While living in Austin for five years as she filmed NBC’s Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton created one of the most memorable and beloved television characters in recent memory. Her performance as Tami Taylor—a grounded, small-town Texas woman of integrity, warmth, and humor—resonated with female viewers hungry for relatable characters on the small screen.
In ABC’s Nashville, Britton plays yet another strong protagonist, country music star Rayna Jaymes. Britton, who received Lead Actress Emmy nominations for her roles on those two shows as well as in American Horror Story, will star in two movies set to be released this year: Me & Earl & The Dying Girl and American Ultra. Although she now lives in Nashville with her son, Yoby, Britton often returns to Austin to soak up the music scene. Here, she talks to Austin Way about why this city means so much to her and why she comes to South by Southwest, even as her local friends flee the crowds.
You lived in Austin for five years while shooting Friday Night Lights. What do you miss most about the city?
CONNIE BRITTON: Everything. I love Austin. I’m a huge Austin fan. I love that there’s music everywhere, and it’s so laid-back, nonchalant, and creative. It’s a great community. It feels very inclusive. The food is great…. I could go on. [Laughs] I get back here whenever I can—[especially] for music festivals.
People love to compare/contrast Nashville and Austin because of their music scenes. Now that you’ve lived in both, what’s your opinion?
CB: It’s funny, because when I first came to Nashville, people told me, “Oh, it’s just like Austin,” and I thought it would be. But I feel the two towns are very different. Certainly, in terms of the friendliness of the people, they are comparable; the people in Nashville have been as incredibly friendly and welcoming as people were to us in Austin. But I do feel that Nashville is really much more spread out. Nashville is where the music business lives. In Austin, it feels less [about the music business] and more as though people are just playing live, writing songs, and making music. It feels much more immediate because it’s a lot more about the live music.