Born on February 15, 1986, in Los Angeles, California, Amber Riley was meant to be a performer. At 17, she auditioned for American Idol and continued to strive to make a name for herself after being turned down.
Riley filmed a pilot for the TV series St. Sass in 2002, which was never picked up, and eventually landed a role on Cedric the Entertainer Presents. Her breakout role came in 2009 upon starring as Mercedes Jones on Fox’s high school musical drama, Glee. The hit show earned Riley and her castmates a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Riley won the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2013, where she was partnered with Derek Hough. She appeared in The Wiz Live! for NBC in 2015, and she also starred in movies including Nobody’s Fool and on shows such as A Black Lady Sketch Show.
The actress formed a musical theater supergroup in 2017 with Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson called Leading Ladies. Riley is set to drop her debut EP as a solo artist in October 2020.