Marian Gracia Rivera, more popularly known as Marian Rivera (born August 12, 1984 in Madrid, Spain) is a Filipino actress and commercial model. Her first TV role came in 2005 via TAPE Inc.'s afternoon drama, Kung Mamahalin Mo Lang Ako. However, her breakout role did not come until 2007 when she was cast for the title role in the Philippine remake of MariMar.
Early life - Rivera was born in Madrid, Spain to an interracial couple; Spaniard named Francisco Javier Gracia and a Filipina named Amalia Rivera. When her parents separated 2 years after her birth, Rivera and her mom left Spain and flew back to her mother's hometown in the Philippines. However, her mother had to leave to continue her work commitment abroad that she was sent to her maternal grandmother, Francisca Rivera in Bacoor, Cavite.
Education - Rivera attended local private schools in Cavite including Saint Francis of Assisi College System where she spent her Elementary and High School years and De La Salle University-Dasmariñas for college. She had a 3-month practicum at the National Mental Hospital, after which she graduated with a degree in A.B. Psychology.
Early work - Rivera left her hometown to pursue a career as a ramp and commercial model. Not long after, she landed an appearance on TV advertisements for Skin White Lotion and Sky Flakes crackers where she was seen by TAPE Inc.'s executive producer, Tony Tuviera. From then on, she starred in a series of afternoon soap operas for TAPE Inc. and GMA Network such as Kung Mamahalin Mo Lang Ako, Agawin Mo Man Ang Lahat (where she was named as the Best New Female TV Personality at the 2006 PMPC Star Awards) and Pinakamamahal along with Oyo Boy Sotto as her main leading man. GMA Network then cast her into mother roles for the afternoon Philippine-Malaysian drama Muli with Alfred Vargas and the primetime telefantasya Super Twins.
MariMar - Rivera rose to fame when she won an audition for the title role of MariMar, the remake of the Mexican telenovela which starred Thalía. Before the auditions, Rivera knew little about the character as she was only 11 years old when the original soap opera aired on Philippine TV. Rivera then took the time out to do a research about the role over the internet. Other actresses who took part on the auditions were Nadine Samonte, Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado, Karylle, Jewel Mische, and Bianca King.
MariMar premiered on August 13, 2007 with a 36.6% rating. Her participation in the show led her to becoming a household name among the Filipino audiences that some would refer to her as Marimar/Bella even when she's out of her character, and with critics from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc. honoring her as Phenomenal TV Star in the 38th Box-Office Entertainment Awards.
Dyesebel - After MariMar, Rivera will play the role of Dyesebel Dingdong Dantes, who was her leading man in MariMar, will pair up with Rivera as Fredo.
In 2006, Rivera was casted in the horror movie, Pamahiin along with Dennis Trillo and Iya Villania. The following year, she starred in two MMFF movie entries: Bahay Kubo and Desperadas. Rivera's first leading movie opposite Richard Gutierrez is the romantic-comedy My Best Friend's Girlfriend. The film received positive reviews and was successful enough that it grossed over PHP140,000,000 at the box office.
Marian Rivera is set to do a romantic movie in 2008 tentatively titled Amnesia with Dingdong Dantes and Iza Calzado. She was supposed to be in a comedy film with Philippine top comedians Dolphy and Vic Sotto, but was later dropped according to the March 29, 2008 telecast of entertainment news program Startalk.
Following the success of the series MariMar, Rivera was featured on the cover of fashion magazines such as the Philippine editions of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, as well as Manual men's magazine. She was also chosen as an endorser for apparel brand Karimadon and shampoo brand Sunsilk along with Heart Evangelista, Nikki Gil and Maja Salvador. The Sunsilk campaign is the Philippine version on the product's Life Can't Wait campaign featuring Madonna, Shakira and Marilyn Monroe.
Rivera also appeared on the album cover of Marian Rivera Dance Hits, a compilation of dance music produced by Universal Records Inc., wherein she presented a dance choreography for each track. The said album has reached a Gold status, and later Platinum - being the first album released in the Philippines by a Filipino artist on the year 2008 to reach such status.