Amber Patrice Riley
February 15, 1986
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Partner(s)||DeSean Black (engaged)|
|Associated acts||Leading Ladies|
Amber Patrice Riley (born February 15, 1986), sometimes known mononymously as RILEY, is an American actress, singer, author, and activist. She is best known for her portrayal of Mercedes Jones on the Fox comedy-drama series Glee (2009–2015). For her performance on the series, she won a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has been nominated for three Teen Choice Awards, three NAACP Image Awards, and a Grammy Award.
In November 2016, Riley led the West End debut of Dreamgirls, playing the lead role of Effie White. She won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2017 for her role in Dreamgirls.
Riley won season 17 of Dancing with the Stars in 2013. In 2017, Riley appeared as a judge on BBC One musical theatre talent show Let It Shine and formed a musical theatre supergroup with Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson, known collectively as Leading Ladies and signed to East West Records/Warner. Their debut album, Songs from the Stage, was released on November 17, 2017.
Riley was born in Los Angeles County, California, with a mother of the maiden name Hightower. She has two older sisters, Toiya and Ashley. Riley auditioned for American Idol when she was 17 years old, during the show's second season, but was turned down by the producers. She graduated from La Mirada High School in La Mirada, California in 2004.
2009-2019: Breakthrough with Glee and other appearances
In 2008, Riley was cast in the role of Mercedes Jones on the comedy-drama television series Glee, and appeared as a main cast member for all but one of the six seasons—she received guest star credit during season 5. Riley performed numerous solos throughout the series' run, including "Respect", "Bust Your Windows", "Hate on Me", "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", "Beautiful", "Bridge over Troubled Water", "I Look to You", "Ain't No Way", "Try a Little Tenderness", "Spotlight", "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and, three days after Whitney Houston's death, performed a tribute version of "I Will Always Love You". She also played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the episode "The Rocky Horror Glee Show", singing the lead on the song "Sweet Transvestite" to generally positive reviews from critics. For her role as Mercedes Jones, Riley won a Screen Actors Guild Award and received nominations for three NAACP Image Awards and three Teen Choice Awards.
Riley appeared at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and later sang the national anthem at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She also co-wrote a track titled "Leave a Light On" for British group The Saturdays, which is featured on their album Living for the Weekend. In January 2014, Riley and her sister Ashley launched a plus size online clothing boutique, Rileyland Fashions. She also models the garments. Riley's debut single, "Colorblind", premiered live on April 3, 2014, on The Queen Latifah Show. The song was written by Emeli Sandé, Claude Kelly and Steve Mac, and was released as a digital download on April 8, 2014. It was expected to be the lead single off her debut album. The song was also performed by Riley on Glee. In 2015, it was reported that Riley would star in a Christmas television film, her first movie role, and her first acting role, since Glee. In December 2015, she portrayed Addaperle, the Good Witch of the North, in NBC's live performance of The Wiz. In February 2016, it was announced that Riley would portray the lead role of Effie White in Dreamgirls, at the Savoy Theatre in London's West End, beginning performances in November 2016. Riley recorded a number of tracks for Todrick Hall's visual album Straight Outta Oz.[better source needed]
In 2017, Riley teamed up with British singers Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson to form a musical theatre supergroup, known collectively as the Leading Ladies. Their debut album, Songs from the Stage, was released on November 17, 2017 and features covers songs from Cats, Beautiful and Rent among others.
Dancing with the Stars
In 2013, Riley won the seventeenth season of ABC's dancing competition Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with the show's one and only six-time champion, Derek Hough. Riley and Hough tied the record for highest first-week score of 27, received 5 perfect scores of 30, and only received a score lower than 8 one time. Riley is the first African-American woman to win Dancing With the Stars.
|Week #||Dance/song||Judges' score||Result|
|5||Foxtrot/"Try a Little Tenderness"||9||7||10||Safe|
|6||Samba/"Get It Right"
|7||Paso Doble/"Diablo Rojo"
Group Dance Freestyle/"The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)"
|8||Rumba/"If I Could Turn Back Time"||9||92||10||Safe (Immunity)|
Salsa (Trio challenge)3/"Que Viva la Vida"
|Jazz/"Locked Out of Heaven"
Viennese Waltz/"Locked Out of Heaven" (Acoustic Version)
Samba relay/"No Scrubs"
Freestyle/"Can You Do This"
|Quickstep & Samba Fusion/"(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"||10||10||10||Won|
|1In week four, judge Len Goodman was absent and guest judge Julianne Hough filled in for him.|
2In week eight, judge Len Goodman was absent and guest judge Cher filled in for him.
