Lainey Wilson’s love for storytelling and country music began at a young age, growing up in the small town of Baskin, LA. “I grew up in a town with 200 people,” she recalls. “In a place like that, country music is really life.”
For Wilson, life was filled with singing country songs with her dad in the back of a truck or on a tractor and hearing stories around the kitchen table with her family. “It was truly a way of life for us. I couldn’t escape any of that,” Wilson says. At nine years old, Wilson wrote her first song, and at 11, her father showed her a few chords on the guitar. For the now country star, music was one of those things that “kind of chose” her. “I think that’s where my love for storytelling began, around that kitchen table with my family in Baskin.”
Even though it has taken me a lot longer than some folks…it’s kind of been my only option.
Despite facing challenges in her journey to become a country singer, including 12 years of living in Nashville without a Plan B, along with being the subject of many body-related conversations, Wilson remained dedicated to her craft. “Even though it has taken me a lot longer than some folks…it’s kind of been my only option,” she says. “I always knew I would find my way in this town, whatever that looked like.”
Now topping almost every country music chart, winning multiple coveted awards and even scoring a role on hit show Yellowstone, it’s clear Wilson’s dedication paid off in spades. Ahead, the star gets honest about her start, her struggles with body image, her time on Yellowstone and her beauty favorites.
On what makes her stand out in country music…
“I got my work ethic from my parents. My mom was a teacher; my dad is a farmer. They showed me what hard work was all about and they taught me how to keep my head down and my blinders on and pull up my bootstraps when I feel like times are getting tough.
The way that I talk also makes me stand out. [Laughs] It shocks people when I open my mouth. When I moved to Nashville, I thought, ‘I’m going to Country Music City.’ I figured people would talk like me and sound like me, but the truth is, that actually makes me different, and I wasn’t expecting that at all.
Something that makes my music stand out is that sound that I have found with my producer, Mr. Jay Joyce. I like to call him a mad scientist because he takes what I do and puts a little salt and pepper and mixes it up and makes it sound a little different. He’s helped me find what Bell Bottom Country truly is and what that sounds like and looks like.”
On dream collaborations…
“Of course, my icon is Dolly Parton. Everything about her—her style, her sense of humor. She’s an incredible human, from what it seems. Heart of gold, she tells you how it is with a little bow wrapped on top. Not many people can do that and get away with it like Dolly does. I would love to do something with her.
I would love to do something with Eric Church. I feel like he goes against the grain and does things how he wants to do them. He’s not trying to sound like anybody else. He just does what he does.
Stepping outside of country music, I would really love to do something with Miley Cyrus. And fingers crossed that happens because it would make so much sense. I used to impersonate Hannah Montana all throughout middle school and high school. I would do three or four birthday parties a weekend. So it would just make a whole lot of sense for me and her to get together.”
On navigating public conversations about her body…
It’s really important to me to use my platform to lift those women up and encourage them to embrace their curves.
“It’s been an adjustment because I personally don’t view people like that. But the truth is some folks just can’t help themselves. Last year, there was actually a trend on TikTok where everybody was talking about my big ol’ butt. And at first, I thought it was a little bit like, ‘What in the world?’ But then the bigger the trend got, I realized that there are so many women who have struggled with body image. It’s really important to me to use my platform to lift those women up and encourage them to embrace their curves.
There’s definitely been times where I’m like, ‘Why did God choose me to help with that?’ Because I’ve struggled with it myself. But that’s why he chose me to do that. Because I have struggled with it myself. So I want people to feel confident. I think it’s important to put on your bell bottoms, strut your stuff and let people talk because they’re gonna have something to say no matter what. But navigating that’s pretty dang hard.”
On her recent weight loss…
“It’s important for me to feed my body with foods that make me feel good and I’ve been trying to drink tons of water. I also just got finished with my very first headlining tour. I was playing five shows a week and they were all an hour and a half a piece. And if you’ve seen a show, then you’ll know that I do not stand still. I’m pretty much up on that stage running a marathon and I think that’s why I have kind of trimmed up a little bit. Touring is very rigorous. It’s hard on the body.
So I’m doing my best just to stay healthy. I want longevity in this and to feel good and look good. And when I say ‘look good,’ I want to be able to look in the mirror and feel positive and feel confident. I’m learning how to not let the opinions of others have any kind of impact on me. It’s really not my business what they think of me.”
On how she got started onYellowstone…
“Yellowstone had reached out to my booking agency a while ago looking for music for season two. Before I even had a record deal, they chose one of my songs, ‘Workin’ Overtime,’ and put it on the show. It really introduced me to a lot of folks. The soundtrack of this show has done a lot for unsigned artists, and even artists who are signed. It’s crazy to think that a soundtrack to a show can really have that much of an impact, but it does.
