Shayla Rivera is an Aerospace Engineer and former Rocket Scientist with NASA turned salesperson, corporate trainer and Standup Comedian. Now she is a sought after Keynote Speaker, TV Host, Emcee/Host, Humorist, Comedian, Actor, Writer, Producer, Seminar Facilitator and Panel Moderator and much more. The ability to add humor to her message makes her unique and a favorite of corporations, educational organizations, and women groups. “I can do it in Spanish too!”, she adds.
However, none of these labels will tell you much about her. She best describes herself as spiritually irreverent, a Mystic and an Awareness Expert, in short, what many would call a Renaissance Woman.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera grew up with an avid awareness of the idiosyncrasies of human behavior, a major interest in science, and a great desire to learn about machinery and fixing things. Her parents always made it clear that going to college was paramount in order to have a successful personal and professional life. Rivera attended Texas A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and added a great number of additional credits in her other passion, Psychology. After graduation, Shayla joined McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she worked on the NASA Space Shuttle and Space Station programs.
Desiring to have more of a direct human contact in her daily work, Rivera left NASA and secured a position in Technical Sales of environmental systems and water treatment chemicals to the Chemical and refining industries in Houston TX. Her twist into sales eventually guided her onto becoming a Stress Management corporate trainer. Rivera began facilitating life-changing seminars on stress management for executives at companies around the Houston and then the country. Shortly thereafter, she began giving motivational speeches. While conducting seminars and giving speeches, Rivera was encouraged by many of her clients to pursue her comedic skills so she signed up for a weekend seminar on stand-up comedy, at the end of which she performed a five-minute routine which proved to be a personal turning point. “I had never felt so natural and comfortable,” Rivera recalled.
Almost immediately, Rivera became a regular at Comedy Clubs in Texas and shortly nationwide. She used her experiences to create the hit one-woman show “Rocket Science and Salsa,” directed by Debbie Allen for which Rivera earned a “Best Lead Actress” nomination by the NAACP Theater Awards, as well as a nomination for “Best Choreography” for Allen.
Rivera hosted the 13 episode TV series “You’re Not The Man I Married” for Lifetime Real Women Network and has appeared on television shows such as “Comics Unleashed,” “Xtreme Fakeovers,” “National Lampoon’s Funny Money,” “Funny is Funny” and many others. She has been a guest on the “The Dennis Miller Show,” “The Roseanne Show,” ”The Martin Short Show,” was featured in the “Paul Rodriguez Latin All Stars” and was part of the Comedy Central special, “Comedy Rehab” with Paul Rodriguez. She has headlined on entertainment programs for Univision, Galavision and on “The Latino Comedy Jam” for Telemundo. She was named “Funniest Latina Comedian” by the organization “Latin 2015.”
Shayla Rivera has been speaking and performing in both English and Spanish for over 22 years and has a broad appeal to men and women of all backgrounds. Her clients around the world include Fortune 500 companies, national and regional organizations, as well as students and faculty from elementary schools to colleges. Rivera often applies her expertise to host/emcee many fundraising events for non-profit organizations, charitable and educational programs as well as Award Galas and Conferences.
Shayla never forgot to give of herself if that meant she could help another. 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 Comedian Cantinflas did” and for her involvement in the community. In 2007, Rivera received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service Participation. In 2010, she received the Award for Excellence in Public Speaking by the Latino Speakers Bureau.
Rivera gives keynotes and performs live stand-up comedy worldwide and is extremely proud of her comedy and speaking tours for our servicemen and women stationed around the world from Greenland to Diego Garcia, Asia, Europe, Central America and the Middle East.
Rivera says, “My number one goal is to inspire, through laughter.” She has seen, first-hand, the impact the Latino population and culture has had in all levels of America and American corporations, organizations, and education and is focused on helping make this an opportunity that will benefit all and to have it occur as smoothly as possible. She jokes, “We are all the same, only different…once we understand this, we will be able to seize the opportunities that lie in our seeming differences.”
Shayla Rivera is not easily placed in just one category or class, she defines her own. She finally remarks, “Now I even can add Breast Cancer Survivor to my resume. I am grateful.”