Amber Riley's Masked Singer Victory Marks Big Moment For The Glee Star

When Amber Riley won Season 8 of "The Masked Singer" and was revealed as Harp, she made history. Not only had the "Glee" alum won the Golden Mask Trophy for the singing competition, but she had previously won the Mirrorball Trophy on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2013. Speaking about winning both reality show competitions, Riley mentioned how "drive" and "focus" had helped propel her. "I hope that I can be a representation that if you just have all of those things and you really go after your dreams that you can actually achieve them," she told Fox 5 after winning "The Masked Singer."

The singer had come a long way in her career. Riley's big break came when she landed the role of Mercedes on "Glee." Previous to that, she felt her body type had led to her being typecast. "I never wanted to play a character that hated herself. I wanted people to know that those aren't the only roles for people like me, normal girls," Riley said on MTV's "This Is How I Made It" which aired in 2012 (via Marie Claire).

Working on the hit Fox series led to more opportunities for Riley, but also resulted in online body-shaming. Fortunately, appearing on "DWTS" helped Riley ignore the trolls. "'Dancing With the Stars,' honestly, doing that show, really helped me with my confidence," she told Page Six on December 2. Being on "The Masked Singer" also helped Riley in unexpected ways.

How Amber Riley grew as an artist

Appearing on "The Masked Singer" as the Harp character gave Amber Riley anonymity which allowed her to shine artistically. "Kind of without anybody knowing who I was and not having any preconceived notions about who I am as an artist and getting people to listen to me with new ears and see me through a different lens towards the end," she said on the "And That's What You Really Missed" podcast on December 8 while discussing the singing competition. Riley discussed her time on "Glee," and while she looked back positively on the experience, it still stifled her creatively as many fans still saw the actor as Mercedes. "Finding yourself as an actor, and finding your voice as an artist can be really difficult and it's very easy to feel really jaded and over it," Riley added. It was liberating for the "The Wiz Live!" star to distance herself from her best-known character and allow her voice to shine through.

After nabbing the Golden Mask trophy, Riley spoke about how important song selection was for her character, and how liberating it was to showcase her singing range. "They let me be myself and put my own little vocal flare on things," Riley told People on December 1. Even after her "Masked Singer" victory, Riley believed she would be inextricably linked to Mercedes. "Obviously, my 'Glee' character is how people know me and it'll always be something that's very close to me," she added.