AMBER RILEY: BIG GIRLS DONT CRY—THEY GET EVEN!

Published on: December 9, 2013
Photography by: Disney ABC via Getty
AMBER RILEY: BIG GIRLS DONT CRY—THEY GET EVEN!

BIG girls rule – and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Amber Riley is living proof!

But it hasn’t always been easy. The feisty “Glee” star almost didn’t make it in Hollywood because of her weight.

A decade ago, when she was a 17-year-old student at California’s La Mirada High School, she was turned down for a shot on “American Idol” because she was too big.

“I was crushed,” she said. “Rejection at a young age is hard.”

At one point, 5-foot-2 Amber tipped the scales at a staggering 190 pounds, which limited her choice in roles.

“I was being offered the girl who sits in the corner and eats all day or the girl who committed suicide because she was fat,” she recalled. “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.”

In 2008, Amber landed the part of Mercedes Jones on “Glee” and quickly became a fan favorite. And America fell in love with her all over again as she and pro partner Derek Hough cha-cha’d and samba’d their way to a Season 17 win, despite Amber’s painful knee problems throughout the show.

Now that she’s won the coveted mirror ball trophy, Amber has a message for other women: “You’re not your dress size. You’re not your shoe size. You’re not your pants size. If I’m going to wear a name tag, it’s going to say, ‘Amber Riley,’ not ‘Fat Girl!’ ”