Decked out in sparkles, actress Amber Riley lit up the dance floor with a fierce Cha-Cha on the season premiere of "Dancing With The Stars". The dance earned her and her partner, Derek Hough, a standing ovation and a whopping score of 27 out of 30 from the judges.
"You are the tigress of Season 17," Bruno Tonioli told her.
Bowing Carrie Ann Inaba proclaimed, "I bow to you. I bow to you."
Even head judge, Len Goodman, had praises, "I'm palpitating, perspirating, and flatulating… Full on, flat out, fabulous!"
The day after Riley's show-stopping debut, the small screen was on fire.
"The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd told viewers, "She was reppin' for the big girls. This mama came out and did a Cha-Cha and was quick on her feet."
"Amber, by the way, you look really sexy," Wendy Williams told Riley on her show.
And Twitter was abuzz with praise for the 27-year-old being an inspiration to "real" women everywhere. One person tweeting, "You are amazing! Could not stop smiling watching you dance. You're an inspiration to so many women."
Another wrote, "Love her attitude about image. No matter how you look you can do whatever you dreamt of."
And for Riley there is no higher compliment.
"I really want young girls that look just like me to feel, just get out there and move and dance," Riley said in an interview prior to the show's premiere. "I think they're going to see me on the dance floor and see like I may be huffing and puffing afterward, but during these rehearsals, I'm pushing past that cardio, and I'm really enjoying it and having fun."
Known for her role as Mercedes Jones on the hit show "Glee", the California native always dreamed of being a dancer.
"Dancing for me is like a dream deferred," she told Hough. "It was either singing or dancing. We couldn't afford both."
But her road to stardom wasn't an easy one. In November Riley talked about her struggles with body image on MTV's "This Is How I Made It".
"Being the person I am, being the size I am, being a woman, being a black woman… There's not a lot of roles for us," she explained, wiping away tears.
But now she's landed a dream role and in the process hasn't lost her sense of humor.
"We can't be back to back because of my booty," she informed Hough during a rehearsal.
"No, we will. I mean, not back to back," Hough smiles.
Riley laughed, "We'll be butt to butt."
You can watch Amber Riley continue her journey on "Dancing With The Stars" every Monday night at 8pm on WJBF News Channel 6. You can also find the latest "Dancing With The Stars" news right here on WJBF.com and commentary from the show on Laney's Look.
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