[WATCH] Jennifer Nettles (‘Coat of Many Colors’): From singing with Sugarland to playing Dolly Parton’s mother

Jennifer Nettles makes it clear during our recent interview (watch above) that she has not left her red-hot music group Sugarland but couldn’t resist taking on her first major acting role when asked by Dolly Parton to portray her mother in the hit telefilm “Coat of Many Colors.” It detailed the story behind the lyrics of Parton’s hit 1971 song about her mother making her a coat from donated rags to help cheer her up after the premature death of her baby brother. The country music superstar told her, “‘My mama was me without the glitter.’ OK, I thought she was sassy, and had some spunk to her, was funny but knew when to get serious and maybe all of that without the makeup and glitter as Dolly said.”

Find out how “Coat of Many Colors” will fare at the Emmys — click here

The telefilm first aired on NBC in early December to monster ratings of over 13 million people, the highest number for a broadcast TV movie since 2012. The peacock net liked the results so much that it was aired again on Christmas Day, and ordered more movies featuring Parton songs and stories from her life. The cast, including Nettles as Avie Lee Parton, Ricky Schroder as father Robert Lee Parton, Gerald McRaney as grandfather Jake Owens, and Alyvia Alyn Lind as the young Dolly, gather again to shoot a sequel in Georgia later this summer.

Two decades in the music industry herself, Nettles has long been an admirer of Parton. She declares, “Dolly Parton is iconic, and not just in country music but in general throughout the world. She is so well-loved and not only talented as a writer, as a musician, as a singer, as a business woman, as an actress, all of the above. For me, she is one of the women in the biz to emulate.”

While this is her first time on the Emmy Awards ballot this summer (as Best TV Movie/Mini Supporting Actress), Nettles has won quite a slew of awards from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music as part of Sugarland. Although her first Grammy win was not with her group but for a collaboration with Bon Jovi on “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” (2007), Sugarland did claim musicdom’s biggest award twice in 2009 for Best Country Duo or Group and Best Country Song (“Stay”).

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