Amber Riley Reveals What's on the 'Glee' Group Text and Her Biggest Pet Peeve (Exclusive)
By Rachel McRady
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It's been more than six years since Amber Riley appeared as her character, Mercedes Jones, on Glee, but the memorable role still follows her around.
ET's Lauren Zima spoke with Riley, 35, about her new thriller project for Lifetime, Single Black Female, and about shedding her Glee character in the process.
"I've always loved that character, and I love what it means to people. That's never been the issue," Riley explains to ET. "I'm just a human. Like, I'm just a human being, and I just want to be addressed as a person and not a character."
Of meeting fans in public, Riley has one simple request -- "Just use my name! That's it. That's all I was asking! That's it."
Despite being ready to move on from Mercedes, Riley remains close with many of her Glee co-stars. She revealed that several members of the Glee cast are on a group text together and recently received the happy news that co-star Jenna Ushkowitz is expecting her first child.
"I am so excited. She actually sent us the sonogram before she announced it, and we were all just like freaking out," Riley shares. "Her and her husband are just a match made in heaven. Her wedding was so much fun, and Jenna’s gonna be an awesome mom. She’s gonna be a soccer mom. I’ve always told her that."
Riley had her own exciting news to add to the chat -- she got engaged to her boyfriend, Desean Black, in November 2020. The performer tells ET that Black popped the question and then a week later took her to get her nails done and pick out the ring together.
"I love him and he’s my best friend, and I can be around him with no wig on and no makeup and he still loves me," she says, laughing.
As for wedding plans, don't expect her big day to take place anytime soon.
"I've just enjoyed being engaged," she admits. "I'm gonna drag my feet."
Career-wise, Riley is open to doing a project with her Glee co-stars again.
"I would like to do something with some of the Glee cast again, just something funny like a Funny or Die moment or something," she says. "We talk about it a lot, but you know, like, Kevin [McHale] and Chris [Colfer] and Jenna [Ushkowitz], I miss being on set with them because that was my family and Harry [Shum Jr.]! Maybe something with them. Maybe they'll get back on set with the ol' girl and do something fun."
Right now, Riley is focused on promoting her new project, Single Black Female, and her co-star and friend, Raven Goodwin, also has some interesting ties to Glee.
"She actually auditioned for Glee. We met at the Glee audition, a lot of people don't know that, but we did, we met at the Glee audition," Riley shares of Goodwin, noting they were both auditioning to play Mercedes. "I didn't think that we looked alike then until, you know, I started seeing her on red carpets and her red carpet pictures started ending up [mislabeled] in my Getty Images."
Riley is excited to finally get to play alongside her longtime friend.
"We've always wanted to work together so to be able to do something new," Riley says. "She's a leading lady in the film, and I get to play a crazy leading lady in the film. And do something new and exciting for my career and people get to see me in a different light, so yeah."
As for what's next for Riley career-wise, she still has lot of big dreams to fulfill.
"I really want to finally put out a full project like a full album, so hopefully that won’t be too far off. But just like every other actor, I’m on the grind so I hope to eventually produce and star in my own television show, that is a really huge dream of mine, so hopefully that comes to pass," she says.