3The dancer Hough and Riley chose for the Trio Challenge is Mark Ballas.
4Scores from guest judge Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
On February 28, 2020 Riley confirmed she finished recording songs for her debut extended play. Following her Jimmy Kimmel Live! performance on August 28 it was announced her EP would be released on October 2. She later confirmed she would be performing under the name "Riley" (stylized in all caps as "RILEY") and released the single "A Moment" on September 4. "BGE" (initialism for big girl energy) was released as the second single from the EP on September 18, alongside its music video. The EP was released on October 2, 2020, featuring a total of six tracks. On October 8, 2020 she released a music video for the track "Creepin'".
|2002||St. Sass||Toby||Unsold pilot|
|2009–2015||Glee||Mercedes Jones||Main role (seasons 1—4, 6); Recurring role (season 5); 93 episodes|
|2010||The Simpsons||Aiesha (voice)||Episode: "Elementary School Musical"|
|2011||Glee: The 3D Concert Movie||Mercedes Jones||Concert film|
|2012||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself / Guest judge|
|2013||Dancing with the Stars||Herself / Contestant||Season 17 winner|
|2014||Dancing with the Stars||Herself / Performer||Season 18, episode: "The Finals Award Show"|
|2015||My One Christmas Wish||Jackie Turner||Television film|
|2015||The Wiz Live!||Addaperle||Television special|
|2016||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Dream Ghost #2||Episode: "Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!"|
|2016||Straight Outta Oz||Brenda||Television film|
|2017||Let It Shine||Herself / Guest judge||Auditions stage|
|2019||A Black Lady Sketch Show||Lori||2 episodes|
|2019||The Little Mermaid Live!||Emcee||Special|
|2020||Whose Line is it Anyway?||Herself|
|TBD||Dream||TBD||Lead role; Upcoming NBC series|
|2012||Cotton Club Parade||Performer||New York City Center, Off-Broadway|
|2016–2017||Dreamgirls||Effie White||Savoy Theatre, West End|
|2019||Little Shop of Horrors||Audrey II||Pasadena Playhouse|
|"Colorblind"||2014||Glee: the Music, Bash|
|"Someone You Loved"||2020||Non-album Single|
|2013||"Never Be Lonely"
(with Eric Bellinger)
|In The Meantime|
(with Eric Zayne)
|"This Is What It Feels Like"
(with Kenyon Dixon)
|2016||"Lions and Tigers and Bears"||Straight Outta Oz|
|"See Your Face"|
|"#ChangeRightNow"||I Am Major|
|2017||"Anybody Who Knows What Love Is"
(with Boyz II Men)
|Under the Streetlight|
|2019||"I'm A Mess"
(with Kenyon Dixon)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 1 (2009)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 2 (2009)
- Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna (2010)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (2010)
- Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals (2010)
- Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One (2010)
- Glee: The Music, Best of Season One (2010)
- Glee: The Music, The Rocky Horror Glee Show (2010)
- Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album(2010)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 4 (2010)
- Glee: The Music, Love Songs (2010)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 5 (2011)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 6 (2011)
- Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2011)
- Glee: The Music, Dance Party (2011)
- Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2 (2011)
- Glee: The Music, Volume 7 (2011)
- Glee: The Music, The Graduation Album (2012)
- Glee: The Music, The Complete Season Two (2012)
- Glee: The Music, The Complete Season Three (2012)
- Glee: The Music Presents Glease (2012)
- The Quarterback (Music from the TV Series) (2013)
- Glee: The Music, The Complete Season Four (2014)
- Glee: The Music - Celebrating 100 Episodes (2014)
- Glee: The Music, Bash (2014)
- Glee: The Music, Tested (2014)
- Glee: The Music, Opening Night (2014)
- Glee: The Music, The Back Up Plan (2014)
- Glee: The Music, Old Dog, New Tricks (2014)
- Glee: The Music, The Untitled Rachel Barry Project (2014)
- Glee: The Music, Homecoming (2015)
- Glee: The Music, What the World Needs Now is Love (2015)
- Glee: The Music, Transitioning (2015)
- Glee: The Music, A Wedding (2015)
- Glee: The Music, 2009 (2015)
- Glee: The Music, Dreams Come True (2015)
- The Wiz Live! (2015)
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 1, Vol. 2) (2016)
- Dreamgirls (Original London Cast Recording) (2017)
- The Little Mermaid Live! (2019)
Awards and nominations
|2010||Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Female Scene Stealer||Glee||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice Music: Group (shared with Glee cast)||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Won|
|2011||Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Female Scene Stealer||Nominated|
|2012||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|2013||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|2017||Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Dreamgirls||Won|
|Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Evening Standard Award for Best Musical Performance||Won|
|2018||Classic Brit Award for Album of the Year||Songs from the Stage||Nominated|
- Amber Riley verified Twitter account. Retrieved on June 4, 2020. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. "Amber Patrice Riley"
- Sole Amber Patrice Riley born in California in this timeframe: "The Birth of Amber Riley". California Birth Index. Archived from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
...her mother's maiden name is Hightower.Note: Gives siblings names as Benson and Ashley.
