Jaime King may be a Midwest girl at heart, but she’s loving being a Southern Belle at work.
“Playing a Southern woman is so interesting because a lot of them are very steeped in tradition, how they should be looking and acting and very genteel and very great and kind to everyone,” the “Hart of Dixie” star tells PopcornBiz. “But in a way, by doing that they cover what they really feel.”
King says it was the repressed duality of her character Lemon Breeland that hooked her on "Hart of Dixie," playing the blue-blooded daughter of Bluebell, Alabama’s primary country doctor whose sweet exterior cracks upon the arrival of New York-bred Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), whom Lemon fears may usurp her father’s patients and, worse, her own fiancé.
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“I think that Lemon is struggling trying to upkeep a perfect image of what she thinks that she should be,” says King. “[As Zoe], Rachel comes down and kind of rocks my world off kilter, and she's trying to deal with keeping her composure, what people want her to be and the conflict of what she really wants.”
The former fashion model says her experiences growing up in her own home town of Omaha, Nebraska, are not too far removed from Lemon’s Southern upbringing. “The first time I ever saw a skyscraper or an ocean, I was 14 years old,” she says, “so it's something that I really understand a lot. It's something to be celebrated and to enjoy.”
She especially enjoys celebrating small town manners, both on screen and off. “I think the most important manner is just general kindness, and it's these little things that sometimes when you go to big cities people forget, to just say "Good morning" or ‘How are you?’” King explains. “I say a lot of ‘Yes, ma'am,’ ‘Yes, sir,’ and that's how I was raised – I say it to everybody. And it's weird, because sometimes you get this cockeyed kind of look, but those are the manners that I was raised with, and I think that sometimes if we all just took a little moment to just be a little more thankful and more kind to people or smile at people that it can really change someone's day.
"And it doesn't mean that you want something or you are trying to take advantage of them," she adds. "It's just a general hospitality that is sometimes forgotten, I think, when you move into the hustle and bustle of a big city.”
"Hart of Dixie" airs Monday nights at 9 PM ET on CW