TV

Reasons To Love Connie Britton

She makes pro-choice T-shirts for #StandWithWendy now. Also, that hair.

You know when two things you like get smooshed together to make an even better thing? Like croissants and donuts? Like hoodies and Wayne Swan? Well, this is like that, but better: Connie Britton, leading lady of Nashville and Friday Night Lights, has lent her support to Texan abortion rights, releasing a line of t-shirts through the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

tamit

The T-shirts, available here, are inspired by champion Texan Senator Wendy Davis, whose marathon filibuster two weeks ago helped bring international attention to a proposed legislation that would put abortion clinics out of business. Available in orange and white, the shirts say “WWTTD: What Would Tami Taylor Do?” on the front and “standwithtexaswomen.org” on the back and are, quite frankly, perfect. They speak directly to the pink runner-wearing women of Texas, and add yet another trophy to the shiny shiny cabinet that is “reasons to love Connie Britton”.

Here are some more:

1. Her Characters

Let’s start with the obvious: her characters are kick arse.

On Friday Night Lights, Coach’s wife, Tami Taylor, developed a cult following for her unwillingness to play a sweet and submissive sidekick to Coach’s role in the community of Dillon, Texas. Mocking the local ladies for their gossipy book club, taking demanding job after demanding job all the while being a remarkably sane, supportive and thoughtful wife and mother have made Tami Taylor a character to rival the Lizzy Bennetts of this world. Perhaps even more impressive than that, Britton’s constant pushing for writers to give her a 3D character resulted in one of the most watchable loving marriages in TV history.

Not an easy feat when the other options are far more tried and true: dramatic divorces, sexy affairs and easy-to-write invisible women.

2. Her Hair

Have you seen this lady’s hair? It’s not like I’ve gone as far as to make one of several tumblr accounts devoted the iconic golden locks, but I’m pretty sure it’s the source of most of her power. Here’s a quote I found on Avidly:

“There’s no way Connie Britton’s Hair would have the aura it does without Tami Taylor. But it seems fair to say that Tami Taylor couldn’t have done what she did without Connie Britton’s Hair.”

See? Powerful hair.

3. Britton Was In The West Wing

Britton wasn’t always a prime-time star. She started out doing years of off-broadway productions after university, and in 1995 she was turned away as lead lady for Jerry Maguire, instead making a living teaching aerobics and filling in here and there

In 1996, during the breakdown of her marriage, she scored a regular spot on Spin City and, later, a few episodes during Season Three of The West Wing. She played Connie Tate, a staffer working on President Bartlett’s re-election campaign.

As a recent New York Times profile notes, the golden decade of an actress’ career, her 20s, went by and nothing big landed in Britton’s lap. As a 20-something, this makes me feel 100% less depressed but probably more importantly, I think it makes for a pretty great life story. Britton is still new enough to success to be meticulous and earnest, but experienced enough in life to have self belief.

4. She’s A Wendy Davis Look-Alike

It’s uncanny.

conniewendy

Again, I realise this is not a real reason to like or dislike anyone, but can you imagine if they make a move of #standwithwendy and don’t cast Connie Britton? The internet would go insane. That has got to be worth something.

5. She Refuses To Act Her Age

As Junkee readers well know, ageing gracefully is no fun at all. Britton’s newest role, as the sexy middle age country songstress Rayna James in Nashville, is yet another triumph of her advocating for better characters. On pushing back against the old and washed up vibe, she said this: “In my experience, what’s true as a woman is very different from some of the more clichéd ways we’ve represented women over the years. I want to tell a more complex story. I want to tell a more empowered story, a more joyful story, a more sexy story.”

And what a sexy story Nashville is. Rayna James is a caring mother, hard-working musician and, without giving too much away, manages a robust love life while standing leagues ahead of her younger competitor Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere).

See also: her hair.

6. She’s Got Game IRL

Producer friend, Sarah Aubrey, on her personal life: “In my experience of watching Connie Britton’s dating life, it has not been Connie getting beaten out by 25-year-old girls, let’s leave it at that.”

7. Possible Life Coach

The main reason I love Connie Britton is that I’m 150% sure she’d be a pretty great friend and mentor. Imagine if she ever left acting and started a life coaching company? I would buy shares in that. She’s brutally honest verging on tactless and frightening, but these are qualities I admire in a person. Britton’s never hidden her age (46 this year) or her political persuasion (she once wrote an op ed in favour of Obama). A recent quote from the lady herself: “Sometimes my favourite directors are the ones I literally want to punch in the nose.”

Indeed. It is perhaps because of these directors that she self-financed an (unfinished) documentary about Ethiopian orphans. During one of these trips, she decided to adopt her now two-year-old son, Eyob. Without getting into the politics and ethics of this kind of adoption, it is clear is that Britton completely loves her son, and like everything else she does, decided to take the welfare of the orphans she was documenting very personally.

eyob

Fierce, unapologetic and un-ironic. Lady role models don’t come much better than that.

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran is a broadcaster, programmer, writer and editor. She’s been published in The Age, Frankie, Thought Catalog, and Crikey, made radio at RRR, 3CR and the ABC, and helped program the National Young Writers’ Festival and the Melbourne Writers Festival. Follow her @bhakthi.