Alyvia Alyn Lind Says Singing With Dolly Parton Was “The Best Thing I Could Ever Believe!”

Alyvia Alyn Lind Annette Brown/NBC
Dolly Parton as The Painted Lady, Alyvia Alyn Lind as Dolly Parton.

Alyvia Alyn Lind is the consummate professional and possesses a maturity that belies her age. It helps that the young actor cut her chops in the fast-paced world of soap operas, and comes from a family of industry veterans (her mother Barbara Alyn Woods and her father is director John Lind), Still, after speaking with the actress about Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, I couldn’t believe that the charming young woman I’d just spoken with was only nine.

Circle of Love is the second time Lind has played the young version of Dolly Parton, she also starred as Parton in last year’s smash, Dolly Parton’s A Coat of Many Colors. We chatted for an article in TV Weekly, but I wanted to share Alyvia’s entire interview (edited slightly for clarity) because she’s such a delightfully insightful person.

But first, take a look at Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love

After you’ve wiped your tears, meet Alyvia!

Channel Guide Magazine: Hi, Olivia!
Alyvia Alyn Lind: Hi, Kellie! Nice to meet you!

Nice to meet you, too. Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me.
Oh, thank you, this is so much fun!

Today, we’re going to talk about Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. You’re playing young Dolly Parton for the second time. What’s something new that you got to do in this movie?
Well, I’m actually working with Dolly in this movie, because she actually plays a part in this movie. In the first movie, Dolly did a voiceover and we saw her in the beginning and the of the film. But this time, we actually have a lot of scenes together.

She plays the town … what’s the word? She plays the painted lady. In the movie, I see her and she’s so made up, so I say, “Man, I wanna be exactly like you when I grow up!”

What was it like for you to work with Dolly on camera?
She is so amazing as an actress and she really … her little Dolly-isms, it makes the scene so much more real. She really is really so amazing, so working with her is so much fun.

What is something, Alyvia, that you learned about Dolly’s life?
Well, Dolly had so little when she was about my age. She didn’t have that much, she didn’t have a lot of money. She didn’t have a lot, so now that she has so much, I mean, she’s an American icon and the reason that she is who she is today is because of her family and because of her family that supported her dreams. When she was little, all she believed — and I think this is so true — that you can be rich in things, but it’s so much important to be rich in love, to be rich in hope, to be rich in everything else. You can be rich in money, but it’s so much better to be rich in all of these other things.

You know, that ties perfectly into my next question. In this movie, the Parton family really sacrifices in order to give Mama a really special gift. Did that teach you anything about Christmas?
I love this movie so much because it really does … I feel like every single person in this whole movie sacrifices something. The kids sacrifice their presents. Ricky, who plays our dad in the movie, he sacrifices his life because he wants to make a little money, so he goes and he works in the coal mines. I feel like everybody sacrifices something. I think that’s such an amazing lesson.

In this movie, Dolly realizes that her voice is meant to take her out of her small How did it make you feel to know that this is what Dolly went through?
Dolly really starts to make plans to pursue her dream of becoming a country star. This movie shows that a little bit more than the last movie. It’s so cool to see that and see that she’s going little-by-little, trying to get up to the top, and now she’s way above the top. She’s known all around everywhere, all around the world. She’s accomplished so much. Knowing that, what she had at the beginning, she went little-by-little, and did little shows in little places, and today’s she performs a worldwide tour.

I’m sure when Dolly watches you, she clearly sees herself as a young girl. Has she ever given you advice about playing her?
She’s always said, “I don’t want to give advice because I want everybody to be themselves,” but she has told me to never give up on a dream. I’ve seen what Dolly has accomplished and it’s so amazing, and inspiring.

Alyvia Alyn Lind
Alyvia and her costars brave the “cold”: (l-r) top row: Dylan Michael Rowen, Kelli Berglund, Parker Sack, Jennifer Nettles, Ricky Schroder; bottom row: Farrah Mackenzie, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Blane Crockarell, Hannah Goergen Quantrell Colbert/NBC

On set, there were a lot of kids that you get to work with. Did anything funny happen with you guys at this time when you were filming?
I feel like the whole thing was funny. All the kids are so, so, so nice and it so hot outside. Literally, it was 103° every single day. It’s a winter movie, so we’re wearing all these big jackets, and all these scarves, these big wool scarves, then these big hats, and then wearing like four blankets. Then we have to pretend like we’re actually cold. The good thing is that we looked cold because our faces were red, but really we were all red because it was so hot!

