Actor Nikki DeLoach has made many a dream come true throughout her life. But there is one dream that she is still waiting to come true...and that dream involves a certain Mr. Scotty McCreery.

“I still haven't gotten to talk with Scotty,” she says with a laugh during an interview with Taste of Country mere days before the Nov. 20 premiere of the Hallmark movie Five More Minutes, a movie in which DeLoach stars that were inspired by McCreery’s No. 1 hit “Five More Minutes.”

“So if you talk to him, tell him I would love to speak to him!”

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The Georgia native feels a very real connection to the country singer from North Carolina, as they both have gone through the intense grief that comes with intense love.

“(McCreery) wrote this song about his grandfather who passed away, and it's not an accident that a couple of days after my own dad passed, I ended up reading this script,” remembers DeLoach, who herself grew up on country music from artists including George Strait and Willie Nelson. “The night before his funeral, I couldn't sleep. And I decided to just read the script. And through the whole script, there were these little signs that spoke to me. I couldn't help but think that my dad in some way had brought this story to me.”

Playing the role of Clara, DeLoach says that the filming of Five More Minutes ended up being a rather healing experience in the end, with the movie telling the story of a woman "whose Christmas wish is answered in unexpected ways when her late grandfather’s journal turns up and reveals an untold romance."

“It was the first time that I was actually really nervous doing a Hallmark movie because I didn't know what kind of toll it would take on me emotionally,” says DeLoach, whose country music playlist is filled with the music of artists including Jason Isbell and Charlie Crockett. “But in a way, I feel like this song brought healing to (McCreery) and it did the same for me.”

And now, the movie is poised to help countless others.

“I’m really proud of Hallmark because a lot of times, they try to stay away from sadness because they want people to just feel happy, and I completely understand that,” says DeLoach, who also stars in the upcoming Hallmark movie Christmas for Keeps. “But over the years, I think we’ve learned that people want to feel happy, but they also want to feel seen and understood, especially when it comes to dealing with their own pain. What Hallmark does is help people navigate loss and grief…with hope.”

It's what DeLoach herself will be doing on premiere night, as she plans to be in Georgia with her family to remember her late father on his birthday.

“It’s just another sign that my dad…and God had His hand all over this.”

Top Country Songs of 2021, Ranked

You'll find much more than just the Top 10 Country Songs of 2021 on this list. Enjoy the 21 best country songs of the year, based on Taste of Country staff and country music fan opinion, plus commercial data (sales, streaming, airplay).

To be considered, the song must have been released in 2021 or have actively charted for a portion of the year (see "Wine, Beer, Whiskey"). New artists including Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet and Morgan Wade crack the top songs list, while hitmakers including Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs make the Top 10.

Let us know your favorite song of 2021 on Twitter, or email us at staff@tasteofcountry.com.

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