Lennon and Maisy Stella on Nashville, Graduation, and Growing Up on TV
For Lennon and Maisy Stella, starring on Nashville is more than just a job—it’s the place they’ve spent their entire adolescence. The series’ fifth season—its first since moving to CMT—is currently in full swing, and tonight, the drama is celebrating its 100th episode. It’s a huge milestone for any TV show, and especially one that’s faced an uncertain future at times. But now that the series has found its new network home and settled in, the show is moving full speed ahead—and tonight’s landmark episode is no different.
“You can see in the preview for tonight’s episode that my character, Maddie, gets pulled over,” 18-year-old Lennon said when she and Maisy stopped by InStyle’s New York City HQ earlier this week. “There’s a lot of controversy surrounding that and throughout the entire episode in general. We’re just tackling some really relevant and political topics that can be hard to take on, and that’s really cool. I think this season is just a little bit deeper.”
For 13-year-old Maisy, the upcoming storylines are equally inspiring. “It’s amazing to be behind a show that is ballsy enough to take on touchy subjects right now,” she said, adding that there’s much more drama to come. “This season is really showing who the characters are, individually. Literally, so much has happened—and you guys are gonna freak out.” Scroll down for our full chat with the sister duo, and catch them in Nashville tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CMT.
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You've been playing these characters for five years now. Where would you say that Maddie and Daphne Conrad are in their lives at this point?
Lennon Stella: I can totally relate to Maddie in the way that she’s just kind of at that age where she’s finding herself in every way. She’s finding herself as an artist, as a human being, stylistically. She’s seventeen, she’s really trying to look into herself and she’s also gone through some really rough and difficult things. There’s a lot of depth to her, which has been really fun to experiment with as it’s become a lot more evident in the fifth season. Earlier, she just seemed kind of like a bratty teenage girl—but this season, it’s become a little bit clearer that she is a good person. She’s just troubled and she’s going through a lot. She has a lot of people telling her what to do and a lot of people giving her their opinions. I think she’s just confused.
Maisy Stella: I would say Daphne is definitely going through a really hard time right now, too. Her mother’s passing really messed her up. She went to her therapist and they said that she was clinically depressed, so that has been something super different for me to play. Luckily, Daphne finally got a friend, so it’s starting to get better for her. But she’s going through a lot and will start to rebel, I think, from that because it’s just ridiculous what she’s gone through and I think anyone would go a little crazy if they’ve been through what she has.
Lennon, you spent your entire teen years on the show. What was it like to grow up on TV?
LS: It’s awesome, in a lot of ways. But it’s also hard sometimes because I can’t do certain things like dye my hair pink when we’re filming. When I had a nose ring, I had to take it out for the season. There are things you wouldn’t really think would make a big difference, but I like how I feel when I just change something a little bit. You get so bored, you want to change your hair or your nail color or whatever. It can get hard when you feel like you have to stay in this little box, especially from the age of 12 to 18. That’s such a big chunk of your life where I feel like you find yourself, and you find out who you are and your style. So that’s the one thing that gets difficult. But other than that, I work with the best people, and it’s been the best experience. I love it.
Maisy just turned 13. Lennon, do you give her any advice for navigating her teen years in the spotlight?
LS: I feel like I’m very vocal about all the things that can get hard, but ultimately, there’s so much good. Sure, things can get difficult sometimes. But at the end of the day, that doesn’t outweigh all of the good things.
You both just celebrated graduations—Maisy from middle school and Lennon from high school. How does it feel to be embarking on a new chapter?
MS: It’s so weird—because if you think about it, I started the show when I was in third grade, and now I’m in ninth grade. Now I can say I’m a freshman in high school. It’s crazy.
LS: For me, it was the summer going into eighth grade that I started the show. It’s just really weird that it’s been that long. Everyone surprised us with a party on set, which was very sweet. Honestly, not gonna lie—earlier that day, I was bummed because I graduated and I felt like it just went under the radar. No one said or did anything. I was on the way to work, and I was like, “That’s really sad!” My mom and dad kept asking what I wanted to do, but I said that I didn’t want to do anything. It’s hard not being in public school anymore, because in public school, graduating high school is like, the biggest thing. So I just felt like it wasn’t even that big of a deal, and I was literally so upset that day, and then I came to work, and they completely surprised me. I was so happy!
Nashville has already been picked up for a sixth season. Is there something that you’ve always wanted your character to do that you’re hoping will happen next season?
LS: I want Maddie to get pink hair and a nose piercing and become a rock star. I would love to play just a straight-up pop-star. It would be so fun to play a diva dancing around on stage—and Maddie could be on the road to something great!
MS: I’ve always wanted Daphne to go on a unicorn and eat a lot of candy and stuff, so maybe in season 6, she’ll get to do that. Unicorns are more fun, honestly. I think maybe we could do it–if Daphne wakes up from a dream or something.