More than a decade after impersonating TV’s Hannah Montana for extra cash, Lainey Wilson found herself on the same flatbed stage she performed on in her high school days— but this time singing the words to her own hits for a scene in Paramount’s Yellowstone.
The country singer-songwriter reflects on the surreal moment— one of many she’s had during her acting debut as free-spirited musician Abby in Season 5 of the hit series.
“I’m on this flatbed stage singing once again, but not in my Hannah Montana wig. And I thought, dang, this is a full-circle moment for me,” Wilson told The Tennessean. “And I’m singing ‘Watermelon Moonshine,’ a song about young, wild and crazy love.”
The Louisiana native also stepped into new territory with her first onscreen kiss as the romance between her and ranch hand Ryan (Ian Bohen) began to boil. Bunkhouse boy/wingman Walker (Ryan Bingham) took the liberty of borrowing the stage, so Ryan could ask Abby to dance— landing him a smoking make out session and finally succeeding the anticipation of avid Yellowstone viewers.
She told them, “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but you go in there head-first. I was going to give people their money’s worth. I told my mommy and daddy, ‘You might not want to watch this show.’ I don’t want to be on their prayer list.”
Sunday’s episode was Wilson’s third appearance on the series, however her music has been featured in previous seasons of the hit show. Yellowstone creator and executive producer Taylor Sheridan has been a longtime supporter of Wilson’s style and music, incorporating her song “Working Overtime” in Season 2 before she even had a recording contract. Sheridan told her last February he wanted to create a character that resembled Wilson, and Abby came to life in Season 5.
She added, “[Sheridan] said he wanted me to pretty much be myself, which is a dream come true, especially when you’re trying to introduce yourself to people,” said Wilson. “All I got from him at that time was that I would play a musician who would fall in love with one of the boys. He didn’t even tell me which one.”
The beginning of her acting career nearly took a sharp turn when her father, Brian, was put in the intensive care unit with a fungal infection, almost causing Wilson to cancel her dream job. He insisted that she get back to work and finish the job.
“He said: ‘I don’t care if it’s my funeral. If you have a job to be done, you better go do it. And don’t come back until it’s finished,'” Wilson recalled. “I packed my bags. That gave me the strength to do it. But I won’t lie, I’d shoot my scene, go to the corner and cry a little bit.”
Her first scene in the show was alongside the aggressive and intimidating Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly). Wilson admitted to feeling a bit unnerved in her presence, but quickly discovered Reilly has the opposite personality of her character in the show.
She shared with them, “I told (Reilly) when I met her, ‘I thought you were going to put me in a headlock,'” said Wilson. “But we got along great. She even gave me some handmade bath salts.”
Wilson took to Instagram to share a behind-the-scenes montage of her on set in Montana.
“If you had told lil Lainey she’d be performing on a flat bed for a TV show she would’ve called you crazy #yellowstonetv #bellbottomcountry #watermelonmoonshine”
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While not on Yellowstone, the country singer is continually adding to her list of accolades after bringing home two CMA awards for New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year in November, and ACM Song of the Year and New Female Artist of the Year earlier this year.
Wilson is also about to embark on her 27-city tour for her new album, Bell Bottom Country, beginning in January.