Connie Britton is one of those actors that just seems to be in everything. From "Spin City" to "The West Wing," from "24" to "Friday Night Lights," from "Nashville" to "American Horror Story," and from "Dirty John" to "The White Lotus," Britton has had a television career that most actors could only dream of.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Virginia, per TV Guide, Britton grew up with a passion for performing. She went on to study Asian studies in college before moving to New York, where she got her start in the theater (via AllMusic). When she was cast in the film "The Brothers McMullen" and Ellen DeGeneres’ show "Ellen" in 1995, her on-screen career soon took off. The rest is history — since then, most of us have probably seen Britton in at least one of her many TV roles. However, there’s still a lot you might not know about the seasoned actor.
Connie Britton never fully got over her fear of singing for Nashville
One of Connie Britton’s biggest roles to date was in the ABC show "Nashville." The show follows several musicians in the famous country music capital of America. In the show, Britton plays Rayna Jaymes, a country singing superstar.
Most fans of the show can probably agree that Britton completely nailed all of her musical scenes. But as it turns out, the actress wasn’t initially too keen on singing on TV — not because she wasn’t good, but because she had lost her confidence. "I grew up singing," Britton told Entertainment Weekly. "My mother was a music teacher and I trained for [musicals] in drama school." However, once Britton moved to New York, she discovered that the musical theater stars of Broadway were, at least according to her, a class above. "I’m a perfectionist, so I let that go by the wayside," she said.
At first, Britton was "terrified" to record her songs for the show’s soundtrack. "I was so nervous that I would not let anybody listen to me sing until we had recorded the song," she confessed.
She wasn’t always happy with her TV roles
Looking at Connie Britton’s resume today, most people would be blown away by the number of major roles the actor has taken on over the years. However, it turns out Britton didn’t always enjoy her earlier roles as much as her fans might have thought.
As Britton explained to W Magazine, she grew up watching shows like "Mary Tyler Moore" and "I Love Lucy" that featured strong, multi-dimensional female characters. "I still grew up in a time, and came up in a time, where a lot of what you saw in women’s roles, particularly in film, was very supporting, very supportive, and very decorative," she said. In fact, as it turns out, many of Britton’s earlier roles only had dimension and complexity because she made them that way. "I kind of made a career out of taking a role that isn’t so very flushed out, and giving it humanity and levels and dimension, which I think most women have had to do."
In the last few decades, however, Britton has been pleased to see a change in how women are represented on screen.
She used to write poetry
Connie Britton may be known for her work as an actor, but performing isn’t her only talent. As she explained to Garden & Gun, she also loves to write. "I used to write poetry," she said. "I have journals filled with poetry that I hope no one will ever read. For some reason, I just stopped writing."
Even though Britton gave up writing poetry, it’s clear that her love of writing in verse has never left her — in fact, she’s recently taken up songwriting with her friend Amy Cook. "She was like, come on, we are going to write a song together," Britton said in Garden & Gun. "I guess I’m trying to shake up some poetry again. You know, let my voice be freer and freer." While we may never get the chance to read any of Britton’s poetry for ourselves, it sounds like writing is just another creative outlet for the actor.
Connie Britton spent time studying in Beijing with a famous politician
Before Connie Britton became an actor, she studied Asian studies at Dartmouth, per IMDb. "I wanted to study the coolest language I could, and that was Chinese," Britton told Men’s Journal. "Then I studied abroad in Beijing." Moving to Beijing was a big "culture shock" for the young Britton. "It was the ’80s, pre–Tiananmen Square," she said. "China was very closed, very Communist, and there weren’t a lot of people there who weren’t Chinese." While in Beijing, Britton lived with three other women who were studying abroad — and one of them was none other than Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic New York Senator who ran for the presidential nomination in 2020. "We relied on each other and bonded in a very deep way," Britton said. "It was a big leap to go from Lynchburg, Virginia to Beijing, China in 1986. So we held onto each other for dear life."
