her television roles, Rivera also featured in the popular 2017 music video by Luis Fonsi, ‘Despacito’, which is currently YouTube’s most watched video.

Early Life and Education

Rivera was born on 3 October 1987 in Cayey, Puerto Rico as the only daughter of her parents, mother Carmen Mendoza and father Jerry Rivera and raised along with her siblings in the neighbourhood of Salinas. She has two siblings, brothers named Jerry Jr. and Jose Rivera. Rivera has mixed African and Indigenous, native ancestry.

Rivera attended school in Salinas from where she also completed her high school education. She started her journey as a beauty pageant contestant by participating in a local beauty pageant in Salinas as a young girl, of which she was declared winner. She also participated in the Miss Teen pageant in Puerto Rico where she finished as the first runner up. 


Career Rise

Rivera represented Puerto Rico at the Miss Universe 2006, televised live from Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California. She was crowned Miss Universe 2006 on 23 July 2006, and became one of the youngest winners of the pageant, having won it at the age of 18 years. She became the fifth contestant from Puerto Rico to be crowned Miss Universe. As a Miss Universe winner, Rivera became a representative of the Miss Universe Organization and was based in New York City, USA to fulfil her reign duties. She travelled to several countries including Japan, Indonesia, France, Czech Republic, Russia, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and India as part of her duties.

After completing her term as Miss Universe, Rivera embarked upon a career in acting, making her acting debut with the Spanish language telenovela ‘Dame Chocolate’ in 2007. She started appearing in another telenovela titled ‘Alguien Te Mira’, in which she essayed the character of Rocío Lynch, appearing in her first role as an antagonist. The role drew her praise and she was offered another negative role in the series ‘Aurora’ in which she played Diana del Valle. She made a cameo appearance in the 2010 film ‘Qué despelote! la película’. Rivera’s next role was in the 2012 telenovela ‘Rosario’ in which she essayed the antagonist Sandra Díaz as well as the 2014 telenovela ‘Cosita Linda’ in which she played Viviana Robles. Recently, Rivera appeared in the 2017 hit music video ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonzi featuring Daddy Yankee.


In 2010, Rivera entered into a relationship with J. J. Barea who serves as a point guard on the National Basketball Association team Dallas Mavericks. Rivera became pregnant with Barea’s child and in July 2011, announced that she was expecting a son. In February 2012, the couple welcomed their son Sebastián José Barea Rivera who was born in Minnesota, USA with Barea in attendance during the child’s birth.

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In early 2013, speculation was rife that the couple had parted ways, but Rivera continued to assert that they were very much together in several interviews. While Barea confirmed the end of their relationship in a statement released to the Press, Rivera continued to maintain that they were doing their best to be together for the sake of their child.

Zuleyka Rivera – Pictures  


Zuleyka Rivera – Net Worth

Rivera has an estimated net worth of $5 Million.

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