Riley, along with professional partner Derek Hough, cha-cha-cha'ed her way to a tie for the highest-ever opening week score with 27, grabbing 9s from all three judges.
"You are the tigress of Season 17," judge Bruno Tonioli told Amber. "That's how you take it, that's how you shake it, that's how you make it yours!"
On the opposite end of the spectrum was fan favorite Bill Nye, whose awkward cha-cha-cha to "Weird Science" with new pro Tyne Stecklein earned the night's lowest score.
“It was like being waxed: it was painful when it happened and lovely when it was over,” said head judge Len Goodman.
The judges thought the choreography lacked enough cha-cha elements and that Nye looked stiff -- but the audience expressed their vehement disagreement to the judges' 14-point score with a loud chorus of boos.
Amber Riley & Derek Hough, cha cha, 27/30
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff, contemporary, 24/30
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy, contemporary, 24/30
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke, foxtrot, 23/30
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi & Sasha Farber, cha cha, 23/30
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd, cha cha, 22/30
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas, contemporary, 22/30
Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus, foxtrot, 21/30
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani, foxtrot, 21/30
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater, foxtrot, 18/30
Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess, cha cha, 17/30
Bill Nye The Science Guy & Tyne Stecklein, cha cha, 14/30
Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over Sarah Palin comments
Exploding whale video goes viral on Internet