She called herself a dweeb when it came to her hair
Fans of Connie Britton love her acting first and foremost — but her incredible hair takes a close second. Simply check out the Twitter hashtag #conniebrittonhair to see what we mean — people are obsessed. But it seems Britton doesn’t quite understand all the hype. "To me, it’s so funny that my hair has sort of taken on this life of its own; to me, it doesn’t have any of that," she told Vulture. "I don’t have the attachment to it that others do."
In fact, it turns out Britton doesn’t even spend much time on her hair at all. "My approach to how I style my hair, especially when I’m on my own, is less is more, because frankly, I’m a real dweeb when it comes to being able to make my hair look good," she told Popsugar. "Like I am so not talented with a round brush or a curling iron … I go for several days without washing my hair." We’re impressed that Britton hasn’t let her hair’s fame go to her head — pun intended!
Connie Britton almost starred in this famous rom-com
These days, Connie Britton is best known for her many TV roles. However, there was a time when her career could have gone very differently. As the actor told Vulture, she came very, very close to landing the leading role in the famous rom-com "Jerry McGuire."
"[Producer] Jim Brooks had seen ‘Brothers McMullen’ and loved it and called me into his office … So I read the script and the next day walked into my brand-new agent’s office and said, ‘I have two words for you: ‘Jerry Maguire.’" she recalled. Britton auditioned for the part and the writer/director, Cameron Crowe, was blown away. "That began a six-month odyssey, during which they cast Tom Cruise and flew me to New York to read with him," Britton went on. "Then there was talk about them casting a bigger name." Eventually, Britton discovered that it was down to her and Renée Zellweger. "Needless to say, it was one of the great heartbreaks of my life," she concluded.
She was inspired by the movie Foul Play as a child
Long before Connie Britton got her first role, she was just another kid with big dreams of performing. Ever since she was young, she has kept coming back to one movie: Colin Higgins’ "Foul Play." The 1978 film follows a librarian who joins forces with a cop to solve a mystery — and, of course, falls in love.
"I kind of grew up watching these great romantic comedies that I feel, we don’t make them the way we used to," she told NPR. "So I just loved that funny, romantic relationship, and I loved Goldie Hawn — huge fan of Goldie Hawn — and that Goldie Hawn/Chevy Chase dynamic, I could watch it over and over again, and I did."
As a child, Britton explained, she learned a lot from the movie. For one thing, she learned that she wanted to play "full-fledged" characters as an adult: "I think that was because I was so heavily influenced by funny ladies such as Goldie Hawn," she mused.
Connie isn’t afraid to address her white privilege
Over the years, Connie Britton has begun to come to terms with her privilege as a white woman in America. In 2011, she traveled to Ethiopia to film a documentary. "I really bumped up against that idea of the white savior," she explained to the Independent. "And in fact, I couldn’t really get past that. Even though I spent time in Ethiopia and shot a lot of footage and had a story to tell, I didn’t know how I could find the way in that felt truly authentic." In the end, the documentary was never released, but Britton was inspired to adopt a son from Ethiopia.
While Britton doesn’t believe herself to be racist, she still thinks it’s important to address her own privilege. "If I can’t do that, then I’m living in my own version of denial," she said. "We just all really have to wake up. Even if you think you’re the one white person who can do no wrong, you’re not!"
She has a great at-home routine on her days off
So what does Connie Britton do in her spare time? Apparently, when she isn’t working, she spends her time much like the rest of us. Her average Sunday morning consists of hiking and going out for brunch. "Now that I have a 16-month-old son, my weekend ritual has changed — but it’s better than ever," she told Oprah.com in 2012. "We get up early and go for a walk on one of the hiking trails near my home in Los Angeles, then meet up with friends at a diner. There’s nothing better than sipping coffee, eating scrambled eggs, and taking three hours to do it."
She also spends much of her free time online shopping. "I have a serious shopping problem," she confessed. As for rainy days, Britton loves settling down to one of her all-time favorite movies, "Thelma & Louise." "I was in college the first time I saw it, and it’s such a great women’s movie," she gushed. "I mean, a great everyone movie."
Britton also enjoys getaways to a special destination in the Mayan Riviera. "I hesitate to give the name because I don’t want everyone else to discover it," she said. "The whole place is beautiful and authentic. I’ve probably been 10 times in the past 10 years."
