Singer-thesp was on cusp of English-lingo TV breakthrough

Profile of Jenni Rivera from Variety’s Women’s Impact Report in October

Jenni Rivera, the Latin music and TV superstar who was on the cusp of a crossover move into English-lingo TV, was presumed dead after her chartered plane crashed early Sunday following takeoff in Monterrey, Mexico. She was 43.

Mexican authorities confirmed Sunday afternoon that the wreckage had been found and there were no survivors among the seven people believed to be on board.

Rivera, a native of Long Beach, Calif., was known as the Diva of Banda, having logged numerous platinum-selling records in the regional Mexican music genre. Her profile in the U.S. was boosted by the success of the Mun2 reality series “I Love Jenni,” which documented the vivacious singer’s jet-set life as an entertainer, entrepreneur and mother of five children.

Her daughter, Chiquis Marin, is also the subject of a Mun2 reality skein, “Chiquis ‘n Control,” which bowed earlier this year. Rivera’s four brothers are also prominent figurers in the Mexican music biz.

Earlier this month, Rivera inked a deal with ABC to develop her own sitcom. At a time when major media companies are eagerly courting Latino viewers, Rivera was well-positioned for crossover stardom. She had a role in the 2012 indie drama “Filly Brown,” about the Mexican music biz.

Rivera’s death is sure to reverberate through Latino pop culture. Spanish-lingo nets Telemundo and Mun2 quickly scheduled two-hour primetime specials on Sunday devoted to her life and career.

Rivera had given a concert Saturday night in Monterrey. The U.S.-registered Learjet lost contact with aviation authorities shortly after takeoff at about 3:30 a.m. It had been scheduled to arrive at Toluca, outside Mexico City, an hour later, according to the Associated Press. Six other people were believed to be on the plane, including her publicist, lawyer and makeup artist, all of whom were known to viewers of “I Love Jenni.”

Rivera’s by-the-bootstraps rise to fame is well-known in Latin pop culture circles. Her parents were both Mexican immigrants; her father, Don Pedro Rivera, was active in the music biz and had his own label.

Rivera became pregnant at 15 but continued her education, studying business administration in college. She obtained a real estate license, but eventually shifted her focus to music. She signed with Capitol/EMI’s Latin division and released her first album, “Chacalosa,” in 1995. She later recorded for Sony’s Latin imprint and top Mexican label Fonovisa.

Among Rivera’s signature tunes were “La Gran Senora” and “De Contrabando.”

In 2010, Mun2 tapped Rivera and her daughter Chiquis for the reality skein “Jenni Rivera Presents: Chiquis & Raq-C.” That show led to the launch of “I Love Jenni” in 2011. “Jenni” ranks among Mun2’s most-watched shows.

Rivera was slated to play a middle-class single mother in the ABC comedy that was in the works through ABC Studios from sitcom vets Robert Boyett and Robert Horn.

Rivera recently launched a line of cosmetics and had been working on her autobiography. Recognizing that her showbiz clout was growing, Variety selected Rivera as one of notable femmes to watch in this year’s Women’s Impact Report (Daily Variety, Oct. 5).

Off screen, Rivera was known for her tumultuous love life, after suffering abuse at the hands of her first husband while her second husband cheated on her. After Saturday’s concert, she spoke at a post-concert press conference about the recent end of her third marriage, to baseball player Esteban Loaiza.

“I can’t get caught up in the negative because that destroys you. Perhaps trying to move away from my problems and focus on the positive is the best I can do,” she said, according to the AP. ” I am a woman like any other and ugly things happen to me like any other women. The number of times I have fallen down is the number of times I have gotten up.”

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