“Nashville” star Maisy Stella is breaking out on her own.
The 13-year-old singer-actress makes her solo music debut with a special recording of “Riding Free,” the theme song to Netflix’s original animated series “Spirit Riding Free” — and only ET has the exclusive debut of the music video.
The music video, which features a cameo by Stella’s best friend, “Dance Moms” star Mackenzie Ziegler, showcases Stella in her element. The video opens with Stella in the recording studio as she effortlessly sings the inspirational song into the mic, inter-spliced with scenes from the series and candid moments with her friends.
“I was so excited; I said yes immediately. I was super excited because it was so fun to do,” Stella exclusively tells ET of the new song and music video, both of which took a day each to complete. “It was so fun to get to work with DreamWorks [Animation Television]. It’s such a cute song and the video is awesome.”
With this being Stella’s first true musical step without her older sister, Lennon — she’s best known as one half of the sibling duo, Lennon & Maisy — she admitted the experience was a bit strange at first.
“Not going to lie, it was a little weird filming a music video without her because I’m so used to having her on set,” Stella confesses. “I was a little nervous because Lennon is such, like, a comfort for me. Whenever I’m on stage and I get nervous, I just know Lennon’s there. It was a little bit scary, but it ended up going super well and everyone there was so sweet to me. It ended up going the best it possibly could have.”
As for whether fans can expect more solo works in the future, Stella was completely game, reassuring everyone that Lennon & Maisy will always be No. 1 in her heart.
“Me and Lennon will always sing music together but [this] was a cool experience, for sure,” she says.
Stella, meanwhile, has been keeping busy. She’ll wrap production on the fifth season of “Nashville” in a few weeks and is gearing up for the CMT country music drama’s summer premiere next Thursday. As Stella tells it, her character, Daphne, will continue to grieve the heartbreaking death of her mother, Rayna’s (Connie Britton), in unexpected ways.
“That would be such a traumatic thing to happen and I feel like it’s definitely something that will be hard to get through for a young kid. It’s so scary. I can’t even imagine. It was a sad thing to play but Daphne is going to eventually get through it,” she teases. “Something so terrible [as that], it’s going to take a long time but in the process of getting better and healing from that, she’s definitely going to go through something and rebel a little bit.”
In the process of her character’s grief, Stella reveals Daphne will make a new friend, who may be “a bad influence on her.”
“This season has definitely been a crazy one,” she shares. “There has been so many crazy things happening and the storylines are just so good and I’m excited everyone to see it. There’s definitely a scene with [Daphne’s] friend that I’m very excited to air, because it’s something I never got to play in all the years I was on the show.”
“It’s so sad because here’s the thing: Connie was my mom for five years,” Stella says. “Ever since I was 8, Connie was my mom. It was so sad! The episode where [Rayna] passed, it was just real emotion. We didn’t even have to act at all because we were seeing her character pass. The whole day, everyone was crying and I miss her so much.”
Though Stella doesn’t see Britton every day on set anymore, she says she and her sister do regularly keep in touch with her. “We still see her,” Stella says. “She lives in Nashville [where the show films], so we stay in touch with her. But, it is very sad walking into hair and makeup and her not being there. We love her so much.”
You can purchase Maisy Stella’s recording of “Riding Free” on iTunes today. “Spirit Riding Free” is streaming on Netflix. “Nashville” returns Thursday, June 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CMT.