When Amber Riley’s Mercedes Jones took center stage for a performance in Glee, there was no doubt tears were going to be brought to your eyes and chills were going to go up your spine as her beyond her years belt reverberated through the speakers. “That character taught me I could sing,” the actress admitted in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife, six years after the show’s final episode. “I know that is surprising to hear but Mercedes… I never would have attempted some of the songs that I sang on the show because I never considered myself to be a belter. And that surprised a lot of people, but I always had this soft soprano voice my whole entire life. I really, really actually found my voice on that show. I really did.”
Amber also revealed that playing Mercedes for six seasons taught her “confidence and vulnerability.” “I loved how quirky and different she was. The way that she dressed was so funky and I feel like the character really stood out of the crowd,” she said and laughed, “Mercedes is definitely a Grammy winner today. She’s probably married to a pastor or something like that with a slew of children and is covered in diamonds and pearls!”
Now, the actress is preparing to step into a leading lady role in the upcoming NBC musical comedy Dream, in which she will serve as a co-executive producer and star. “As a person that’s been in this industry a really long time you start to you learn a lot from your directors, you learn from your fellow actors, you learn a lot on set and I’ve learned so many different legs of this industry… And for me, being a plus size Black woman, there aren’t a lot of roles for us, so being able to create my own lane was very, very important to me,” Amber explained. “I know what I’m capable of, and I would never let this industry stop me from showing what I’m capable of.”
The show will follow Amber as Dream Morgan, a former teen mom who becomes an empty nester when her son graduates and she decides to finally pursue her dream of becoming a singer. “I am a leading lady. I’ve always said that about myself. So, getting the opportunity to help write, create a character, create a story and hire people that I think are just talented and not put anyone in a box, and represent all shapes and sizes and races — it is super exciting,” she gushed.
Amber spoke to HollywoodLife in partnership with KeVita and their new line of Prebiotic Shots. “The new KeVita campaign is all about celebrating self love and overall wellness from the inside out. And it’s always exciting when I get to talk about something that I actually really love and I actually really use on a daily basis,” she said. “These Prebiotic Shots are so easy and convenient. They’re literally a part of my morning routine now!” The first-ever prebiotic beverage is offered in a convenient two-ounce “shot” to help support people’s digestive health. Shots feature three grams of prebiotic fiber and are available in three flavors: Beet Lemon, Blueberry Mint and Turmeric Ginger.