Savannah Lee May can next be seen starring alongside Cheryl Ladd in A Cowgirl’s Song. The unique role of Hailey allows Savannah to utilize her talented musical background and contribute to an original soundtrack of uplifting and heartfelt country music.
We had the opportunity to chat with Savannah Lee May about what viewers can expect from A Cowgirl’s Song, working alongside Cheryl Ladd and Darci Lynne, her hopes for a second season of Julie and the Phantoms, and if releasing her own original music may be on the horizon.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Savannah Lee May below:
Congratulations on A Cowgirl’s Song! Can you talk a little about your role and what attracted you to the project?
I play Hailey, she’s a very strong-willed and really genuine cowgirl. She’s super into horses, songwriting, and country music; especially with her grandma being a country music legend. That inspired her to be this country music singer as well but there’s a lot to overcome. There’s a lot of stage fright and a lot of concerns about trying to live up to that kind of reputation that her family has and to live up to that standard.
So there’s a lot of fun to be able to play that on-screen and I felt such a strong connection to Hailey. When I got the audition scripts for it I really felt like I was Hailey. I grew up in Texas and my grandpa was a country singer. He’s already taught me how to play guitar and I’ve always loved singing. I was always a little nervous putting myself out there as a singer as well because I grew up dancing first but was always a little shyer when it comes to singing.
So I really felt like I had a connection to Hailey on a personal level. I remember doing the self-tape and there was one scene specifically, the opening monologue of the film, and I did it on camera and I remember I was filming it thinking “I just wanna play this part so bad ’cause I feel like I am Hailey.”
Did you have to do anything special to prepare for the role of Hailey in A Cowgirl’s Song?
I definitely started playing the guitar a lot more. I’ve been playing since I was about 11 years old but I took a break from it. I started getting back into it during COVID actually because we were all trapped inside. So I decided to take it back up and try and advance in guitar playing. When I found out about the audition, I put myself singing Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” on tape playing the guitar and they really liked it. I started practicing almost every single day for sometimes a couple of hours on end just to make sure I was really prepared for the film.
What’s interesting about this role is that you are able to utilize your background in musical theater. Is that what initially inspired you to pursue acting and entertainment as a career? When comparing acting and singing, is there one that you prefer over the other?
Those are great questions. What first got me into the entertainment industry, I started dancing when I was three and a half and I just loved it. I loved performing on stage and the stage was where I was the most comfortable. I was a really shy kid growing up so the stage was where I could actually let my personality shine through.
When I was about 11 I got into musical theater and that’s when I really started training my acting side and instruments and things like that. I think when I started musical theater I had always been interested in TV and film prior to that but I just always felt like “Oh, there’s no way I’ll ever have a shot at that.” I got super into musical theater and trying to go for Broadway and things like that and then the craziest thing, I actually got too tall for my age as far as being on Broadway goes. So then I thought I would try TV and film. I always wanted to do that. I’ve just been super fortunate.
As far as what I like more or what I prefer, I think it kinda depends. I mean acting is what I’m mostly geared towards. I’m acting first for sure. I’ve loved dance, that was my first passion but singing and playing instruments and being musical that’s something that means a lot to me too. They go hand in hand sometimes.
How was this experience working alongside Cheryl Ladd and the rest of the cast of A Cowgirl’s Song? Are there any fun memories that stand out for you?
Cheryl was such a pleasure from day one. Super strong and confident but so warm and welcoming as well.I think we really created this special bond off-camera that was able to play on screen so well. I mean these characters, they have such a close connection with country music and you know they are family, that’s her grandma and she has so much love for her. She believes in her. It was such a great time being able to really take that off-camera chemistry that we were building and put it into our characters.
There were a lot of sweet moments with Cheryl. There was one specifically that I really loved. We were filming our duet that we have in the film. For all of the songs in the film where I’m playing the guitar or even playing the piano, I played them live with the track playing so I’m actually playing instruments. Cheryl and I decided to just quickly run the song just the two of us and about halfway through the song I started noticing that people kind of stopped working and they were kind of just sitting there and listening. That was a really sweet and special moment. The whole cast is amazing. Oh my God Darci Lynne, I love her to death.
What can you tease about what viewers can expect from A Cowgirl’s Song? What are you most excited for them to see when the movie premieres?
I’m really excited for them to see a lot of things, it’s hard to pick just one. I’m excited for them to hear the music, we have a lot of original songs written by The Imaginaries. They did such a fantastic job with this music. I’m excited for people to hear me with a southern accent. I think it’s time to see the messages that we bring across in this film. The big message is that family is so important, family is always gonna be there for one another and I think that’s what a lot of people need right now. I think a lot of people wanna see something that’s heartfelt. I think that’s what the world needs right now.
You were also able to utilize your background in Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix. Can you talk a little about that experience?
Julie and the Phantoms was truly such an incredible experience. Anyone who has been following me and my career, working with Kenny Ortega has been my number one dream in this business, in my life, since I was about five or six. Getting to work with him on a show that was so special and a character that I would always wanna play, I always want to be the mean girl. It was just truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
It definitely prepared me for this project in a lot of ways. When I would learn the music for Julie and The Phantoms, I had a super short time period to learn it and then go in and record it. That really prepared me for this film because they sent all the songs that I needed to record about 48 hours before I would record them. So I was a little stressed as there’s quite a few songs. I think it was like seven of them. I had to learn pretty fast so that experience definitely got me ready for all of this.
If Julie and the Phantoms were to return for another season on Netflix, what would your hopes be for your character? What would you like to see?
It was so sad when they announced we weren’t getting a second season. I was super sad about it because I knew some of what was possibly gonna happen if there was a season two. I heard the ideas and I was very thrilled about it. What I would want for Carrie, I think I would have wanted to see her break down those walls and show the audience a bit more than what meets the eye. I would have loved to do a ballad in the show. Those are some of the ideas that I would have hoped for.
Do you have any interest in releasing any original music of your own?
I definitely do. I’ve been writing songs for a while now. I started writing a lot during Covid and I think I played around with a lot of different types of sounds and vibes and what kind of presence I would want to have as an artist. I’m not quite sure exactly what route I would want to take for a debut EP or album. I guess I would really like to create stuff that people can relate to, I think that’s the main thing. I would definitely love to, that’s definitely on my mind and in the track so we’ll see what happens.
Moving forward, what’s next for you? What can your fans look forward to from you next?
A lot of fans know I filmed the movie “Keep Moving”. It should be coming out soon I believe sometime this summer. I’m really excited for them to see that it’s a polar opposite character from Hailey in A Cowgirl’s Song. Lex, she’s super strong-minded and she’s a dancer and she’s really confident within a lot that she does. I’m really excited, it’s totally different. It’s way more of a drama so it’s not as heartfelt and family-oriented. I’m excited for people to see another character that I get to play that’s so different from the last.
Thank you so much to Savannah Lee May for taking the time to speak with us!
Don’t forget to check out A Cowgirl’s Song when it releases April 22nd!