Three-time Grammy Award winner Reba McEntire, 67, just wrapped up a fall concert tour, so you’d think she’d be ready to relax and take a break. But you’d be wrong. She’s busy playing Sunny Barnes, the feisty matriarch on ABC’s drama Big Sky, and is producing and starring in an upcoming Lifetime movie, The Hammer, about a traveling circuit judge. She’s also opening Reba's Place, a restaurant, bar and live music venue in southern Oklahoma, and is promoting her album, The Ultimate Christmas Collection, which features tried-and-true favorites plus the song “I Needed Christmas” from her 2021 Lifetime movie Christmas In Tune. Best of all? She’s still having fun.
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?
We had a lot of traditions. Then, when I got divorced, I started making new ones. So every year, everything’s been different, doing something different. [Actor] Rex Linn and I have been together for three years. And so we just think up new things to do to make it interesting.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received or given?
Well, we kind of outdid ourselves a couple of Christmases ago. Rex gave me an upright piano that was about a hundred years old, and I gave him a brand new set of drums, because he’s a drummer. I just love to play the piano. I’m not that good, but I like to tinker around on it. I think that was high on the list.
Would you consider making another holiday movie?
Oh, they were so much fun. Absolutely. One thing I would ask is if we could shoot it around Christmas time. Because we shot Christmas in Tune in the summer, and we were wearing coats and acting like we’re freezing, and everybody was sweating up a storm.
Your Big Sky character, Sunny, has a bit of a dark side. What is the best part of playing a villain?
Well, the best part about playing a villain is that you also get to play a good person. Sunny isn’t a bad person. She’s just very overly protective of her family. She’s like a mama bear. When somebody gets in between her and her cubs, she turns into a different animal. She just gets a little dark.
She runs a glamping [glamorous camping] resort in the show. What’s your favorite style of vacation?
Oh, anything — Holiday Inn up to a five-star [hotel]. I’ve never been camping in my life. So for me to be running a glamping experience is pretty funny. But [these are] the fanciest tents you’ve ever seen in your life. But I love to travel.
With your busy schedule, how do you keep your energy level so high?
Well, thank God, I've got a wonderful team that helps me stay scheduled and helps me with all these projects. And I get lots of sleep. I eat right, exercise, stretch a lot. At my age, it’s very important to stretch and keep the muscles and joints moving, hydrate and have fun. Before every [Big Sky] scene, Rex looks over and says, “Have fun.” And it's a fun time.
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