Lucy Riles called it “absolute serendipity.”
The Beverly native’s much-anticipated book was released on Nov. 16, and on Friday, Nov. 20, a reality TV show that she appeared in with her beloved dog will be unveiled on Amazon Prime Video.
Riles, now a Los Angeles-area resident, recently wrote “Mom vs. Dad” with her husband, and in it, they share advice on the lighthearted arguments between spouses.
Early this year, she was a part of the cast in “The Pack,” a TV show similar to “The Amazing Race” in which she traveled around the world.
As she prepares for the show’s release, Riles is ecstatic and hopes it’s a family feel-good series for the holidays.
“They really made sure it was not your typical reality TV show,” Riles said. “It’s very positive. It really focuses on the love and bond you have with your dog and how amazing these relationships are and what incredible things you can do the closer you are … to your dog.”
Riles appears on “The Pack” with her 8-year-old black Labrador, Duchess. Riles couldn’t divulge which countries they visited, but contestants do travel to Mexico, Costa Rica, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and England trying to win $500,000 for themselves and $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice.
Duchess is a “backyard dog,” Riles said, like so many other pets. As a stay-at-home mom, she takes her on walks around the neighborhood, and the dog obeys common commands.
But, when Riles was selected for the show after being contacted again by a casting director who had interviewed her previously, she was stunned at the competitors she and her dog would face. Some were mountain-climbing dogs, and one was a model that had appeared on the cover of Bloomingdale’s magazine.
However, Duchess is also unique, Riles said, because she helps the family care for Riles’ daughter who has special needs.
That motivated her to pick “Paws With a Cause” as her charity, as the non-profit provided a therapy dog to the Clam Family, of Morgan Park, to assist their young son who has special needs.
Riles said she wears her South Side roots as a “badge of honor,” and she frequently mentions her home community during the show.
She’s also excited that Duchess cast her breed in a positive light. She rescued the dog when it was 4 months old, and appearing on the show allowed the busy mother to enjoy time with her.
“She didn’t disappoint the Lab [demographic],” Riles said. “She was so amazing. … She’s been by my side every step of the way. To be able to just focus on her and share this experience with her was so special, and it made our bond that much closer.”
Riles is a Christ the King Elementary School and Mother McAuley High School graduate. She took part in McAuley’s esteemed theater program, then earned a college degree in theater.
Riles will celebrate the launch of “The Pack” on Thursday, Nov. 19, with a drive-in parade at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
The youngest of 12, she plans to return to Beverly for Thanksgiving and watch the show with her 89-year-old father, Jim Bansley.
“I need to be in person sitting in the TV room with him while watching the show because I can’t wait for him to see what his baby girl does,” Riles said. “I’m a dog lover at heart because of my mom and dad’s love for dogs throughout my whole life. So, to be able to go into his home with by black Lab, the same breed that I grew up with, and to be able to have my dad see these moments that are going to blow his mind, I just have to be in person to watch it.”
Riles will also celebrate her book with her family.
She and her husband, Tom Riles, originally performed live-stage interactive comedy shows in Chicago and L.A., where they debated disagreements between spouses or roommates—including the thermostat temperature and whether the toilet paper should come over the top of the roll or from the bottom.
They even delved into whether her husband should throw away his 20-year-old cargo shorts—several audience members in Chicago stood up in support of such shorts, she said, but only one person did in L.A.
The couple then turned their show into a podcast, which led to writing the book. They have over 4 million followers on social media.
Tom works in audience warm-up on “The Ellen Show,” Riles said, and is comfortable engaging with live audiences. The couple appeared on the show to promote the book.
Their message is to take the “everyday idiosyncrasies” that couples or roommates bicker over and have fun with them.
“We fight about it,” Riles said, “but in a really fun, don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously kind of way.”
“Mom vs. Dad” is available on amazon.com.
Like everyone else, Riles has been adhering to safety measures since COVID-19 struck, and her children haven’t been able to go to school.
She hopes “The Pack” can provide a bit of joy. She remains friends with the other competitors, she said, and while they are different, they share a love of dogs.
“I can’t wait for the world to see it,” Riles said. “It’s just a happy, positive message that I think the world really needs right now.”