Lifetime is putting out more original content starring some of our faves and this time, real-life friends and two actresses that many call “lookalikes,” Amber Riley and Raven Goodwin take center stage in the psychological thriller Single Black Female.
The film stars Goodwin as Monica, a TV journalist on the rise who accepts a new career path as the host on a daytime show. Her station hires a new assistant Simone (Riley), who quickly takes a liking to Monica. At first, Simone seems sweet and eager to learn the ropes under Monica’s guidance. But as her behavior appears more erratic and obsessive, dark secrets are uncovered and Monica and company fear for their lives.
Shadow and Act spoke with Riley about the film, working with Goodwin after all these years, her music and more.
It was good to see you and Raven Goodwin on screen together because many people have said you both lookalike! How was it to finally merge your two worlds in this way?
Amber Riley: It was actually really cool. Me and Raven are friends, so we always wanted to work with one another and the opportunity presented itself, and we were just excited, just excited to be able to see each other every day.
This is a pretty gritty role. Your fans are used to seeing you in lighter roles. Obviously, we've seen you in dramatic roles but not necessarily psychological thrillers. How did you prepare for this?
For me, it’s no different than any other role. Just kind of get to know the character. We had an amazing director, Shari [Carpenter], that we put kind of ideas in our minds by kind of giving you an idea or feeling behind what’s happening in that scene. So having an awesome director really helped. But preparation was just knowing the lines and figuring out the motivation for the character and what she wanted in each scene and who she was as a person, as opposed to just plain crazy really playing, making the character very human.
This whole concept has been explored time and time again in so many different ways. We've seen it in like films like 'Obsessed,' and of course, 'Single White Female.' But what do you feel makes this specific project or lens different?
I think it’s dope that it’s two plus-sized Black women and people get to see that perspective, see us just living life and being normal, and it’s not playing up our size. So I think that’d be encouraging for people to see. I also think that what’s different is seeing how Black people deal with threats and stress. It’s a little bit different than Single White Female. I think it’s a little bit more entertaining because we’re animated and dramatic and it’s a lot of fun. It’s dramatic, but it’s also a lot of fun.
We know you from your big breakout role in 'Glee' where you played a singer. You’ve appeared on ’The Terrell Show’ and it went viral, you’ve been doing a lot of music showcases, and obviously, you released the EP, ‘RILEY.’ Do you feel now that you're starting to get the recognition and respect for the vocal artist that you are?
I just think like every other artist, you just keep going and going and going as long as your passion pushes you and you get in front of more and more people. And so, I think maybe I’m just getting in front of more and more people. For most people that come from television, it’s really hard to break into the music industry because people only see you one way. So I think people are recognizing the hard work and recognizing my talent. And I’m just really extremely grateful for that and we’ll just see what’s going to come in the coming years.
What other projects are you working on in music or acting? We also see that you're really into wellness and fitness now from your social media activity. What else can we expect from the Amber Riley brand moving forward?
Mental health is so important to me and wellness is so important to me. I’ve always wanted to get my degree in psychology. So, I started that journey last year. Obviously, it’s probably going to take me much longer than the average person because work takes me away for months at a time. But, that’s something that’s really, really important to me.
I always thought about becoming a licensed therapist and just helping as many people as possible and figuring out how to incorporate that in my worksphere, just as an actor and a singer incorporating wellness and mental health.
As far as music, I’m working on my second EP. I’m an independent artist, so it’s going to be a couple of EPs before we can start. So without an album at the end. Pilot season is coming up and I’m just on the ground working on it and auditioning.
Single Black Female will premiere on Lifetime on Feb. 5, 2022.