Mary Lane Haskell plays the role of Dolly Parton's teacher in the new NBC movie airing on Dec. 10.
Mary Lane Haskell portrays Miss Moody, Dolly's teacher, in "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors." The young actress shares her favorite Dolly song and talks about how Stella Parton's presence on-set impacted her.
Q. As you started to develop your character, what things about Miss Moody stood out or perhaps surprised you?
A. Miss Moody got out, she went to school, she educated herself. She had a hunger for learning but, most importantly, she had a passion for coming back home and sharing that learning with these kids. That was something that I loved learning about her.
Q. The Parton family is known for their tight-knit bonds. While filming, did the cast develop similar family-like relationships?
A. Oh Yes! It was about a 20-day shoot, we were all there living in this little hotel in Conyers, GA. It had a pool out back and after a long day of shooting, everybody would go out back and swim in the pool. We'd have movie nights where we'd all get together and watch movies in one of our hotel rooms, and we did become a family. We all miss each other. We're all very connected on social media still.
Q. Considering everything you have done in your career, where does this role rank in your list of achievements?
A. As far as acting achievements, especially television, I would consider it my big break. I lived in New York for eight years, and I did a lot of singing work. I debuted at Carnegie Hall when I was 18 and had sung all over New York in concert venues. This was the first time that I've had a character that stuck around for the whole thing. It really was incredible and what I'm hoping will be a career-defining role for me. I loved every moment of it, and I feel very, very blessed.
Q. The song "Coat of Many Colors" first debuted in 1971, yet it still has a powerful message for people today. Why do you think people relate so well to this story?
A. I think it's because there are so many facets of the story. Of course, there are the people who experience the poverty and the struggle that the Parton's faced in 1955. They hear how Dolly rose above it.
I was bullied as a child. [I thought] if Dolly Parton can be bullied and become what she has become, then what's going to stop me from achieving my dreams? If you know who you are and you like who you are and you have a family you love and that supports you in your dreams, then you can achieve anything. I think that's something that I always related to as a child listening to "Coat of Many Colors."
Q. Other than "Coat of Many Colors" do you have a favorite Dolly song?
A. That's almost an impossible question because I have so many favorite Dolly Parton songs, but I would have to say "The Seeker" is probably my all-time favorite. I think it's such a great message about no matter where we are in our lives, no matter how successful or no matter what's going on, we have to remember that we're all just seekers. We're all just looking to do right by the Man from which all blessings flow.
Q. What was your favorite moment of making the film or your favorite takeaway?
During the final scene, I was sitting next to Miss Stella Parton. Miss Stella was moved on a different level. In that moment, I realized this was something from her life that actually happened in her life, and watching her react to seeing it unfold again in such an authentic way was so special.
See more cast interviews and tune in Thursday, December 10 at 9/8c on NBC to watch Mary Lane Haskell as Miss Moody in "Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors."