by Kristen Manieri
Aubrey Peeples lands a role on the hit ABC-TV show.
We can just see it now: Camera lights flashing as Aubrey Peeples makes her way down a red carpet, returning a dazzling smile to the photographers while they shout her name. Okay, she’s not quite there… yet. But with film credits alongside Nicolas Cage and a new, recurring role on the hit ABC show Nashville, the 19-year-old actress from Lake Mary is well on her way to becoming the next Hollywood “it girl.”
However, you can’t detect even a hint of self-importance as Aubrey sits at a Lake Mary Panera, sipping coffee and nibbling a pastry while she’s being interviewed by Lake Mary Life. Poised and grounded, Aubrey is honest and frank about life in Hollywood, but she’s not jaded.
“It’s a business that is centered around the way you look,” Aubrey says. “And it’s a stressful business where you can find yourself working very long hours or being called to a set at the very last minute. It’s as if you’re always in your fight-or-flight nervous system. You could just finish working a 20-hour day, and you’re suddenly booked for something at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. I think all of these factors make it stressful, and it can wear on your body physically. But I enjoy those things. “I can sleep when I’m dead,” Aubrey adds with a grin.
Aubrey can pinpoint the exact moment when the acting bug bit her. “My parents took me to a musical at what was then the Civic Theatre. I was three years old, and I was on the edge of my seat.” says Aubrey, who soon began working with Orlando Repertory Theatre. “I did my first play when I was five. I was a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
What followed were several years with the “Rep,” doing musical theater and dance camps, then participating in the Rep’s professional season shows.
“I grew up with the Rep,” Aubrey says. “I learned so much there. They were like family to me.”
Add up her many shows with the Rep, her time spent doing commercial work, and the various trips she and her family took to New York and Los Angeles for auditions and acting gigs, and Aubrey’s absentee days from Lake Mary Preparatory School quickly began to pile up.
“There was one year when I missed 70 days of school,” says Aubrey, whose credits include stints on Grey’s Anatomy, Burn Notice, and The Good Mother. “But I’m a really hard worker, and school has always been very important to me. I worked hard when I wasn’t at school to keep up.”
That she represented Lake Mary Prep’s 2012 graduating class as valedictorian is a testament to Aubrey’s efforts. Getting an acceptance letter to Harvard is even more evidence that there’s so much more to Aubrey Peeples than good looks and charm.
Aubrey was all set to go to Harvard not once, but twice. Each time her plans were thwarted, most recently with the offer to join the cast of Nashville.
“I had deferred Harvard the first time to work in L.A., and a year later I was trying to decide whether to defer again or go,” says Aubrey. She chose Harvard, but while Aubrey was busy packing up her L.A. apartment with her mom, the news hit that she had landed the role on Nashville. “I literally had to rearrange my whole life and get on a plane to move to Nashville [where the show is filmed on location].”
Harvard is once again on hold. But as many former young actresses like Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, and Mira Sorvino (all Harvard graduates) know, it’s difficult to pass up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like the one that presented itself to Aubrey.
On Nashville, Aubrey plays Layla Grant, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter trying to make it in Nashville’s competitive music scene. The role, which is contracted for at least 7 episodes of the show’s current season, which began September 25, has given Aubrey the opportunity to show off her musical skills.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the music business. I have been classically trained vocally for the last 10 years, and I play piano and guitar. I also write a lot of my own music,” says Aubrey, who’s currently working with Taylor Swift’s producer, Nathan Chapman, to create the songs for her role. “Up until now, I’ve never had the opportunity to delve into that side of things. So this show is bridging that gap for me, especially since it is shot in Nashville. We’re working with some of the best producers in the industry.”
Aubrey is by no means resting on her laurels and is the first to admit that she has no idea what will come next.
“This is a business where you’re being rejected hundreds of times more than you’re accepted,” says Aubrey, who just wrapped a separate film project titled Tokarev, in which she plays Nicolas Cage’s daughter. “I’ve had to develop a tough skin. I can’t predict the future, but I’m doing what I want. This has been a dream come true for me. I want to continue to do Nashville, do more films, and I would love to work on an album.”
And if all that doesn’t work out, there’s always Harvard. Not a bad consolation prize for this Lake Mary star.