- Snetiker, Marc (February 4, 2016). "Amber Riley to play Effie in West End Dreamgirls". Entertainment Weekly.
- "'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' Wins a Record Nine Olivier Awards (Full List)". Variety. April 9, 2017.
- "Amber Riley, Derek Hough win 'Dancing with the Stars'". Fox News. November 27, 2013.
- Ingrassia, Lisa (May 17, 2010). "Glee's Amber Riley: "I Love My Body"". People. Vol. 73 no. 19. Archived from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
...growing up in La Mirada, Calif. ... But like her older sisters Toiya, 34, and Ashley, 26... [In sidebar] Age: 24.
- "Glee Star Amber Riley On Idol Rejection: "I Still Work On Fox And Get Paid"". Access Hollywood. September 30, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "Dish Of Salt: Glee Premiere Party, LA (September 8, 2009)". Access Hollywood. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "Glee Exclusive: 4 Original Cast Members Not Returning as Series Regulars for Season 5". TVLine. June 28, 2013.
- Wetzel, Jerome (October 26, 2010). "TV Review: Glee – "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"". Blogcritics. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
- "'Glee,' Season 2, Episode 5, 'Rocky Horror Glee Show': TV Recap". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
- "GLEEks! Kevin McHale & Amber Riley Are Guest Hosting AT40 This Weekend!". AT40. August 10, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "ASCAP Search Result for 'The Saturdays'". ASCAP.
- "Glee's Amber Riley Premieres 'Colorblind'". QueenLatifah.com. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "'Glee's' Amber Riley to Star in Christmas TV Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Roots, Kimberly (August 6, 2015). "Glee's Amber Riley, OITNB's Uzo Aduba Join NBC's The Wiz Live". TVLine. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Snetiker, Marc (February 4, 2016). "Amber Riley to play Effie in West End Dreamgirls". Entertainment Weekly.
- "Todrick Hall Is Straight Outta Oz In This Emotional, Star-Studded Visual Album Featuring Nicole Scherzinger, Perez Hilton, & More! Watch!". PerezHilton.com. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
- "Leading Ladies: starring Beverley Knight, Cassidy Janson and Amber Rile". londontheatre1.com. London Theatre. November 8, 2017.
- "Little Shop of Horrors". pasadenaplayhouse.org. Pasadena Playhouse. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
- Derschowitz, Jessica (September 4, 2013). "'Dancing with the Stars': Leah Remini, Valerie Harper, Snooki among new cast". CBS News.
- @MsAmberPRiley (February 28, 2020). "Prepare yourselves. She's comin" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @MsAmberPRiley (September 2, 2020). "RILEY is always spelled in ALL CAPS" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @MsAmberPRiley (September 2, 2020). "Available on all streaming platforms, this Friday, 9/4. "A Moment" #RILEY" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @MsAmberPRiley (September 18, 2020). "Hey y'all! It's finally here! I got that #BIGGIRLENERGY. Check out the premiere of the new visual for #BGEmovement" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @MsAmberPRiley (October 8, 2020). "Official Creepin' Video is OUT NOW!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Riley - EP by RILEY on Apple Music
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amber Riley.|
|Awards and achievements|
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough
| Dancing with the Stars (US) winners
(Fall 2013 with Derek Hough)
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy