What You Don't Know About Connie Britton

Connie Britton is not a conventional housewife, but she has played a number of them on TV. In fact, Britton boasts a resume full of maternal roles that have reaped a mass following of loyal viewers. 

"Connie Britton has made a career out of playing women who other women want to be," United Airlines' Hemispheres magazine mused, alluding to some of the actor's most notable roles, like Tami Taylor, football coach Eric Taylor's wife on "Friday Night Lights," and "Nashville's" own country music superstar, Rayna Jaymes. Vogue noted that Britton is not "a victim of typecasting. ... In many ways, she's in a league of her own."

Earning primetime spots, however, did not happen overnight. In fact, it took nearly 10 years of smaller roles for Britton to become a leading lady, for which The New York Times Magazine dubbed her "a late bloomer." Securing stardom as a woman over 40 years old sets her apart from a common Hollywood path, and bypassing tradition is where this actor-producer hits her stride. There's more to know about the life and career of Connie Britton.

Connie Britton majored in Asian studies and speaks Chinese

The acting bug bit Connie Britton when she was attending high school in Lynchburg, Virginia — she had the starring role in a production of the musical, "Hello, Dolly!" Britton maintained her involvement with theater throughout college and opted for Asian studies as her major. "I remember learning about genocide in an international relations class and being cut to the quick," she told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "I didn't have much background in learning about international history so I was just this genuinely naive girl. I called my dad afterward to say, 'What do we do? How can we help?'"

Britton continued to grow from her small-town background as she learned Chinese and went to Beijing through a study abroad program. "It was a very substantial culture shock," the actor explained to Men's Journal. "It was the '80s, pre–Tiananmen Square. China was very closed, very communist, and there weren't a lot of people there who weren't Chinese. We were quite a sight — me and Kirsten Gillibrand [her roommate] and two other girlfriends made up a little posse, riding around on our bicycles." 

These formative years laid the foundation for Britton to become the worldly, open-minded, empathetic, and philanthropic woman she is known to be today, as backed by Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

After college, Connie Britton married, divorced, and focused on her career

A personal event that defined Connie Britton's college experience was meeting her husband, John Britton, but the couple divorced after five years in 1995, according to Redbook. "I was married at 24," Britton said. "When I look back, it seems young. I grew and changed a lot." The divorce was not easy on Britton, but the split itself was fairly straightforward. "Divorce is hard," the star explained, adding, "I think we probably fared better than most, because we were young and didn't have kids — but divorce is hard."

Britton got through the tough times by working to build her career, but like many aspiring actors, she needed a side hustle, so she taught aerobics. "I wore very high-legged leotards," she told E! on the 2013 Emmys red carpet. "Maybe a nice pink leotard with a purple bike short and very thick socks. I was hot," she quipped.

The '90s woman was so hot, in fact, that she landed her first major role in what ended up being a winner at the Sundance Film Festival. Britton was beyond grateful. "Shooting ['The Brothers McMullen'] was such a joy," she told Redbook. "... That big-break moment is visceral."

The role of a lifetime Connie Britton didn't get

Due to the success of 1995's "The Brothers McMullen," Connie Britton received the opportunity to audition for a movie she was certain would propel her to stardom. "I walked into my brand-new agent's office ... and I put the script down on his desk," she told The New York Times Magazine. "And I was like, 'I have two words for you: Jerry Maguire.'" Despite an amazing audition, months of high hopes, and a solid table read with the entire cast, Britton was narrowly beat out by another acting rookie at the time, Renée Zellweger.

"It was heartbreak," Britton told The New York Times Magazine of her profound disappointment. In order to move forward, she accepted roles opposite Michael J. Fox on "Spin City" and acted in a series of smaller parts on other shows, including "The West Wing" and "24." The actor told the Television Academy that landing her part in "Spin City" "was really exciting because it was Michael J. Fox, and it was just a great, great group of actors. And also, it was shooting in New York, and I had been, really, from the east coast." The star had worked in Los Angeles for some time, and she was excited to go back to the Big Apple.

