Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 8 finale of The Masked Singer.
The eighth season of The Masked Singer has finally reached its end.
For the first time ever, the finale featured all women in its lineup — the Harp and the Lambs — and these ladies came to slay. Each finalist was tasked with two performances apiece. First, with an anthem that meant something personal to them, and then with a unique twist on a pop classic.
For Harp, this meant "The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga and John Mayer's "Gravity," while the Lambs sang "I'm Every Woman" by Chaka Khan and "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. The show's production for each number was really impressive, and that coupled with the finalists' vocals made for some really special performances and a memorable finale.
Unfortunately, though, they can't all be winners, so there needed to be one last vote of the season. The Lambs were ultimately named the runners-up, and Harp, who dominated the first third of the season, was crowned the new champion and winner of the Golden Mask Trophy. Before her unmasking, though, the harmony-loving trio had to be revealed. Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg kicked off the guesses by sticking to her earlier pick of the Chicks. Ken Jeong, much to the audience's chagrin, stuck with his gut choice of the Kardashian sisters. Finally, Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger agreed on their final guess — Grammy-nominated pop trio Wilson Phillips, which consists of sisters Carnie and Wendy Wilson as well as Chynna Phillips — and ultimately ended up being the only ones to get it right.
Then, it was the champ's turn to be unmasked. Once again, all of the final guesses from the panelists were ones that had already been mentioned earlier this season. For Thicke, this meant Yvette Nicole Brown, for McCarthy-Wahlberg it was Jordin Sparks, for Jeong it was Jennifer Hudson, and for Scherzinger it was Amber Riley. It's a shame the judges didn't compete for the Golden Ear Trophy this season, because Scherzinger might have won — with her guess for Harp, she got both finalists correct.
Yes, Harp was none other than Grammy-nominated, Laurence Olivier and SAG Award-winning actress and singer Amber Riley. Here, the Glee star opens up about the hardest part of doing The Masked Singer, the surprising reason we probably won't see her on Celebrity Drag Race, and details on that time she met President Obama and Oprah in the same weekend.
Michael Becker / FOX Harp performs on season 8 of 'The Masked Singer'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations on winning The Masked Singer. How do you plan to celebrate?
AMBER RILEY: Thank you. I mean I already celebrated since it was so long ago. [Laughs] I'm just excited that everybody's finally going to find out that it's me, so I can stop dodging people's questions.
Right, on the show you said only your mom knew. So now everyone in your life is finally going to know — are you going to have like a viewing party for them or any special reveal?
Honestly, I didn't really think about it, because I couldn't tell anyone for so long. So it'd probably be suspicious to be like, "Hey guys, come over and watch the season finale." [Laughs] I mean, I guess I could! But no, I don't have any plans. I'm just excited because my family watches the show. For the most part, even though I haven't told them, they know it's me. They've been listening to me sing since I was a kid, so the lying has to stop eventually.
Nicole Scherzinger guessed you very early on. I know some contestants get a kick out of that, but some really try hard not to be guessed at all. Where did you fall on that spectrum?
I fully knew that Nicole was going to know. I figured maybe not the first night, but I thought there's no way that she's not going to figure this out. I was kind of anticipating that. But it's always really awkward when they guess you and you kind of have to make sure your body language doesn't let people know that they're right. So I didn't want anybody to know it was me, but I guess my voice was a little too recognizable.
On the show, you mentioned the time that you met Oprah and she knew both you and your mom. Please tell me all about that.
Well Oprah is such a pro. So we're backstage getting ready and we were actually singing on Oprah also. And I've been watching her since I was a kid. She's been a part of my family for such a very, very long time, and it was imperative that I brought my mom with me. So we're backstage and she was doing what the pros do, you know, coming in and saying hi to everyone before she interviewed us. And not just my mom, she was like, "Hi, Amber." And I was like, shocked that she knew my name. And then she turned to my mom, and was like, "Hey, Tiny." And I'm just like, "WHAT? How did you know my mom's name?!" Obviously, she's a journalist, like a for real one, and she did her research, but just the fact that she took the time. Like, we're a really big cast. We weren't a small cast. And we all brought our parents and she knew all of their parents' names also. So just the fact that she was so personable, and she stood there, and she didn't just say hi, she sat and talked to us, and she sat and talked to my mom. I know that's a memory that me and my mother will share for the rest of our lives. Because like, yo, Oprah knows who we are.
Yeah, that's something I think I'd put on my tombstone.
Yeah, "Oprah knows my name." And mind you, I met Oprah that Friday, and sang for President Obama, our first Black president, Sunday. Like in one weekend, we met two of our first Black presidents, Oprah and Obama. [Laughs]
That's wild. I'm not sure I would have survived that.
I thought for sure that the plane was going to crash on the way home. I was like, "What else could I do in life, at this point?"
Right. Now, you're no stranger to singing and dancing and doing it in costume, so was there any part of The Masked Singer that really surprised you or was difficult for you?
Because I am a performer, I use my whole body to perform. I dance, I use facial expressions, you know, and not being able to connect with people fully and only being able to connect with them through movement and my voice, was actually a great challenge for me. But I was kind of encouraged to know my voice kind of speaks for itself. And that's not something that I would have been able to discover had I not done the show. So that was a pretty cool thing for me.
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images Amber Riley
As you probably know, we're big Drag Race fans here at EW...
As am I!
Yes, and I don't know if you know this, but on the most recent season of RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race, two of your former Glee costars competed — Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz — and Jenna even named you as the person she'd want to see on that show. Now that you've done The Masked Singer, how do you feel about that?
Oh, drag is something that I admire. I literally just went to a drag brunch yesterday. I admire it so much, but I do not think that she will be seeing me on there. It was like so much work. I can't... I don't think I can even sit there that long to get my hair and makeup done. I can barely do it on a regular level, but on a drag level? I don't know. I don't know about that one.
You also had a prominent role in the three-part docuseries The Black Beauty Effect, which premiered on the Black Experience on Xfinity channel on Nov. 25. What did that experience mean to you?
Oh, man. So I did have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing documentary called The Black Beauty Effect. And it basically talks about how Black women are the blueprint when it comes to beauty, hair, skin, makeup — we've been a blueprint in this industry. And it's an amazing story of triumph and looking at, through the years, all these amazing women that started these makeup companies and skincare companies. And even some of the actresses, we talked about our stories in Hollywood and how we've had to kind of stand our ground and take a stance on the way that we want to be presented to the world in Hollywood. It's an amazing story. It's hilarious. It's a tearjerker. It makes you feel like you can start your own beauty brand after watching it. And I hope that everyone takes the time to go ahead and look out for The Black Beauty Effect because it's an absolutely incredible documentary. It's inspiring.
Next up, Riley will be competing against her friend Chris Colfer during season 3 of Celebrity Name That Tune which premieres on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 9/8c on FOX.
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