Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Zuleyka Rivera knew from an early age that she was destined for a life spent in the limelight. Though she has always harbored dreams of becoming a world-renowned actress, Rivera found that she possessed the sort of beauty that would make onlookers stop dead in their tracks — something that certainly intensified as she moved quickly through puberty. Rivera’s subsequent decision to enter 2006’s Miss Puerto Rico competition didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone around her, though nobody was more shocked than when she was announced as the winner of the prestigious competition.
As a result of her victory, Zuleyka Rivera found herself traveling to Los Angeles as Puerto Rico’s official competitor for the title of Miss Universe. The grueling competition found Rivera facing off against beautiful women from around the world, and, after dominating runners-up from Japan and Switzerland, she was finally awarded the crown by presenters Carlos Ponce and Nancy O’Dell. Though her reign came to an end less than a year later, Rivera wasted little time in using her increased notoriety to land other opportunities for herself. Staying true to her childhood desire to become an actress, Rivera made her professional debut on the Spanish-language telenovela Dame chocolate.
Since handing off her Miss Universe crown to Japan’s Riyo Mori at the Miss Universe 2007 pageant, she’s continued to follow her dreams of becoming an actress. Since her debut in Dame chocolate, she’s appeared in three other Spanish-language TV series: Alguien te mira, Qué Despelote! La película and Aurora. And all the while, she’s helping to keep Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea in the spotlight. The couple has been dating since the fall of 2010.