"I can do a lot more than I thought that I could," the actress tells PEOPLE

By Dahvi Shira
Updated September 24, 2013 09:00 AM
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

As any Glee fan knows, Amber Riley has talent. But the actress has taken her skills to a whole new level on Dancing with the Stars.

“This has taught me that I can do a lot more than I thought I could,” a choked-up Riley, 27, told PEOPLE after scoring 24 points for her jive with Derek Hough on Monday night’s show.

“Tonight was – I’m not even on camera and I’m crying like a dork. But it really has taught me that I can do more than I thought I could.”

Part of what has helped her believe in herself is support from Emmy winner Hough.

“Derek keeps me from getting negative,” Riley explains. “When I get to that place, he’s good at redirecting me. Even in my everyday life, I can learn from that.”

Adds the star: “I’m just having so much fun. I’m having so much fun that I don’t even think about [scores], especially when I’m on the dance floor.”