Jeff Lipsky/NBC
November 18, 2015 01:40 PM

Dolly Parton‘s Coat of Many Colors follows the singer’s poverty-stricken childhood in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, a story that will have you reaching for a box of tissues.

“The ups and downs in her family make it a very emotional role,” the film’s 8-year-old star, Alyvia Alyn Lind, who plays young Parton, tells PEOPLE.

As one of the executive producers, Parton herself was very hands on in the making of the film – especially when it came to casting her family members.

“She told me, ‘I loved your little eyes,” says Lind of auditioning in front of Parton.

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Jennifer Nettles plays Parton’s mom, Avie Lee Parton, and Ricky Schroder plays her dad, Robert Lee Parton.

“Dolly told me I reminded her so much of her father,” Schroder tells PEOPLE. “I was honored to play him. I wanted to get it right for Dolly because she’s just so kind and sweet and generous and she put so much trust in everybody to make this movie about her family.”

Nettles admits taking on the role of Parton’s parent was intimidating “because the relationship between a mother and daughter is beautiful and sacred.”

“I had an incredible time making this movie,” adds Nettles. “It’s such an incredible story.”

Gerald McRaney rounds out the cast as the Rev. Jake Owens. Coat of Many Colors airs Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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