Amber Riley told Shadow And Act’s Trey Mangum about her feelings about her character from Glee, Mercedes, and her upcoming role as the lead of her own show, Dream.
The interview, which can be heard in full on Shadow And Act’s Opening Act podcast, gives new insight into Riley’s thoughts on her iconic character.
“I feel like on that show, Mercedes played a heightened version of a stereotype and we know what that trope was,” she said. “But I feel like one thing that the show often did was that ‘Yes, we’re going to show that, but we’re also going to show what’s behind it.'”
“For me, I never felt like Mercedes got her full circle moment on that show where I could have dug deeper and showed who she was,” she continued. “But I do think she got to show her emotion and what she got to do through the music…I was always grateful [that] I was able to show that side of myself in my music. I definitely put my heart into it.”
While Riley might have some issues with Mercedes’ characterization, her role as Dream in the eponymous series is, indeed, a dream. In fact, Riley said, “It’s everything I’ve wanted.”
The series was executive produced by Neil Meron, whom Riley met while working on The Wiz! Live. She said Meron and the late Craig Zadan “clicked” with her and wanted to work with her on a project. A few years later, Meron and black-ish writer Lisa Muse-Bryant created and sold Dream, which is now in development with NBC.
The series is based on the story of Muse-Bryant’s cousin, who had a baby at 13 years old. Riley’s role is of a character who also had a baby young and “has had to figure out her life.”
“It’s a coming of age story, but it is a coming of age story of a 35-year-old woman who grew up with her mom, being under her mother’s thumb because of one mistake she made,” she said, adding that her character will be going through what most people deal with in their teens, such as going on dates, figuring out what she wants to do in life, and finding herself.
“All of those things you normally see with a 15 [or] 16-year old you’ll be seeing with Dream at 35 years old, figuring it out,” she said. “It’s been an amazing journey…I know that the world will love it, and I’m singing on it too…It’s everything that I’ve wanted. I’ve wanted to be a leading lady and just knowing that it’s possible, it’s hard for me to go back to anything else.”
Listen to the episode below: