Robert Christopher Riley hails from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn (NY), but has deep Caribbean roots, as he was raised by his Trinidadian mother and grandmother while having a father from Barbados.
Riley is a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School (‘98) where he earned a Regents diploma before attending Lehigh University (’03) in Bethlehem, PA., for his B.A. in Theatre. While attending Lehigh, Riley was cast in the role of ‘Walter Lee’ in the play, “A Raisin in the Sun” and later went on to co-write along with Kashi Johnson (his professor and mentor), “Untold Truths: Why We Always Sit Together”. The play, which was about the minority experience at predominately white institutions of education, received rave reviews and was performed nightly before sold-out audiences at the Touchstone Theatre. After graduation, in the fall of 2003, Riley accepted a full-scholarship to Ohio University’s MFA-Acting Program. While completing his degree (’06), he was cast in several independent films as well as numerous commercials and print ads.
In winter 2006, all of Riley’s hard work began to pay off. He landed a role in August Wilson’s “Fences,” which was a 6-month, 3-city tour (Hartford/Dallas/Portland). After appearing in this production, in 2007, he was later cast as ‘Jeremy’ in a second August Wilson production, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at Baltimore Center Stage. As luck would have it, Riley was returning from a modeling job, on an off day from “Joe Turner,” and received a call to audition for the 2008 Broadway production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. He was cast to play the role of “Brick” as an understudy for Terrance Howard, which he performed for three weeks in addition to his nightly role as “Brightie”. He starred opposite, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Giancarlo Esposito and Anika Noni Rose. Although Riley seemed to be enjoying life to the fullest, it was his role as Hall of Fame linebacker ‘Dave Robinson’ in the 2011 Broadway production of “Lombardi” that he is proudest of. “Lombardi was an experience of a lifetime,” explains Riley. “The night in which Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson came together was ‘’priceless’; and the night Magic Johnson attended, let’s just say, magical”. The play which earned Judith Light a Tony nomination, received nightly standing ovations, as it ran from September ’10 through May ’11.
After Lombardi, Riley relocated to Los Angeles, where he made an easy transition from stage to television and film. He landed roles on VH1’s, “Single Ladies” and Tyler Perry’s “For Better or Worse”. Other shows he has appeared on include, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Royal Pains”, “Damages” and “White Collar”. His film credits include, “The Bourne Legacy”, “Sinister” and the upcoming independent films (2016), “The Adventures of Sweet Yellow,” “Destined,” and “The Perfect Match” with Terrence J, Paula Patton, Dasha Polanco, Donald Faison and others coming out March 2016.
Riley continued his career by doing voiceover work for Verizon, the NFL and Rockstar Games, to name a few. In April 2012, he was casted as ‘Terrence Wall’ (a series regular) in VH1’s “Hit the Floor”. The show premiered Memorial Day 2013 to phenomenal reviews and gained 4 million viewers every Monday in its first two seasons, making it the #1 new scripted series on VH1. Season 3 started January 18, 2016.
Riley can currently be seen in the spring hit movie The Perfect Match where he co-starred along with Actor Terrence J. and actress Cassie.
Robert has three movies coming out this year. He will be co- starring in a TV One Movie” Deadbeat Dad Rehab” starring Malik Yoba, Robert Richard, Wesley Jonathan and Rick Gonzalez. This movie is slated for a late summer release. You can also find Robert in a gritty underground movie “Destined” co-starring Cory Hardict. Robert also selected to do an independent movie “Walk Away From Love”.
When not acting, Riley continues to pursue some of his other loves; music, poetry, photography and teaching/mentoring. A novice guitarist and hand percussionist, he has composed and arranged several songs and has also co-hosted/co-produced the band-competition series Break’N’ Through (2009).
As a teacher and mentor Riley began with the “Building Bridges” program (Touchstone Theatre. Lehigh Valley, PA 2001-2002) and has worked with and spoken to, students from Kindergarten to College. He has most recently worked the “M.O.C.I.T.I. mentoring group” at Martin Luther King Jr Elementary and Barack Obama Prep in Los Angeles and is currently a member of the SAG BookPals, a collective that reads books to children in public schools in NY and LA. Riley is in post-production for his directorial and screenwriting debut, a short film starring himself and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs tentatively titled “Finally.” He also recently launched a photography business titled “The Fresh Perspectiv.”
Currently Riley has produced a docu-series with his own production company Hollywood Massive, showing his travels to different islands and cities covering culture, carnivals, and major festivals, with the aim of raising cultural awareness throughout the globe. He is also producing and participating in the annual Los Angeles Culture Festival as the “Hollywood Massive” Band, coming June 25th, 2016.