Real-life sisters play Rayna's daughters on 'Nashville'

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 03:49 PM Written by 

stellas1NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The story of how real-life sisters Lennon Stella, 13, and Maisy Stella, 9, got cast as the daughters of Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) on "Nashville" is about as ideal as such stories come. Lennon plays Maddie and Maisy plays Daphne on the ABC drama (10 tonight, WTAE-TV).

The girls, who live outside of Nashville and attend public school (they also have a tutor on the set and at home twice a week), are the daughters of Marylynne and Brad Stella, a Canadian country-folk duo known as The Stellas.

In 2008 Marylynne and Brad got a publishing deal in Nashville and made the 15-hour drive every six weeks from their home outside Toronto down to Nashville. They relocated permanently in 2009.

real bluebirdLennon and Maisy have grown up around music and have even performed on their own at Nashville's real-life Bluebird Cafe (at right with the fake Bluebird built on the "Nashville" set below it).

A casting agent submitted Maisy as a possible young actress to play one of Rayna's daughters on "Nashville." But Maisy had no head shot, a staple for actors.

"The night before Lennon took a picture of me on her iPhone. I'm sitting on the couch and she took it," Maisy said. "On the way to the audition we stopped at Walgreen's and printed it out and my dad took a glue stick and pasted it to a piece of paper and wrote 'Maisy Stella' on the paper."

fake bluebirdIn the show's original conception, the daughters were 8 and 6 so Maisy would have played the older of the two.

"I was on my final audition with this one other girl and we were on our way there in the car and the casting director called and said, 'Is Lennon with you? How fast can you get here?'" Maisy recalled.

"I auditioned and I was so nervous," Lennon said.

Of course, the roles were reconceived and the Stella sisters got the gig and have been in the spotlight ever since, especially after their recent performance of the Lumineers' "Ho Hey" (see video at top of post), which they also sang at the Grand Ole Opry.

And they've made their own videos that have gone viral, including this cover of "Call Your Girlfriend" that has more then 16 million hits: 

Read more after the jump. ...

"My favorite part is working with the cast and learning from them," Lennon said of her "Nashville" co-stars, "because I've never done anything like it and they are the best people to learn from."

stellas3The girls do get recognized. Lennon's glasses, especially, give her away. The ones she wears on the show were hers initially and when producers couldn't find a pair they liked better, they decided to use Lennon's glasses as Maddie's glasses.

"That was cool but I wanted a separation between Maddie and Lennon and I didn't want to look exactly like my character because I didn't know how she might turn out," Lennon said. So her mom found another frame for $1 at Goodwill, she says with a note of thrifty triumph, and Lennon now wears those but they are still large glasses that bring to mind her character.

In person, Lennon is more reserved and Maisy is a cut-up who's quick to say Lennon is nothing like Maddie.

"Maddie is so rebellious and Lennon is, like, the perfect child," Maisy said.

As for Maisy, during the "Nashville" hiatus, she'll star with Katherine Heigl in a movie called "North of Hell" that's filming in New Orleans. When I asked her to repeat the title to make sure I heard it correctly, she did so reluctantly, adding, "Thanks for making me repeat that word twice."  (Timing for the schedule of the film could not be worked out so Maisy will not be in the Heigl movie.)

"Nashville" fans take note: The girls' rendition of "Ho Hey" is on the show's second soundtrack, now in stores:






Nearly 2 Million Digital Song Downloads Sold to Date from Volume 1


 Reality and drama collided with a unique twist recently for two hit ABC shows – “The View” and “Nashville.” The daytime talk show dedicated an entire episode to the new hit drama, giving the stellar cast an opportunity to announce a second soundtrack and to perform some of their favorite songs. THE MUSIC OF NASHVILLE (SEASON I, VOLUME 2) will be released May 7 on Big Machine Records. The project features new music from Connie Britton (Rayna Jaymes), Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes), Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor), Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott) and Stella Sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella, (Maddie & Daphne Conrad) – who perform in each episode weekly.


Award-winning producers T Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller, Gabriel Witcher, Garth Fundis, Frank Liddell, Dan Auerbach and Ross Copperman worked together to showcase the original content on both the show and soundtrack, respectively. Nearly 2 million digital downloads from the breakout series have been sold to date.




1. Fade Into You


Performed by Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen


Written by Matt Jenkins, Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen




2. Ho Hey


Performed by Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella


Written by Jeremy Fraites, Wesley Schultz




3. Gun for a Mouth


Performed by Sam Palladio


Written by David Poe




4. We Are Water


Performed by Hayden Panettiere


Written by Patty Griffin




5. Looking for a Place to Shine


Performed by Clare Bowen


Written by Natalie Hemby, Angela Lauer




6. Stronger Than Me


Performed by Connie Britton


Written by Sarah Buxton, Kate York




7. Bitter Memory


Performed by Connie Britton


Written by Lucinda Williams




8. Let There Be Lonely


Performed by Jonathan Jackson


Written by Laura Rogers, Lydia Rogers, Gordie Sampson




9. Hypnotizing


Performed by Hayden Panettiere


Written by Cary Barlowe, Steve Robson, Caitlyn Smith




10. I Will Fall (Studio Version)


Performed by Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio


Written by Tyler James, Kate York




11. Nothing in This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again


Performed by Hayden Panettiere


Written by Sarah Buxton, Kate York


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