Amber Riley is living out her ‘Big Girl Energy’ anthem

Exclusive: The multitalented actress and singer is busier than ever and has teamed up with Straight Talk Wireless with a remixed version of a holiday classic

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Amber Riley’s “Big Girl Energy,” which prioritizes taking care of business, is contagious with a voice that keeps on giving. The multitalented actress and singer is utilizing both to connect with her #RILEYgang and help get them into the holiday season.

Riley has partnered with Straight Talk Wireless with the remixed Oh Shopping Spree holiday carol to entice customers into how they can save on phones during this festive time.

Amber Riley
(Credit: Getty Images)

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In an exclusive interview with theGrio, the Grammy-nominated star shares that the collaboration is a way to offer cheer and a much-needed break during the pandemic.

“People aren’t really looking forward to the holidays as much. But it was just a fun way to get everyone in the holiday spirit and also for them to kind of save money. They have this awesome deal with Samsung Galaxy A 21 for $99 and that’s like a gift that you can get for yourself or others. I personally am getting it for myself,” she explains.

Her debut, self-titled EP “RILEY,” is another chance for admirers to keep her voice on loop on their playlists. The project dropped in October and she recently performed the track “BGE” on Good Morning America.

Riley, 34, known for her powerhouse vocals that were featured in Glee and West End’s Dreamgirls, takes pride in this six-track collection of songs and the positive reception.

“I’m really grateful because I put everything that I had into that EP and I’m an independent artist and my followers, my fans, they showed up for me and show that they appreciated the work that I put into it and as an artist. That’s like all that you can ask for.”

She’s not too concerned with how her project is labeled, noting that such characterizations are a “whole other conversation,” about how the music industry segregates artists.

Amber Riley
(Courtesy of Amber Riley)

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“My music that I wrote was therapeutic and I didn’t write it for me. I did write it for others to enjoy but I honestly feel like when it comes to art, music or any music that you write, if you are super authentic, the people will find you and they will appreciate that. I kind of opened up my diary when I did all of this music and, you know, call it, put it and categorize it however you want to,” she says.

“You want to call it soul. You want to call it pop. I don’t know. All that I know is that I was just being authentic in what I felt like people wanted to hear and what I wrote. I feel like the music is really dope.”

Being a chanteuse isn’t the only way that Riley is in her bag. She will be the headliner and executive producer of the NBC comedy Dream, which is in development.

“Oh man, that’s a dream come true, no pun intended but it’s really a dream come true. I am a huge advocate for having autonomy over my own art. I fought very hard over the last couple of years to be a leading lady.”

 She admits to saying “no” more than once to other roles.

“Although I have gratitude for the opportunities that come my way, they’re coming my way because I presented and put myself in a position for them to come my way and the things that I say no to, I have a peace about saying no.”

Riley did say yes when her fiancé, Desean Black, proposed to her, joyous news she happily shared last month.

If you’re looking for the “Amber Prayer,” all you’ve got to do is shoot your shot like she did after sliding into his DMs.

“If you see something that you want, to me, that’s a part of big girl energy, that’s the best. That’s RILEY. Like, ‘Oh, you’re cute and I’m interested in you. Are you interested in me?’” she muses.

“It was literally me saying, ‘Hey Desean, how are you?’ and if he responded, he responded. If he didn’t, he didn’t. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve shot my shot with other people and I’ve been rejected. It’s not the end of the world. That just means that they weren’t for you.”

It certainly seems that Riley’s life is in overflow. She’s a boss, her man put a ring on it and Dionne Warwick –who has become Twitter’s new reigning social media queen—included her in a list of singers she enjoys following.

The New Year will likely build on all that momentum, but Riley will remain patient with herself as the harshness of life will inevitably rear its head. 

“I give myself a break and we can’t see ourselves as superwoman and we can’t make other people make us feel like we’re not human and be disappointed in ourselves because we had a bad day,” she says.

“And that was a hard thing for me to get used to. I had to start reaching out to friends and saying, ‘Hey, I’m struggling, and can you come over and watch a movie with me? Because I can’t be by myself and I need to talk to somebody.’ You know, I think that is how you maintain your peace.”

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