Wood County native appears in new TNT series

NASHVILLE – Cassie (Piersol) Chapman, a self-professed country girl from Blue Front Hollow Road in Wood County, is one of the stars in the new television series “Private Lives of Nashville Wives,” set to premiere at 10 p.m. Monday on TNT.

How did Chapman go from showing horses, winning ribbons at the Wood County 4-H Fair and living on a farm in rural Wood County to starring in a TV docudrama depicting the glamorous celebrity life in Nashville, the country music capital of the world?

Before answering that question, first some information about the TV show.

“Set in and around the capital of the high-stakes country music business, ‘Private Lives of Nashville Wives’ will follow a group of accomplished, opinionated and driven women as they deal with professional challenges, family issues and social relationships,” according to the TNT website.

The first episode is titled Bright Lights, Big City. “Against the backdrop of The Music City, six of Nashville’s most prominent women are searching for their place in Southern society. The premiere episode introduces viewers to the wives during the most important week of the year in country music, the CMA Music Festival,” TNT says.

Chapman, 34, a 1998 graduate of Parkersburg High School, said she has seen only the first of eight unscripted episodes of the show’s inaugural season.

“Private Lives of Nashville Wives” provides a behind-the-scenes look at the music business in Nashville, Chapman said.

The successful husbands of these wives appear in the series. Chapman is married to Christian country music legend Gary Chapman.

As a singer-songwriter, Gary Chapman has received eight gospel music Dove Awards and several Grammy nominations. From 1996-99, he was the host of the TV show “Prime Time Country” on TNN.

At 23 years younger than Gary, Cassie is determined to prove that their relationship is real and that they fell in love for all of the right reasons, according to the TNT website.

One of the story lines involves the “big journey” Cassie and Gary go through when adopting a baby girl, Cassie said.

Other Nashville wives besides Chapman on the show are Jenny Terrell, Erika Page White, Sarah Davidson, Ana Margarita Fernandez and Betty Malo.

Although the women do have conflicts in the series, there is none of the hair pulling and dumping drinks on cast members that occurs in other big city “real housewives” TV shows, Chapman said.

“Private Lives of Nashville Wives” focuses more on the family lives of the Nashville women than the other “real housewives” shows do, Chapman said.

“What separates us from (other shows) is the husbands are involved a lot more,” Chapman said. “I like the family dynamic.”

Chapman said she enjoyed working with the other Nashville wives.

Evolution Media, the same producers of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” also produced “Private Lives of Nashville Wives,” Chapman said.

Chapman said she turned down the first three requests from three people asking her to audition for the show. After one person asked a fourth time, Chapman “begrudgingly” agreed to audition.

There were many auditions and the doors kept opening, she said.

“Gary and I prayed that if this was God’s will that we would keep going. If it wasn’t His will, the door would close,” she said.

“The final audition was filming the sizzle reel (a short demo film). Shortly after that, which felt like an eternity, we got the call that I was cast. It was a very long process,” Chapman wrote in an email.

Chapman called the evolution of her participation in the television show “surreal.”

Her photograph is appearing on billboards in Nashville, Times Square in New York City and Los Angeles (on buses also).

As a member of Stillwell 4-H Club in Wood County, Chapman received grand champion awards in showing horses and hogs. She participated in hunter jumper horse shows.

Chapman said she gave up showing horses for cheerleading when she entered Hamilton Junior High School. She continued her cheerleading, along with singing in the choir, at Parkersburg High School.

Chapman was a member of the cheerleading squad at Morehead State University in Kentucky that won two national titles, transferred to the University of Louisville, where she cheered, and then majored in electronic media and journalism at the University of Tennessee.

She started working for Hooters as a waitress and became a shift supervisor for the restaurant chain. In 2001, Chapman started working as a model, landing a magazine cover and appearing in ads, while also being featured on playing cards, calendars and billboards, according to the TNT website.

Chapman said she was part of a Hooters calendar shoot in the Bahamas in 2007 when she met Gary Chapman, who was working with a production team there. The two married in 2008 and Cassie moved from Louisville to Nashville, where Gary lived.

Cassie worked at DAN Talent Group in modeling and acting while living in Nashville.

In 2010, Gary and Cassie began a project called “A Hymn a Week” to honor the musical heritage left to Gary by his parents, Terry and Mary, who were smalltown pastors.

Last November, Gary released his first album in 10 years titled “The Truth.” Gary and Cassie sing together on one song and the album features appearances by Alison Krauss, Tanya Tucker, John Rich, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Gary’s daughter Sarah.

Gary said his music “blurs the line” between Christian and country music.

Chapman’s father, Jerry Piersol, lives in Mineral Wells, while her mother Cindy Nokes, grandmother Gladys Nokes and brother Shane Piersol all live in Nashville.

Chapman said she would like to buy the family farm at Blue Front Hollow Road someday and move back to Wood County.

“I love Parkersburg and like being home,” she said.

You can take the girl out of the country but not the country out of the girl, Chapman said.