Amber Riley Brings the Crazy Opposite Raven Goodwin in Lifetime's "Single Black Female"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Amber Riley Brings the Crazy Opposite Raven Goodwin in Lifetime's "Single Black Female"

It's been 30 years since Single White Female premiered in theaters. The original film starred Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh and told the story of Allison (Fonda), a trusting woman who opens her home to a roommate (Leigh), only to have her life upended when the tenant turns out to be a psycho. The film went on to become a cult classic and introduced the title as a popular catchphrase in the vernacular. This weekend Lifetime gives the premise a make-over with the premiere of Single Black Female, pairing Amber Riley (top left) and Raven Goodwin (right). This time it's Riley bringing the crazy, and according to the stars, the timing of this project couldn't be better. "I feel like timing is everything," Goodwin recently exclaimed while promoting the film. "I feel it's a good time for it, and Single White Female is a classic and such a fun film. [But] I was kind of surprised because it is such a cult classic."

"When I got the e-mail and I read they were doing it I was like, 'Has there ever been a remake of this, or is this the very first one?'" Riley added. "But like Raven said, timing is everything, and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, as it's worth the wait."

"The first Single White Female was pretty wild," added Goodwin with a laugh. "It was really out of control. I feel [this one] has just about the same shock value, but it's [set] during this time and, you know, with Black girls."

The pairing of Riley and Goodwin couldn't be better. The two are old friends and according to Riley share a special connection. "Honestly, it was amazing," Riley beamed of the film's casting. "[She's] my industry twin, and I would see her pop up on my IMDB page. People would often mix us up when we'd do red carpets. I was already a fan. We took a picture years ago at the Essence Festival and literally manifested doing this movie together. Thousands of comments and likes are under that picture saying things like, 'Come on, Hollywood, put us in a movie together already.' So, this was a dream come true and the manifestation of something that we wanted."

"For me, having two voluptuous, dope Black women star in a thriller is kind of unheard of," offered Goodwin. "I want [audiences] to have fun watching the film. The thing about thrillers is we want to be spooked. We want to scream. I want them to really be weirded out and talk to the screen. I want them to have the experience of watching that cult classic thriller that you just can't take your eyes off."

For Riley, getting to explore her unhinged side as the film's protagonist, while fun, shocked even her. "It was a lot of fun," she recalled. "But there were some moments where I disturbed myself because I had to tap into uncomfortable moments I would never do and get outside of myself. When you can get outside of yourself, you feel like an actor, so [that] was fun. We all have those sides, and those thoughts, but common sense and morals kick in. I had to put all of that aside, and even though it was uncomfortable, it was also a great feeling to take years of aggression and feelings you have and put it into a moment.

"Also, I had to tap into insecurities that I had about myself," she added. "Growing up there weren't many people that looked like me so, when I found a singer or an actor, which most of them were in the theater, I wanted to model [myself] after that person. That's the insecurity that my character Simone has, not feeling good enough and wanting to be Monica (Goodwin). So, I did tap into that, and back into that little girl that was aspiring to be someone else. I think that not knowing where you are and going back into that insecure, unmolded person, helped. I don't even know if unmolded is a word [but] it is now if it isn't."

"What made it memorable for me was the fact that we got to do most of our own stunts," Riley said of the physical requirements of the roles. "Raven is really strong. I need y'all to understand that if I ever go anywhere with Raven, she's handling the heavyweight.

"But, honestly, us being plus-size Black women in a thriller, and we got to get physical!" she added in closing. "Our stunt coordinator and the stuntwomen teaching us were so hands-on, so amazing, and professional. They taught us how to be safe, but also make everything look so real."

Single Black Female will be telecast Saturday, February 5 at 8p.m. on Lifetime.

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