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Stella Parton shares her thoughts on the cast of “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” and her own role in the film.
Dolly’s sister, Stella Parton, is the sixth child born to Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton. An accomplished singer, songwriter and actress, Stella landed her own role in the film. She plays Corla Bass, the town gossip. In addition to her on-screen role, Stella also acted as the on-set Parton family representative, providing the actors with valuable insight into their characters. Many cast members were touched by the way in which Stella’s presence provided a real-life look at this treasured story.
Q. Many of the cast members have mentioned how special the shoot was because you were there. What are your thoughts on that?
A. Well, I tried to be a representative of the family, since I was the only family member there, and since I was the only one who would know everyone in the cast. I tried to give the kids and the cast some insight into my siblings, parents, grandparents and aunts. I wanted them to have as much of a personal feeling about [their character] as they could, so they’d have intimacy with the characters they were portraying.
Q. Could you share with us a little insight about your role in the upcoming film?
A. This was kind of a unique situation for me because I’m portrayed in the film as a six-year-old. Farrah Mackenzie did a beautiful job, she’s so tender and so sweet and so feminine. For me to get to audition and to get a role, a dramatic role as the church gossip, I thought that was kind of fun too. I kind of took my character from three different people I knew as a kid.
Q. The Parton family is known for their tight-knit bonds. While filming, did the cast develop similar family-like relationships?
A. I think they did, yes, especially Bobby and Stella. I thought they had a real tight-knit bond. As the weeks wore on, I saw all the children kind of bond as if they were siblings. That was very sweet and tender to me. I was glad I could observe that and hopefully contributed a little bit to that by just being able to give them insight into our personalities.
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 everybody has empathy for an underdog. I think that everyone wants to see triumph over tragedy. I think each life, in its own way, has had a tragic thread in it; but each life, I believe, has a triumphant thread in it. “Coat of Many Colors” is an example of that, a supreme example of that, and I also think Dolly’s gift as a songwriter is able to interweave that throughout the thread of the story.
Q. What was your favorite moment or take away from the movie?
A. There were so many, but I think as much as anything, just watching the children interact in the living room with my parents. Those were some of the most tender parts of the film for me.
Stella’s closing remarks on the significance of worship in the film.
A. It was very, very important to me that everyone see the film and the honest, sincere form of worship that I grew up with. I wanted all the actors to also see that. They all got into it in a very sincere way. I loved it, and I thought it was very, very special. I believe people will see it as a high point in the film.
See more cast interviews and tune in Thursday, December 10 at 9/8c on NBC to watch Stella Parton as Corla Bass in “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.”