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MJ commissioner lands recurring role on 'Nashville'

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Brian Abston, a regular extra on the television show Nashville, acts the part of an aggressive paparazzi.
Local commissioner Brian Abston on the set of the television show Nashville, filmed downtown, in front of Highway 65, character Rayna Jaymes' music enterprise. Submitted

City commissioner's caught the acting bug

A local politician's fun gig acting bit parts in the popular ABC hit show "Nashville" has morphed into a recurring role there, and now there's a role in an upcoming comedy series and even a part in a movie.

And, no, it's not yet gone to District 1 City Commissioner Brian Abston's head, and he doesn't have a Hollywood swagger yet.

"Well, my original role's description was 'older and distinguished,' not 'handsome and dynamic,'" he said with a laugh.

Abston, 52, said he loves politics and acting and the show Nashville has both, which is a dream "hobby" for a man who retired after 31 years in the software business, but is "too young and not rich enough to totally retire."

On March 16, viewers will be able to see Abston on Nashville's first episode in the second half of the season. His role is a paparazzi going after hotshot singer and executive Rayna Jaymes (played by Connie Britton). A pushy, aggressive paparazzi may not be a huge stretch for Abston, who laughed and said "anybody who knows me knows I'm a bulldog when it comes to trying to get things done in my district."

It all started June 2015 when on a whim Abston auditioned to be an extra on Nashville. He was one of many hopefuls and when he did get a call to come back, he had a previous work commitment and had to decline.

Jump ahead and they "surprisingly" called him back, and he ended up one of 250 extras for a shoot at the Grand Ole Opry.

His big break (he laughs at this term) came when he received another call a bit later from a Nashville casting agent.

"I guess there wasn't an abundance of ugly, short guys over 50 years old and I got a five-day gig cast as a backstage VIP to a couple of the stars," he said.

Abston is now familiar with some of the other regular bit part actors and thoroughly enjoys the long shooting hours, even if he's just on screen for a few minutes. He's also enjoyed getting to meet personally each and every cast member of the show, except for one.

His latest role is a radio executive at Jayme's Highway 65 enterprise. And, just Wednesday he got a call and was told the director wants him to come back and play the radio executive again.

"It's pretty exciting," he said. "I'm having such a good time with it. I feel fortunate they keep calling me back. I played background extras, and now it seems to be a specific role. I guess you could call it another level."

Abston said he's going to keep plugging along and having fun until he gets a true speaking role.

"No, I don't have illusions of becoming a famous actor!" he said. "But this is just fun."

The fun has accelerated to outside the "Nashville" set with a role on Billy Ray Cyrus's upcoming comedy "Still the King" on CMT.

"The show is just hilarious," he said. "I drove all the way to Greenbrier in the snow to shoot it. It was for the season finale as a parishioner."

The first season has already been filmed and it will begin airing this spring.

His latest job is in a mini-drama movie where he will play a priest. It's called "Negotiate."

"I know, my pastor Jacob sorta got a kick out of that one," Abston said.

"It's just so amazing the filming that is taking place in our city Nashville," he said. "I'm so glad because I'll never move to California. This place is buzzing in the film industry. It's very cool to say little 'ole me has been in a drama, sitcom and movie."

You don't have to be young and blonde, or tall and handsome to land a role (of any kind) in a movie as an extra, according to this budding actor.

"The only thing I can say is you never know what they are looking for," Abston said. "Sometimes they want just normal people.

Talk about "normal," and back to Nashville, Abston's insider knowledge says the most normal and the nicest guy is Charles Esten who plays one of the biggest roles on the show in Deacon Claybourne.

"He is the coolest guy," Abston noted. "He makes an effort to meet all of us and shake hands and things like that. He's really appreciated."

Of course, he thinks Britton is "absolutely beautiful and so nice."

Abston's daughter has expressed interest in somehow being on a movie or television set.

"I told her if she kept her grades up, I'll see what I can do," laughed Abston. And wife Gigi isn't at all jealous her husband is hobnobbing with some of television's most beautiful women.

"My wife loves it," he said. "I get so excited about it, she sees that and then gets excited for me. I've got the most awesome wife in the world. She's so supportive."

It seems Abston's on the radar now for bit parts. He keeps an eye on his phone to hear about what might be offered next.

"I guess I've got the bug," he said.

Also, buzz on the set, Abston revealed is "Nashville" has been signed on for yet another season.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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Tags: 
acting, Brian Abston, Mt. Juliet, Mt. Juliet City Commission, Nashville, television
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