Shayla Rivera has been named "Funniest Latina Comedian" by the prestigious organization "Latin 2015". Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera grew up with an avid interest in science, machinery and fixing things. Rivera’s family always encouraged her to go to college and have a professional career.
Rivera attended Texas A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering. Then she joined McDonnell-Douglas Space Systems at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, working on NASA’s shuttle and space station programs for the next eight years. Stymied by a lack of enthusiasm for her field, Rivera left to pursue her abiding interest in psychology and became a motivational speaker. She worked extensively as a corporate trainer, holding seminars on stress management for executives at companies around the country. It was while she was conducting seminars that Rivera discovered her comedic skills. Rivera signed up for a weekend class on stand-up comedy, at the end of which she performed a five-minute routine. It was a rousing success and a personal turning point. “I knew I had found what I was looking for,” Rivera recalled.
Almost immediately Rivera became a regular at the Comedy Showcase in Houston, where she honed her act for the next four years. She gave up her day job and went on the road. Still, Rivera found her new career floundering. “As a scientist, I had to compete and prove myself in a male-dominated profession, but I felt accepted as an equal,” Rivera observed. “In comedy, I found ,well you can imagine..." She persevered, continued to work widely on the comedy circuit, and in 1999 moved to Los Angeles with the goal of going on television. She used her experiences to create the hit one-woman show “Rocket Science and Salsa,” directed by Debbie Allen, in which Rivera earned a "Best Lead Actress" nomination by the NAACP Theater Awards, as well as Allen a nomination for "Best Choreography" for the same. She has appeared on television in “Girls Behaving Badly,” “Ultimate Revenge”, "Extreme Fakeover", "National Lapoon’s Funny Money", “Funny is Funny" among others. She was a guest on “The Roseanne Show” and “The Martin Short Show" and featured in the "Paul Rodriguez Latin All Stars." She has also headlined on entertainment programs for Univision, Galavision and on “The Latino Comedy Jam” for Telemundo, “Comics Unleashed” with Byron Allen, “Dennis Miller Show”.
In 2004, Rivera received the “Mario Moreno Cantinflas Award” presented by the city of Los Angeles in recognition of entertainers who "represent the Latino Community with the same humor as the great Cantinflas did" and for her involvement in the community. Rivera continues to perform live nationwide and is very proud of her tours to entertain US troops in Iraq. In addition, she applies her expertise as a motivational speaker to help many non-profit organizations, charitable and educational programs. In 2007, Rivera received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service Participation.