I’d never acted a day in my life. The closest thing I’d done to acting was impersonating Hannah Montana.
So they put a few more of my songs in the show, and then I got an opportunity to go out to Vegas and play a horse-riding competition that Taylor Sheridan, the writer and producer, does. I got to meet him and shake his hand and become buddies with him. I knew that my friendship with him would lead to other opportunities, but I thought that meant more music in the show or in other shows that he does. But he called me in February of 2022 and he said, ‘Lainey, I got an idea. I want to create a character specifically for you, and I want you to wear your bell bottoms and sing your own songs and pretty much be yourself and go about a musician named Abby.’ I’d never acted a day in my life. The closest thing I’d done to acting was impersonating Hannah Montana.”
On her future with acting…
“I can definitely see myself doing more acting. I’ve learned that I really love being creative and stepping outside of my comfort zone and doing things that are a little scary, because I feel like if you’re not, then you’re not growing. But no matter what, songwriting will always be my number one. That’s what has given me other opportunities to begin with. So I gotta make sure I keep that priority. But of course, I’m excited to do a little bit more acting.”
On the most surprising part about filming Yellowstone…
“I was so shocked at how similar it was to touring life. It’s a whole lot of hurry up and wait. You literally get to your trailer at 4 a.m. and get your hair and makeup done, and you show up on set and you might wait six hours just to go do your five-minute scene. It’s very similar to life on the road. You hurry up to get to the city, you set your equipment up, you do a soundcheck and then you wait 10 hours for the show. So there are a lot of similarities, even when it came to learning my lines. It was like learning a song that I didn’t write. You didn’t want to learn the lines too much. That way when you were actually saying them, it came across like a conversation instead of just this you know, robotic, knowing my line.
It was such a cool experience. I learned that the people on Yellowstone, the whole cast and crew, are really good people. Beth Dutton, Kelly Reilly, she is just as badass in person as she is on screen. I mean, she’s a genuine spitfire, but also with a heart of gold. She made me bath salts, she encouraged me, she lifted me up. I was shocked to see that super sweet side of her because when you watch her on the screen you’re scared she’s gonna put you in a headlock.
Ryan, my love interest on the show, has become a dear friend of mine. He loves my music and is such a fan of my music and shows up to shows all the time. Sometimes I think he knows the words better than I do.”
On her beauty favorites…
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation ($48): “It stays on all day—it does not move. I’ll be on stage and play an hour and a half set and I’ll come off and say, ‘Dang this, this stuff really, really works. It didn’t go anywhere.’”
MAKEUP BY MARIO Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette ($58): “I have brown eyes on some days and some days my eyes look green. This palette has a lot of really great colors for my eye colors.”
Lancôme Lash Idôle Mascara ($30): “It gives me that little boost I need so I don’t have to put on fake eyelashes. I mean, you want something a little more dramatic on stage, but normally that does it for me.”
ZO Skin Health Daily Skincare Program ($140): “Adult acne is crazy. You would have thought it would have worn off in high school, but heck no. Obagi has really helped me a lot with that. I have their Daily Skincare Program—it’s a cleanser, an exfoliator, a toner and then a Daily Power Defense brightener—and I do that morning and night.”
On taking time to relax…
“I’m really just kind of getting to a point where I’m even able to slo down. Because it has been hard; it’s been a crazy schedule. But for me, it’s about taking care of my heart and my mind, whether it’s turning on an encouraging podcast or doing some meditations. That way I can get into the mindset where I can actually pray. Because this life is so crazy that sometimes you just get caught up in a whirlwind where you have a hard time even putting your feet on the ground. And that’s another thing for me: Just going outside and putting my feet in the grass, anything like that to keep me grounded and centered. While everything’s kind of spinning around, it’s important for me to remember where I started and remember how far I’ve come.
It’s important for me to remember where I started and remember how far I’ve come.
On what’s next…
“We just started the Luke Combs stadium tour, so that’s been wild. I’ve known Luke since 2014. He used to come over to my camper trailer where I lived and we’d write music together. It’s so cool, it’s such a full-circle moment every single time I’m out there with him. It’s just crazy how far he has come. Who he is now is exactly who he was then.
I’m writing more music; I’m always writing for the next record. When I get ready to release that next record, I want to have a lot to choose from, so I gotta get down with it. And then I’m going to be doing a tour with my buddy Hardy. So lots of exciting things in the works.”