Interview: Hart of Dixie's Claudia Lee on Playing Magnolia & Working with Rachel Bilson.
In the midst of all of the southern charm and small-town hijinks, Hart of Dixie's Magnolia Breeland has transformed before our eyes from a drunken, teenage debutante with attitude to a complex, ambitious, family-loving 'belle... with attitude, of course.
But, she didn't do it all on her own. Meet actress and singer Claudia Lee, the 15-year-old fireball who has taken Lemon's Little Sister and given her a life of her own. We got a chance to talk to Claudia about Magnolia, bringing some of her own musical talent to the show (Claudia recently released a full-length country album entitled Here Right Now,) and how she'd fare against her character in the ultimate test for survival.
On Magnolia, Music, and Maturity
CharacterGrades: On Hart of Dixie, you play Magnolia Breeland, Lemon's little sister. From what we've seen, she's pretty much the ultimate teenage brat: she's got Mommy Issues, but she's also got a heart of gold. How would you describe Magnolia?
Claudia Lee: I would describe Magnolia as the type of girl that is… she is a troublemaker, she's definitely a troublemaker. She butts heads with her sister, but she also is really just trying to find herself as a teenager. She wants to be looked upon as this mature sort of young adult, but she still goes back to those naïve moments of just being a 14 year-old-girl. I would also say that being in such a, I wouldn't say "high class family”, but her family is kind of looked upon in a different way in Bluebell, so she has that on her back all the time. So, when she has her little "woopsie” moments, she has to worry about her family name as well. So that's Magnolia in my opinion. [Laughs]
CG: A large part of what we've seen of Magnolia's character so far has been based on her relationship with Lemon and how being practically raised by your older sister can really affect a girl. Do you have any siblings that you could kind of relate to this sometimes strained, but ultimately unconditional bond, or was it all something a bit new for you to work with?
CL: Well, I actually have a brother, who is my only sibling. He's soon to be 22. April 6th, actually, so very soon. But yeah, we have a great bond, we really have a great bond, and he always watches over me. And, in my opinion, always being the younger sister of an older brother, they're always going to view you as that younger sister. We have a great bond, a great relationship, so it was really easy to bring that bond into Magnolia, but it was also difficult at the same time because Magnolia and Lemon have this great, loving bond, but then again Magnolia is trying to be her own self and not be a little "Mini-Me” Lemon, in a sense… even though she is in a way [laughs].
CG: As the show's progressed, you've been able to bring little bits of Claudia into Magnolia. For example, you've recently released an album, Here Right Now, and now Magnolia's getting in on the singing action. Has that been a challenge?
CL: It really hasn't been a challenge. I think in every role that an actor takes on they always have to bring in a bit of theirselves, because that's what makes every character unique. I think it's something very exciting to explore with Magnolia, and it's just been a blast, but nothing difficult. But, really so much fun, and I just enjoy it a lot. That's the gift of being an actress – bringing yourself into a character and making it your own.
CG: Can we expect to see any other Claudia traits start to peek through? Is Magnolia secretly learning Polish?
CL: I don't think Magnolia is going to be learning Polish any time soon, no! But yeah, there's a lot of things that people are going to be able to see - I think a little bit of her edginess, in a sense, I think that they already see a little bit of that. I'm very artistic, and I think people have gotten to see that with Magnolia starting her kind of singing career. And I think just my mature demeanor that I have that I'm really bringing into Magnolia - just having that sort of struggle that she has of being a teenager but also wanting to be a young adult - that's what I definitely bring to her as well.