Many years went by before her career truly took off, and Britton persisted through professional highs and lows.

Connie Britton lost both her mother and father within three years

In the early 2000s, Connie Britton was still working to launch her acting career, but the health of her family took a tragic turn. "My parents' being ill was also a big part of my 30s, unfortunately," Britton explained to Redbook in 2009. Her mother died of breast cancer, and her father died "of a rare blood disease." She recalled, "It was a really difficult time. I went through a lot of grief. ... There was so much that was not calm, so much disease."

Following her parents' deaths, Britton, who also happens to have a twin sister, became deliberate about leading a healthy lifestyle to prevent illnesses of her own. "It all got me really thinking about why we have cancer at what seems like almost epidemic proportions in our country, particularly breast cancer in women," Britton told WebMD. "It makes me really think about living a life that is more actively healthful. I personally believe that there are a lot of things that we're dealing with environmentally — in our food, in the things that we use everyday — that have chemical components that are not in our best interests, and I've started paying a lot more attention to that. I really think a lot about what I put into my body."

Personal heartbreak was followed by a professional breakthrough for Connie Britton

In the midst of enduring the painful losses of both her parents, Connie Britton played a football coach's wife opposite Billy Bob Thornton in a 2004 movie, based on a book, called "Friday Night Lights." "My role was cut to almost nothing," she explained in a Time interview. "They made my character mute." Therefore, when she was offered a similar role in a TV series based on the movie, Britton told Time she declined and dismissed the director, saying that she did not want to "spend year after year just being sort of a sideline character to a coach on a football show. Thank you anyway."

The director was not so easily deterred from his pursuit of Britton for the role. "He kept at me about it," the actor explained to Time, "and he was like, 'This is our chance...to give these women a voice.'" On the heels of her parents dying and 10 years following her "Jerry McGuire" letdown, Britton gave in. Upon accepting, she became invested in the stories of the women portrayed on the series. 

Though the TV show, beginning in 2006, was not an immediate ratings hit, devout fans eventually followed, and Britton could finally bask in her long-awaited fame. "'Friday Night Lights' turned Britton into something of an icon ... 'Jerry Maguire' may have been the best thing that never happened to her," The New York Times Magazine stated.

Connie Britton became a fan favorite, regardless of the role she played

After five years of "Friday Night Lights" success, finding an equally emblematic part felt daunting for Connie Britton. "I'm still just in denial and having an identity crisis," the actor told Chelsea Handler during a "Chelsea Lately" interview (via The New York Times Magazine). "'Cause who am I, if I'm not Tami Taylor?" Britton's next big role was certainly a departure from the football field, as she landed a single-season part on "American Horror Story." 

Given how different the two shows were, Britton successfully demonstrated her acting range, and she became a household favorite on-screen. "Connie Britton might just be the most likable woman in Hollywood. Calm, self-effacing, surprisingly silly, smart," Esquire raved. Hemispheres echoed these sentiments by praising her "American Horror Story" performance: "She even managed to make a character who was pregnant with the Antichrist...someone to emulate."

Britton was also chosen to play country music legend Rayna Jaymes on ABC's "Nashville," a drama that also showcased her singing abilities and cemented her celebrity status. According to The New York Times Magazine, the show's creator and executive producer, Callie Khouri, said "she could not think of a single other actress she would even consider for the role."

Her iconic, Hall of Fame-awarded hair

Besides her skills on-screen, Connie Britton became known for her beautiful looks and, even more specifically, her luxurious locks. When Britton was named one of the "100 Hottest Women of the 21st Century" by GQ, the outlet swooned over her renowned roles as a subtly sexy, southern-belle mother: "Let's just label Britton the first and only MILTHWY: Mom I'd Like to Hear Whisper Y'All."

