If Chantel Riley’s ultimate dream had come true, she’d be happily teaching dance classes to starry-eyed tykes in Toronto. But God had other plans. Her story is nothing if not proof of what happens when you let go of fear and take a leap of faith.
This Canadian-born actress of Jamaican heritage never saw herself performing on stage or screen. Performances in her home church were the length and breadth of her experience. But when a friend suggested that she attend an open casting call for Disney’s The Lion King, Chantel took her limited experience and stepped out on faith, knowing that her current job as an auto insurance adjuster was definitely not the path she wanted to continue on.
After auditioning and being called back several times, she flew to a final callback in Hamburg, Germany and booked the role of Nala in the German production. After a year with that company, she stepped into the role on Broadway and spent four more years playing Simba’s childhood friend and adult love interest. Chantel ended her time with the show in 2016, but that was merely the closing of one chapter and the opening of another. Chantel has recently moved back to Toronto to begin filming a new show, Frankie Drake Mysteries, which she could not yet reveal at the time of our recording.
While living in New York, Chantel created a clothing line with friend Crystal Rose called Riley & Rose, the goal of which is to encourage others to be liberated and not live or walk in fear. When talking about the apparel line, she quotes John 8:36 “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Listen in as we chat about showbiz, travel, faith, dreams coming true, and the power of vision boards! And check out her professional reel below. Yes, that’s her playing Quincella Nickerson in ‘Race’.
TODAY’S FEATURED ARTIST:
Artist: Nicholas Ryan Gant
w/thoughts from Carmen Rodgers