Riley, our “This is Me” feature is meant to learn about you – we want to find out more about your career and about your personal life as well. You’ve been in a ton of television shows – what is it like to explore so many different sets and meet that many people?
I’ve always felt fortunate to have been apart of so many different shows and films throughout the years. In some ways, there is something nice and comforting about doing one role or job for a long period of time, but in a lot of ways, it’s exciting and fresh to have stints on so many different shows. I’m like a journey man, just traveling through a lot of peoples lives. It’s hard when you get on a really great set and have to leave, but the business is so small and I have had the pleasure to work with a lot of the same great people multiple times.
You were also in our all-time favorite, “Freaks and Geeks.” Essentially, most talents from that show is somewhere higher than they were then. What is your take on that? Are you surprised as to how loyal the fan base was even if the show only lasted a season?
I think every one that was apart of that show could feel they were apart of something special at the time, but I don’t think anyone (including me) realized how iconic it would become. Or how far so many of the people involved would go. I consider myself really lucky to have been apart “Freaks and Geeks” for the short time it was around and all the years its lived on.
You now have a recurring role on CW’s hit show “90210.” Knowing that the show has been around for a while, what were your expectations of the position? Before signing on? And what have you discovered about the people and the show that you hadn’t known before?
I knew going in that the cast and crew would be tight knit and close. My pre-conceived idea was that they may be a bit “clique-y”, which is a little intimidating, but they weren’t at all. They are a very close big family and so humble and sweet. It’s been one of the most enjoyable sets I’ve been apart of.
Talk to us about your music! Where are you hoping to take it in the next few years? Are you still recording? Anything new we can expect to hear soon?
I started a band with 3 best friends back in 06′ called THE LIFE OF RILEY. The style is singer songwriter/pop. It’s really just an outlet for me to express my feelings, thoughts and ideas. Another artistic outlet in between acting gigs. We are independent and intend to stay that way so that we can do things at our pace and vision. We have been fortunate enough to have played all over the world and even got to open for Jordan Sparks, which was a really cool experience on a bigger stage. We are about to release our third album titled “By The Way” this December. All the albums are avail on iTunes and all the multimedia outlets. In fact, I just got back from a 10-day tour across Europe supporting the record release over there. It’s always a great crowd across the pond and we love playing over there!
Among all the roles you’ve portrayed, what has been your favorite and why? Was it the cast? The job itself, etc?
I have so many favorites for so many different reasons. “24″ will always be one of those at the top. It was a highly acclaimed show that was written and done so well. My season (3) was at the height of its popularity, so there was a lot of excitement with that. And the role of Kyle Singer, was such a high intensity role every single second, which made it so fun to play. “Radio” will also hold a special place in my heart forever. To get to work with 3 Oscar nominees/winners on a daily basis was such a great learning experience and opportunity for me at that age. I grew up a lot during that film and took so many lessons from it. I also, think the movie had a great message to the audience, which makes me proud to be a part of it. And I can’t forget “Mottocrossed.” Although it was a teen Disney movie, it did so much for me on a public level. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was iconic for that generation. And not many people can say that were apart of something like that. For years I shied away from that, but now that I’m older, I sort of embrace it and feel blessed to have had that opportunity.
“Not Another Teen Movie” was another one of those films that gave so many of us our breaks and I think holds a place in a lot of peoples DVD collection. So I cannot forget that one.
A movie called “Weapons” I did will always resonate with me. It was a gritty indie film I fought for because I knew it had a great voice and would do well. I got it, shot it and it did just that at Sundance. To see that come together like it did, was a really cool thing to watch unfold.
There’s been a lot of great pilots that have not made the air that I thought were great and was proud to be a part of as well. Recently there have been so many, but when projects are so fresh, they are hard to be favorited. Sometimes you dont realize how special they are until you get time to sit back and reflect.
I do feel like “90210″ has come along at the right time in my life and playing a paraplegic character is a great opportunity that doesn’t come across your desk everyday. Being able to give that demographic a voice has been an honor. So I know that someday I’ll look back at this role and be proud of the role and work.
Now tell us, what are some of the things you are just obsessing over right now? Besides the Election a few weeks ago of course!
The Holidays. I’m a big fan of this time of year. The changing of the weather, the love that’s in the air during the holiday season. The sports on TV. You’ve got the end of Football season which is always exciting, mixed with the beginning of Basketball season. So my weekends are pretty much booked in front of the TV with Sports. Its just a great time of year!
5 things on your bucket list…?
Wow, thats a tough one. I try to live everyday to the fullest and if I want to do something “someday,” I usually just do it “now.” I’m scared of heights so jumping out of a plane is out of the question. I would like to run with the Bulls though. I tried to scuba dive in the BVI a few years back and failed. It’s a long story, but I basically got down there, got claustrophobic, forgot how to breath and had to come up. So I’d like to work on that and then go swim with Sharks. It seems so peaceful down there in the ocean, but it’s a fear that I haven’t been able to overcome as of yet.
I’d love to sit courtside for and NBA finals game, behind home plate for the World Series and front row for Super Bowl. So if there is anyone reading this that can help facilitate that, I’m all ears!
What would be a total dream job for you?
Exactly what I’m doing. I love my job. I get to be the voice of a different person with every show I take.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t let the highs get too high or the lows get too low. And when things are at their best, stay hungry. There is always someone ready to take your place.
In the next 5 years, where do you see yourself? What are some of your goals?
I want to continue to grow as a person and as an artist. The more layers I can peel off of both the more I can give to the world.
Where ever that takes me is where I’m suppose to be. It’s my job to just make the best of it and enjoy it to the fullest.
Photographer: Vince Trupsin
Grooming: Angie Miller
Stylist: Monty Jackson