Photo Diary: A Day on the Nashville Set

What It's Really Like Behind the Scenes

This past February, Southwest Airlines partnered with CMT to offer Nashville fans the chance of a lifetime: an all-expenses paid trip to Nashville and a walk-on role on the show. Over 60,000 people entered, and one very lucky winner was chosen.

In April, our winner Ronnie Das flew from San Diego to Nashville for an unforgettable weekend, and we tagged along to see all the fun he had!

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CMT: What was your reaction when you got the call that you won the contest?

Ronnie: I honestly had zero hope I would win. I’d say it made my day, but really it made my week and month. I was absolutely ecstatic to win such an amazing trip and couldn’t wait to visit Nashville.

Tell us about your day on set.

In one word, amazing. I cheated a bit and got two days on set because I needed to go in for a fitting on the sound stage before we shot my scene the next day on location. The day of the fitting I got to meet Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott) before he filmed a scene as well as watch Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes) and Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor) work on set. Sam is very friendly, extremely cordial and very hardworking.

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It was a bit of a shock knowing his character Gunnar and then hearing the real-life Sam Palladio’s English accent. It honestly took my brain a few seconds to adjust. And Hayden is such a professional actress, she came in to do a scene and knocked it out. So my unofficial day was awesome.

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Now my official day on set was first-class. The hospitality of the crew was immediate, and I’ve never felt so much like a star.

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I got to set and they did last-minute touches on my costume, makeup and hair. I really felt like some kind of royalty.

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Then we took a shuttle to go on location, which was beautiful and historic. Even the bathroom of this location has won awards. I’m not sure who the unlucky person is that rates bathrooms, but apparently they really liked this one and it was actually in a few movies.

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On set I was about 10 feet away from Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne). If I wasn’t a fan of the show before this, the class, humility and acting skills of Mr. Esten would definitely make me a fan. We filmed for 14 hours, and Mr. Esten was playful with the crew and made really good jokes to keep the entire day light and fun.

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What else did you do while you were in Nashville?

Nashville is truly Music City. The bars on Broadway have bands all the time, and some bars even had multiple levels so you can listen to different music on each floor. My favorite bar was Nudie’s Honky Tonk because of the great cover bands and the friendly environment. Also, no trip to the south would be complete without barbecue, so we went to Martin’s Bar-B-Que and it was so delicious. I even looked into shipping my leftovers back to California so I could heat it up when I got back. We also went to the Bluebird CafĂ©! Not only did I get to enjoy an evening of amazing music, but earlier that day I got to see the exact replica on the Nashville sound stage.

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Finally, we snuck into Bridgestone Arena to watch the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was an epic game that ended in overtime and was a truly memorable experience. The trip was so much fun, it still feels absolutely unbelievable, and I am definitely looking forward to the new season of Nashville!

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Don’t miss the mid-season premiere of Nashville June 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. For all the latest news and information, head over to the official Nashville Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using #NashvilleCMT.

Writer and social-ite for CMT, lover of all things Nashville, and firm believer that Ross and Rachel were not on a break.