Dolly Parton steps into the room and it’s impossible to overlook her: She’s petite — though her hair adds considerable height to her 5-foot-1 frame — with a waist as tiny as they come. To no one’s surprise, she’s all dolled up like she’s about to go on stage, even though it’s just after noon on a Saturday and we’re only chatting in a hotel room.

Parton, 65, is here to promote “Joyful Noise,” her new movie about a down-on-their-luck choir trying to take home a national championship. She plays G.G. Sparrow, a feisty choir member whose vision for the singers is at odds with that of the group’s new director, Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah). Taking on the role, Parton says, was a no-brainer.

“Well I just couldn’t see how I couldn’t play this part,” she says in her trademark Southern twang. “[Director] Todd Graff said he had me in mind when he was writing it. I just saw so much of who I really am in this character and I just thought it was perfect. And I always pray that God’ll send me good stuff — every movie I’ve ever done has always come to me, I’ve never gone out lookin’ for one — and this one just came right through my office across my desk. Then when I found out that Queen Latifah was gonna be involved I thought, ‘Oh, absolutely,’ because I always thought we’d be good together — and I think we were.”

Despite her musical inclinations, Parton claims the hardest part of filming was working on the movie’s choreography — something she says she “felt a bit insecure” about.


“I’m not a natural dancer,” she says. “I’m not very rhythmic, so for me to learn how to do moves and choreograph things with other people, it’s very hard for me because I’m such an individual. But it was fun, it was challenging, so I think I learned that I could do it if I have to.”

That kind of motivation has led Parton to much success through the years, and she’s got no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

“I wake up every day with new dreams,” says the star, who admits to writing something every day (“I could never have a day without ideas,” she says.) She hopes to break into the children’s market with books and TV show, and she would like to work on a line of cosmetics. She also aspires to do more on-camera work and producing.

“It’s like I’d have to live a thousand years to do all the stuff I dream about. I just leave myself open, wait for God to give me that one thing that I feel the strongest about.”

Dolly on Miley

True to form, Parton didn’t hold back during our interview — especially when the conversation turned to her honorary goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. Parton, a former child performer herself, wants the public to take it easy on the ex-Disney queen.

“I haven’t talked to her lately, but I have a lot of faith in Miley. She’s trying to grow up. We were very cruel to her, just like we were with Shirley Temple — nobody wanted her to grow up. She’s got to grow up. She’s Miley Cyrus, not Hannah Montana. She’s a great writer, she’s a great singer, she’s a wonderful gal and I only wish her the best. I love her madly and I’m always there for her if she needs me. We’re country folks — we stick together.”

Latest From ...