(WJLA) - Resident "Nashville" hunk Chip Esten isn't singing his heart out to make this audience swoon - instead, he's hoping to make them proud.
"To have the show tour through my hometown, it's unbelievable!" he says.
The D.C. stop on the "Nashville" cast tour is more like a family reunion for both Esten and Chris Carmack. Esten hails from Virginia - he grew up in Alexandria and graduated from T.C. Williams High School before attending The College of William & Mary.
And sharing the stage and screen with him? Derwood native Chris Carmack, who still credits his drama teacher at Magruder High School with helping his chase his Hollywood dream:
"Mr. Deanna, Michael Deanna was in charge of the drama program and he was a very motivated guy who cared a lot about the program and a lot about the kids in the programThen Mr. Eisenhower taught the music program and I was in the jazz band. I think at the end of the day, they'd both be proud of me."
Both men get to satisfy their acting and singing aspirations each week on the hit ABC show, "Nashville." Esten leads the cast as Deacon Claiborne, and Carmack - a newcomer - plays a closeted gay musician navigating the Nashville waters. It's a character he says he doesn't see much in the real life music city:
"What it boils down to is there isn't an openly gay country singer that is topping the charts."
Now with his character cast in a reality show, it remains to be seen whether Carmack's character will keep his sexuality under wraps.
But here's the inside secret on how this week's "Salute to the Troops" episode came about: it turns out that Esten has a soft spot not only for his hometown, but for all of our hometown heroes as well!
"If you're going to do a show about country music, you need to do something about the involvement with the military, because there is a relationship there that is very strong," he says.
"Lo and behold, here comes a script where we are not only working with military, but we are going to be on the base at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky, and that's just as it should beit's a part of the show where we are talking about family, and what it means to sacrifice, so to be around those families who sacrifice so much, it really just took it to another level."
Esten adds that having First Lady Michelle Obama on board for this week's episode was just the icing on the cake. And when pressed about whether we will witness a Deacon and Rayna reunion before the end of this season, Esten said we'll just have to wait and see!