Amber Riley Talks About 'Glee' and How 'Mean Stinks' (Exclusive)

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Amber Riley has teamed up with Secret's Mean Stinks program, and while everyone is buzzing about what's going to happen next season on 'Glee,' we got to talk to the singer/actress about everything from her anti-bullying campaign to what's in store for Mercedes this fall.

The 25-year-old has partnered with Secret to help launch its supportive Facebook community, which empowers girls to "stand against what stinks and start a movement of 'nice.'" The best part of the program is that the deodorant maker will donate a portion of proceeds from Secret Clinical Strength purchases to PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center.

Amber had several reasons for wanting to be a part of the do-good campaign. Find out what they were, as well as what she had to say about bullying, 'Glee' and more in our exclusive interview below.
JSYK: Hi, Amber! So, can you tell us why you wanted to get involved in the Mean Stinks Program?

Amber Riley: I wanted to get involved because my character on 'Glee' always gets so many letters from young girls, and I'm always asked for advice on tough issues, so I'm so glad Secret has this Mean Stinks Program because it gives me a resource to recommend. I can now give more information on how to help so it was really exciting for me. You know, I am just trying to do my part, and do my duty and help young women.

JSYK: Have you ever actually been bullied?

AR: I never have actually been bullied. I have been made fun of and teased, you know, like every other person, like in 5th grade when you go through that awkward stage. But I've never really had to deal with being bullied like being beat-up. But I have dealt with bullying, I've been around it. I had a friend in high school who actually was a bully and I separated myself from her because I didn't want to be associated with that and I didn't want people to think that I was that way. It's not in my nature to be mean.

JSYK: Bullying was a strong theme during the second season of Glee. Do you think it will be revisited in season 3?

AR: I think so. It is still a big issue in the US and I know that was a big reason that the show wanted to tackle it, because it's something that is very prevalent in high school. There are a lot of fights in high school and everyone wants to be the "top dog" and sometimes they don't know how to be themselves. They have to belittle and put other people down. I think the Glee Club gets bullied, period! So, I think we are definitely going to be dealing with that on the show; maybe just not as heavily as before. But I'm sure people will still be getting slushied!

JSYK: Do you think Mercedes experiences on the show are representative with what happens in schools today?

AR: I don't think she has been bullied really. I think slushied is the only thing. I don't know many people getting slushied in high school, but I think it's just a representation. It's kind of like a metaphor of what happens to kids in high school but just done in an entertaining, funnier way. If you have ever really been slushied or made fun of, you know how horrible it feels -- it's like a slap in the face.

JSYK: What are you hoping to accomplish with the Mean Stinks Program?

AR: I'm hoping that girls are informed and educated, I'm hoping that it becomes a conversation in girls' circles amongst their friends, and people open their eyes that it's not cool, and mean really does stink. It's not cool to be mean. It's much easier to be nice than to rack your brain on how to make another person's life miserable. This is what Secret's Mean Stinks Facebook page is working to do -- spread nice instead of negative thoughts. Negativity is not fun, so I'm hoping people just open up their eyes and make a change.

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