It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of Annie Banks now, but according to Williams-Paisley, she might not have even auditioned for the role if it weren't for her mother, Linda.
"She wanted the best for me. She pushed me in great ways," Williams-Paisley shares. "I always say she's that voice in my head that still tells me to go for it and do things and have adventures and have a party!"
Today, Linda's voice has been muted from dementia. Her illness has rendered her incapable of speaking or writing and sometimes causes her to be violent. Eventually, Williams-Paisley had to make the difficult decision to put her in a home.
"My mom was still aware enough to know she's been left, and that was really horrible," she says. "I think in many ways I've said goodbye to the old mom. My brother said, 'It's death by paper cut.' Just feels like small little [cuts]. There's another part of her gone, you know?"
Williams-Paisley addresses the painful struggle -- and the solace she's found in her husband, country singer Brad Paisley -- in her book, Where the Light Gets In.
"He was there on the really hard days when I just didn't know what to do -- 'Just hold me and let me cry,' you know?" she says. "Anytime you go through hard times and challenges in life and you survive, it strengthens your relationships, and that's what happened with us."