Connie Britton built a lifelong friendship with her Friday Night Lights costar Kyle Chandler
From 2006 to 2011, Connie Britton starred in "Friday Night Lights" alongside costar Kyle Chandler. During her five years on the show, Britton developed a strong friendship with Chandler. In a banter-filled interview with Entertainment Weekly, Britton and Chandler revealed a little more about their relationship.
The two described how during their first meeting, they knew right off the bat that they would work well together. "He’s the most authentic, real person, and you get that right off the bat, of course," Britton said. Chandler agreed, saying that "I think we both knew pretty soon it was going to be a fun relationship."
Since the show ended, Chandler revealed, "She only calls at, like, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. and leaves quick little expletives." Added Britton jokingly, "Obviously, he’s thrilled about our separation."
However, the pair admitted that being apart was strange. "I feel like it’s been a roller coaster," Britton confessed. "We actually haven’t really talked much. I feel like we were ripped from each other by circumstance." When asked if they had a "lifelong friendship," Britton simply answered, "Yes," while Chandler added, "I wouldn’t doubt that."
She struggled to watch herself on screen in Dirty John
In 2018, Connie Britton starred in the true crime series "Dirty John," based on the podcast of the same name. Even though Britton was pleased with the show, as she confessed to E! Insider, she struggled to watch it at first.
"I have not watched past episode 2," she said. "I don’t know, I think I get too nervous." While Britton couldn’t bring herself to watch the show on screen, she explained that she did want to watch it eventually. "I love everybody in the cast so much — it’s such an incredible cast and they do such amazing work in the show," she said. Britton added that she planned to watch it once the entire series had aired. "It’s nice to have a little break from it and then sit down and watch it like a regular audience member," she said.
Connie Britton is passionate about politics
Some actors choose not to be outspoken about their personal political views — and for a while, Connie Britton fit into this category. But in recent years, she’s changed her tune. These days, Britton is passionate about voicing her political opinions for the whole world to hear. In 2018, she made a video called "Connie Britton on Why Midterms Matter." Plus, she donated $5,400 to Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s campaign in 2018 during the midterms (via the Houston Chronicle).
"Getting political felt like a necessity this year," she explained to Elle in 2018. "But I think that as I go forward, I’m focused on what I’ve been focusing on all along — human rights issues, gender equality, and alleviating poverty, and all the things I’ve been doing with the U.N., which all feel extremely relevant in the United States as well right now. I’m just going to keep going with that work."
She tries to include meditation in her routine
As Connie Britton has gotten older, she’s begun to focus more and more on her self-care routine. While she says she doesn’t love the gym, one of the key things she tries to include in her day-to-day life is meditation, as she told Health.com in 2020.
"Meditation has been a big part of my adult life," she said. "Meditation, breathing, and connecting to whatever is my own version of my center." Sometimes, Britton spends a quick 10 minutes focusing on her breathing, and other times, she spends a few moments meditating before shooting a scene. "It’s about going deeper than the external noise," she explained. "To me, that’s a really important tool. And I really believe it helps with wrinkles. We can change our body chemistry through meditation." Sounds like meditation hasn’t just helped Britton on the inside, it’s helped her on the outside, too.
Connie studied with the famous acting teacher Sanford Meisner
Because Connie Britton didn’t initially study acting in college, she had planned to go to drama school after earning her first degree. However, after auditioning for the big American drama schools and being met with rejection, she ended up going to the Neighborhood Playhouse, a drama school run by the famous acting teacher Sanford Meisner in New York.
"He was still around and he would come in and teach classes once in a while," she recalled. However, her experiences with him weren’t always pleasant. "He was very mean, especially to ladies," she said to the Archive of American Television. As she recalled, Meisner would ask each student to perform a piece they had prepared. At the end, he often asked them who their regular teacher was and expressed his disappointment. Performing for him at the school was, as Britton put it, "a nightmarish experience."
Britton later went on to study with other teachers to "round out" her training — but, as she explained, Meisner’s technique of listening to the other actors on stage or on set has always been a huge part of her process and "is to this day very useful."