Mercedes and Sam made a connection and secretly started dating before senior year began, but when Sam and his family moved to another state, Mercedes took up with football player Shane Tinsley.
Meanwhile, Mercedes' rivalry with Rachel continued. When both girls were asked to share the part of Maria in "West Side Story," Mercedes quit, saying she was tired of playing second fiddle to Rachel. She then joined the rival McKinley glee club, the Troubletones.
Sam returned to McKinley High and vowed to win Mercedes back from Shane. He persuaded her to sing a duet with him, and they kissed when it was over. Although she confessed the kiss to Shane and broke up with him, she told Sam that she couldn't date him either. She explained that she needed some time to be on her own.
Later in the year, Will grew concerned about Mercedes' lack of ambition; she replied that she hoped to some day record a hit song. Sam posted a video of her singing on YouTube, telling her that he was sure she was going to be a star. The two finally got back together and attended prom as a couple. The video Sam had posted caught the attention of some music industry power players, and just in time for graduation, the couple celebrated her signing a recording contract and the start of her career as a professional singer.
Amber Riley got her first break when Ryan Murphy cast her in the pilot "St. Sass." Although the pilot was not picked up, Riley was able to use that experience to land a role on the television series "Cedric the Entertainer Presents."
Riley has performed in numerous theater productions, including "Alice in Wonderland," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Into the Woods" and "Mystery on the Docks," with the Los Angeles Opera.
She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy series. In 2010, she received the Most Popular Geek Award at AOL's 1st Annual Geek Awards and was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Female Scene Stealer.
Riley currently serves as an Ambassador for the Save the Music Foundation and is a member of Seventeen magazine's Body Peace Council.
She currently lives in Los Angeles.