Rehearsals are in full swing as the new slate of celebrities prepare for the first night of competition on “Dancing with the Stars.” Because the premiere is rapidly approaching, it’s a great time to look at each of the couples on season 17. This article spotlights Amber Riley from “Glee” and her professional dance partner, 4-time champ Derek Hough.
Amber Riley is a 27-year-old actress, dancer and singer from L.A. In 2003, she auditioned for “American Idol,” but was turned down. Ruben Studdard defeated Clay Aiken that season, but Amber wasn’t a part of it. Instead, she landed the dream role of Mercedes Jones on FOX’s “Glee” in 2009.
Since then, she has performed numerous powerful solos on the show, including “Respect,” “Beautiful,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water" and many others. For her work on “Glee,” Riley was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2009-2012 as Outstanding Ensemble Cast. In addition to “Glee,” her other TV work includes credits on “St. Sass,” “The Simpsons,” “Struck By Lightning,” and “VH1 Divas.” Riley played her “Glee” character in the 2011 feature film “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.” She has also performed with the Los Angeles Opera and sang the national anthem on opening day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Over the summer, FOX announced that Riley would not be returning as a series regular on “Glee.” Instead, her role as Mercedes would be a recurring guest character throughout the new fall season.
Co-star Cory Monteith passed away on July 13 and like the rest of the “Glee” family, Amber was devastated over his death. She tweeted, “Yesterday I got to sit with my Glee family and remember a man I considered a brother and a friend. With a very heavy heart, RIP Cory Monteith. Continued prayer for his family and Lea. Sending hugs to all you Gleeks.” Riley stood beside Lea Michelle when she made her first public appearance at the Teen Choice Awards. “Cory was like a brother to us,” she stated during the awards show.
So, how will Amber Riley fare on “Dancing with the Stars?” Her secret weapon is partner Derek Hough, the only four-time champion. He took home the coveted mirror ball trophy with partners Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey and Kellie Pickler. Derek started dancing in his hometown of Salt Lake City at the age of 11, and just one year later, he moved to London to train with the top coaches in the world and attend a performing arts school.
Hough’s professional ballroom accolades include World Under 21 Latin American Champion, two-time Open British Champion (Blackpool), two-time International Open to the World Champion, and two-time US Open Champion.
Derek Hough first appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2007 and has competed on 11 seasons with the following celebrity partners.
- Season 5: Jennie Garth (4th place)
- Season 6: Shannon Elizabeth (6th place)
- Season 7: Brooke Burke (1st place)
- Season 8: Lil’ Kim (5th place)
- Season 9: Joanna Krupa (4th place)
- Season 10: Nicole Scherzinger (1st place)
- Season 11: Jennifer Grey (1st place)
- Season 13: Ricki Lake (3rd place)
- Season 14: Maria Menounos (4th place)
- Season 15: Shawn Johnson (2nd place)
- Season 16: Kellie Pickler (1st place)
A multi-talented entertainer and Emmy nominee, Derek Hough took a season off from “Dancing with the Stars” to film his first movie, “Cort in Cobu 3D: New York Nights.” In addition, Derek performed in London's West End, where he starred as the male lead in the critically acclaimed stage version of “Footloose.” He was one of the featured dancers on the "Dancing with the Stars Tour" and served as a choreographer on the BBC hit show, “Dance X.” Derek is nominated for two Outstanding Choreography Emmy Awards in 2013, which will be presented on Sunday, Sept. 22. He has been nominated three additional times in the past.
Derek’s equally talented sister, Julianne Hough, also competed as a dance pro on “Dancing with the Stars.” She left to star in movies and her next project is a new Diablo Cody film with Russell Brand.
“Dancing with the Stars” premieres at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 16 on ABC. During last season's finale, Kellie Pickler defeated Ally Raisman, Jacoby Jones and Zendaya to win the mirror ball trophy. To see Amber and Derek talk about the new season of “DWTS,” be sure to check out the above video.
So, who will rise to the top this season and take home the coveted mirror ball trophy? Below is the new cast and pro pairings for brand new season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
- Elizabeth Berkley from "Saved By the Bell" and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
- Corbin Bleu from "High School Musical" and pro Karina Smirnoff
- Brant Daugherty from "Pretty Little Liars" and pro Peta Murgatroyd
- Bill Engvall, country comedian, and new pro Emma Slater
- Valerie Harper, who was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year, and pro Tristan MacManus
- Keyshawn Johnson, NFL wide receiver for 11 years, and pro Sharna Burgess
- Christina Milian, actress/singer/entrepreneur, and pro Mark Ballas
- Bill Nye "The Science Guy"and new pro Tyne Stecklein
- Jack Osbourne from "The Osbournes" and pro Cheryl Burke
- Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi from "Jersey Shore" and new pro Sasha Farber
- Leah Remini from "The King of Queens" and pro Tony Dovolani
- Amber Riley from "Glee" and pro Derek Hough
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