“This came about in the most random way,” recalled Riley about her audition for the Fox show. “A friend of my friend was friends with a casting director and looking for a girl who could sing. I still don’t know who that friend was. She said they need a really great singer. They want a black girl. She has to really sing, really belt it out. I told her, ‘I’m not a belter. I know I have a strong voice, but I’m not a belter by nature.’ I just thought to myself, ‘Forget it. I’ll just go on the audition.’”
What she didn’t realize was that it was an acting audition mostly…
“Auditions used to freak me out. I don’t know why. I was so nervous,” she said. “During that audition, it was one of those things where I thought, ‘If I get it, that’s great. But I’m going to pursue it and won’t quit.’ The attitude showed and I was very, very comfortable this time around.”
Riley thought her big moment was going to come at 18 when she went to San Francisco to audition for American Idol.
“When I did that and they told me no, my world crumbled. I was thinking these people are in the industry and they are telling me no. I’m not good enough to do this. I definitely thought that for a minute,” she said.
“It was a very humbling experience after being told how good I was the whole time. My mom said, ‘You know what you have and you know who you are and you know the gift you have. You just have to work harder.’ Both my mom and dad were very, very supportive.”
Returning to the Los Angeles area, Riley threw herself into school and got a job at Ikea where she thrived and ultimately decided that she wanted to pursue music full time and then shortly after got the audition for Glee.
Can you imagine her selling you Ikea furniture or cinnamon rolls? Ridiculous. I love her character on Glee and every time I’ve ever seen an interview with her, I just adore her.