Tonight, Jennifer Nettles makes her television acting debut, starring in the NBC movie based on Dolly Parton’s classic song, “Coat of Many Colors.” Jennifer takes on the pivotal role of the Parton matriarch, who crafts a coat from scraps for her nine-year-old daughter, even as she’s dealing with the loss of a baby.
Knowing how important the portrayal is to Dolly herself, Jennifer says she took the honor of playing Avie Lee Parton very seriously and gleaned as much information as she could from the entertainment legend.
“We had a chance to talk about it a good bit, you know. And I asked her, because that relationship is so sacred and I didn’t want to mess it up and I wanted to do it honor, I said ‘How was your mom?… Was she funny, was she serious, how was she?’ And she said, ‘She was both. She liked to laugh and liked to have a good time, but she knew when to get serious,’” Jennifer says, quoting Parton.
Dolly’s most insightful advice came down to one line. “She said, ‘I’ll put it to you like this. My Mama was me without the glitter,’” Jennifer recalls. “And I said, ‘All right! I got it! That paints a very descriptive picture for me, for who Avie Lee was.’”
And as for who Dolly is — after working with her, Jennifer says she’s everything you’d want her to be.
“What gem! Everybody loves her, and rightfully so — just one of the most authentic people and artists that there are. And I think that’s why people love her so much is who you see on stage is absolutely who she is, you know. She is… just so smart and talented.”
Ricky Schroder plays Parton’s father, while actress Alyvia Alyn Lind is Dolly as a child. Even though Dolly herself is not in the movie, she does contribute music and voiceovers to the project. You can watch Coat of Many Colors tonight at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
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