Not only did Diana Maria Riva learn to act in Cincinnati, she also did some teaching – perfect preparation for her role on Matt LeBlanc's new CBS "Man with a Plan" comedy premiering Monday (8:30 p.m. Oct. 24, Channel 12, CBS).
Riva worked for the ArtReach Touring Theater (now the Children's Theater's TCT On Tour) after graduating from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
"I toured with ArtReach Touring Theater after I graduated from CCM, and then went on to teach drama for children. It was wonderful," says Riva, who plays Ms. Rodriquez, a stern kindergarten teacher for Adam Burns' (LeBlanc) youngest daughter.
She's the main antagonist for the former "Friends" star in the sitcom, refusing to let new stay-at-home dad get out of the "room parent" duties that his wife (Liza Snyder) signed up for before she returned to work as a hospital lab technician. In the second episode on Oct. 31, she stares him down, intimidating him into attending a parent-teacher seminar.
The Delhi Township native also drew on her memories of her second grade teacher at St. Antoninus School in Green Township for the character – in a good way.
"I had a lovely second-grade teacher who was just so loving and kind and a fantastic model for this character on 'Man With A Plan.' But unlike my second grade teacher, Ms. Rodriguez can throw down -- and she does with Matt LeBlanc," says Riva, known as Diana Uhlenbrock when she graduated from St. Ursula Academy and the CCM.
This isn't her first teaching job on CBS. Riva also played a teacher named "Sara" on Ray Romano's "Everybody Loves Raymond" in 1999 and 2001.
During her 20-year career in Hollywood, Riva has worked consistently in TV and movies, comedies and dramas. Earlier this year she was a regular on Eva Longoria's "Telanovela" sitcom, canceled by NBC in May.
Her credits include "NCIS: Los Angeles," "The West Wing," "Castle," "The X-Files," "NYPD Blue," "17 Again," "What Women Want," "Yes Dear," "Party of Five," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," "Drew Carey," "Less Than Perfect," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "In Plain Sight," "McFarland, USA," "Love and Mercy," "The Hughleys," "Saint George," "Side Order of Life," "The Ghost Whisperer," "Rob," "The Good Guys" and "Common Law."
"I do feel pretty fortunate to have been able to work so consistently in this business. It's been quite the ride," she says.
So she's done it all?
"Oh, there's plenty on my bucket list. I'd like to produce and would really like to direct," she says. "And I dream of doing a period piece film. If I'm on a horse and have a sword, even better!"