An additional accolade is her induction into The Hair Fans Hall of Fame. Britton told Hemispheres that she had short hair for a while, and the mayhem about her mane "was totally out of left field." Southern Living said Britton's hair secrets are mostly natural, such as washing only a couple times a week and using products by Kerastase, Wen, and Privé. Some might call her tresses auburn or strawberry blonde, but Britton classifies her natural color as "mousey brown," per Southern Living.

The irony about this is not lost on Britton, who marvels at the idea of being known for a trait as trivial as her hair. In fact, she made a satirical commercial spoofing the topic for The Representation Project's #AskHerMore campaign, the purpose of which is to inspire "people to call out sexist reporting and suggest ways to re-focus on women's achievements."

Connie Britton is a feminist who refuses plastic surgery

Connie Britton isn't afraid to flex her feminist muscles. In her acting roles, Britton advocates for storylines and characters that mirror her personal ideals or that make statements against injustice. "It's important to me to play women who are empowered and who have a strong sense of self, but who are also connected to their sexuality," she told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "I want to continue on that path."

This belief is definitely on-brand with how she handled her "Nashville" character's initial image of "aging country-music star," which The New York Times Magazine reported was a tagline that littered the press at the start of the series. "Honestly, it was a problem for me," she told the magazine. "The minute I've been referenced in writing as aging, I'm done. I was furious about that." Britton fought hard to work with the creative team and successfully reclaim the narrative.

Additionally, Britton has vowed to remain authentic in her appearance by refusing plastic surgery and injectables, a move she hopes others will follow. "I don't think I'm going to be able to change Rome in a day, but to be one representation of a woman being incredibly viable and sexual while aging in a real way is important to me," the actor told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "If I try to make my face look younger, then what story am I telling? Does that mean I believe you can only be viable when you have a younger-looking face?"

This actor is also an international philanthropist

In addition to being a feminist, Connie Britton is also a humanitarian. Dating back to her college days, Britton's coursework revolved around international issues, but she also interned on the set of a play starring the late distinguished actor Ed Asner. "I watched him spend every spare second he had doing something charitable," she told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "Suddenly it all kind of clicked. Like I can do this thing I really love, which is acting, and maybe one day I'll be able to parlay it into this bigger thing the way he did."

Over the years, Britton came to devote as much time to charity as she had to show business. She has volunteered with and raised money for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the International Rescue Committee, both of which focus on assisting people around the world with issues concerning poverty, education, safety, and empowerment. "My career is very important to me; it enlivens me, it's the structure of my life, and I want to continue on that path," Britton explained to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "But going forward I also want to be involved to a greater degree with humanitarian issues. I believe as citizens of the world and as citizens of the United States that we have a responsibility to take care of each other. If we can, we should."

Connie Britton adopted her son from Africa

Committing to worthy causes has been a constant in Connie Britton's life, but by the time she approached 40 years old, she realized she was seeking a higher level of fulfillment. On "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Britton explained how she decided to adopt. "I knew that I wanted to be a mom," she began. "And in truth, both of my parents had passed away within three years, and suddenly I was like, 'Oh, no. My family is no more.' ... And I wasn't in a relationship that felt like it was going to be a marriage relationship, and so I was like, 'What am I waiting for? I know I want to adopt. I can do this.'"

The process, however, was easier said than done. To expedite a myriad of delays, Britton phoned her dear friend and former college roommate, who happens to be U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I went all mama bear to get things moving along," Britton explained to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "And I knew Kirsten was one of the three people in Congress who actually gives a s**t about international orphans. It was the only time in the whole process that I pulled some strings."

In 2011, after more than two years, Britton was reunited with nine-month-old Eyob (nicknamed Yoby) from Ethiopia. "It was such a wonderful moment of completion," she told People. "I thought I was going to collapse into a puddle of tears. I was just grinning from ear to ear."

The star has no trouble finding friends, but she wouldn't mind more dates

In addition to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Connie Britton keeps a star-studded circle of friends, including celebrities like Carla Gugino, Lauren Graham, and Sheryl Crow, to name a few. Despite women often being pitted against one another in Hollywood, and the drama that sometimes goes on behind the scenes, Britton indicated that she and her friends stay out of the fray. "I'm really lucky, because I have the most incredible female friendships and support system," she told Hemispheres.

Not only do Britton's buddies have her back when it comes to her career, they also are willing to play matchmaker for the single mom. On an episode of "Busy Tonight" (via Facebook), the actor gushed about her pal, Julia Roberts. "She's a real 'girl's girl,'" Britton told host Busy Philipps, explaining, "She tried to set me up with somebody. ... It hasn't worked out yet, but at least mama tried!"

When it comes to love, Connie Britton refuses to settle

Connie Britton was formerly linked to comedy writer and actor Jason Mantzoukas, but besides that, she has been seemingly single since her 1995 divorce from John Britton. "Choosing to be in a monogamous lifelong partnership is one of the greatest challenges of being a human being," she explained to Redbook. "I have a much less conventional view about it now. It's about the partnership and the choice to make a commitment."

For Britton, the door is always open for love, but motherhood and her career have been the main priorities. ​​"Every once in awhile, I'll be like, 'Oh yeah! I've been working and being a mom. Where's the man?!'" the actor told ABC News in a 2014 interview. "I've been able to balance that in as well. I'm not in a full-time relationship right now, but I am [dating]. That's part of the balancing act, and it's an important part!"

When fielding questions about the men she dates as potential additions to her son's life, Britton has remained the voice of reason and explained how she dates without an agenda. "I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on myself or on a relationship or on anything," she told HuffPost Live. "I made the choice to have this child, and I'm doing it on my own, and when and if the right man comes into my life, then my son will have a father figure."

Motherhood made Connie Britton a soccer mom and an anti-racist

Much to her former dismay, Connie Britton spends many Saturdays on the soccer field these days. "Yep, now I'm a soccer mom," she told Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "And honestly that was always my dread. Like I'd literally get heart palpitations seeing how my friends' weekends were consumed by their kids' sports schedules. But now I'm starting to understand the whole thing. He loves it, and it's fun seeing him improve."

Though Britton stands on the sidelines while watching her son play sports, she told Hemispheres that she does not lay low when protecting and empowering him as a young Black child in America. "I am a fierce mother of a Black son. Period. End of conversation. Beyond everything, don't f*** with my kid."

According to SheKnows, Britton wants Yoby to understand and appreciate his roots, so the two have traveled to Africa multiple times. "As a white person, I have to come to terms with my own responsibilities and my own accountability," she told Hemispheres. "When I see Black men and Black women and Black children being abused and destroyed by the system, and by this white systemic racism, I have zero tolerance. I'm enraged. That's a personal journey for me."

Connie Britton has a considerable net worth

With several projects debuting at once, Connie Britton has continued to hustle, work, and earn. In the summer of 2021 alone, the actor debuted a TV series and film with equal amounts of passion and purpose. As Britton shared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," the HBO satirical series, "White Lotus," has been a hit with viewers. "It's fascinating to think about what it is that hits the zeitgeist. You know, like, why are people so interested in this show? ... I think it just hits home in a way where it makes it okay for people to see themselves in a not-very-nice light." 

The film, "Joe Bell," has also resonated with audiences in a different way. "This is a movie about redemption," Britton told ET of her film, which also stars Mark Wahlberg. "...There are parents all over the country who are in this exact same position and need to know that it's OK to love their LGBTQ child."

Long before these projects, Britton spent years climbing the entertainment industry ladder to amass the solid portfolio she has today. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Britton's assets total approximately $12 million. As stated in Variety, she also owns homes in major cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; Brentwood, Tennessee; and New York City. Connie Britton may have started as a "late bloomer," but no matter where she goes or how much she is worth, the actor, mother, and activist blossoms boldly with beauty, skill, and strength.