It was acting of a different kind!
Yeah! [laughs]

In the movie, are there any musical performances that you really, really liked?
Basically, all of them. In this movie, we meet her uncle, Billy. He kind of helps her because she wants to be a country star, and helps her get there. He lives in Tennessee and comes to visit the family, and then she sings for him, and literally, he just … his mouth drops open. He’s like, “I want to take her back to Tennessee and I want to make her a star!”

But my favorites are definitely the scenes that I had with Dolly, because, I think it’s so much fun to do scenes together. We were singing together, that was a lot of fun for me.

Singing with Dolly

What it’s like to sing with Dolly Parton?
Oh, getting to hear that sentence, ‘singing with Dolly Parton’ and getting to say that sentence, that’s the best thing I could ever believe! When she sings, I love when she just stops singing and starts kind of talking, because all her stories are so amazing. It’s like when you listen to her, you get drawn into her. Your whole world shuts down. It’s all about her. She just drags you into this world. Dolly’s songs tell so many amazing stories that when she really starts to talk them, it’s like you can’t look at anything other than her. You can’t listen to anything other than her.

What does it mean for you to get to portray such an amazing woman?
Playing Dolly is such an honor, but also a challenge, because when you play an icon like Dolly, you really want to capture exactly who she is. She has such a humongous personality. I studied her by watching as many videos and movies as I could find, so I could really pick up her style and her mannerisms. One of the movies that watched from her was 9 to 5. That’s also, now, my favorite song and my all-time favorite movie.

Knowing that Dolly had a plan for her life from a young age, has that helped you put together a plan for your own life?
It definitely has, because I know now, I’m doing this and I’m getting to play Dolly, that’s just such a step-up to play Dolly at nine years old. I’m nine years old and I’m already saying that … I get to already say I’m playing Dolly Parton. I mean, come on, that’s the best thing. People, when they’re 30, they say, “I wish I could see Dolly Parton,” and I’m saying, “Well, I played her when I was nine!” It’s such an honor to say that I played Dolly.

Alyvia Alyn Lind
Annette Brown/NBC

About Alyvia

You’ve been acting for quite a long time. Do you remember the first thing you booked?
Yes. I do a soap opera called The Young and the Restless. I started on that when I was three years old. And I still do it today. I work on it every week, and it’s really, really fun because everybody on there is so nice and so sweet. Everybody on there’s so supportive.

What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
I like to play the guitar. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love to sing. I actually love to sing. I have a dog. She’s a maltipoo, her name’s Georgie. I love to play with her, and I like to play with my sisters. I have a lot to do in my free time, but I don’t have a lot of free time.

If you weren’t an actor, what do you think you’d like to be when you grew up?
I probably would want to be a guitar player, or a singer, or a dancer.

Did you know how to play the guitar before you were cast as Dolly?
Yeah, a little teeny bit, but getting to do a movie, it’s really wanted me to keep going with it. In the movie, I had to learn so many songs to sing. A lot of the songs don’t really go with Dolly’s, so I like to play them for my friends and stuff. I’ve been taking more guitar lessons, even though the movie is over. It’s really fun to play the guitar. You get to hold it and you get to play different chords. If I have a free night, I go in my room and discover new chords. You put your hands on a place and then play it and it sounds beautiful, and you’re like, “Can you write it down? I don’t know what this chord is, but it’s beautiful.”

Alyvia, I think people are just going to fall in love with this new movie not only because it’s Dolly Parton’s amazing life story, but because you do such an incredible job capturing her essence.
Thank you! Oh, thank you!

Thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it. Best of luck.
Thank you! Have a nice day!

Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love > NBC > Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT


  1. I was so taken by Alvia’s personification of your Dolly. I thought perhaps she was from Dolly’s family because of the mannerisms that suggested an early version of Dolly’s vavaciousness. Her voice is wonderful. I hope she can grow with it and sing as an adult for all of us. I also hope she never loses the bright and positive personality that she obviously currently has.

  2. This young lady is adorable. I loved Coat of Many Colors and watched Circle of Life. I can’t imagine another actress playing the part of Dolly. Alyvia Alyn Lind is my favorite actress; she reminds me of my granddaughter Hadley Grace.
    Please keep making some more of these movies.
    Alyvia you are precious.

  3. I looked this little girl up because I have seldom seen a child do such a magnificent job of acting and playing the part of an adult. She captured Dolly Parton’s personality to a tee, and it was just enjoyable watching her passion and enthusiasm. I have a feeling we will see this little girl in many more movies to come!

    • I agree, Lee! This young woman has it all: incredible talent, a good head on her shoulders, a supportive family and a bright future!

    • I agree…she was a perfect choice for the movie and I was captivated by her character….I could imagine Dolly being exactly like that as a child. I loved this movie and I would love to see more of Dollys life, a series would be wonderful!

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