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Detroit Lakes High School sophomore signs with Hollywood agency – Detroit Lakes Tribune


—Lucile Donnelly just signed her first contract with a Hollywood agency and received an exclusive invitation to



iPop is an organization that hosts a premiere event bi-annually for emerging talent in the entertainment industry. The gathering provides talent with connections to casting directors and music industry professionals. Hundreds of known musicians and actors have been discovered at iPop, including Josh Duhamel and Ariana Grande.

To get to Hollywood this December for the invitation-only event, Donnelly needs to fundraise for a plane ticket, hotel expenses and meals. Her mom, Timmie Hansen, explained that when she was younger and was invited to the Junior Olympics, that she had to fundraise. The experience instilled in her a value of money, work ethic and understanding that effort is behind success.

Donnelly decided her fundraising efforts would include hard work and sweet treats. She wants to help people with odd jobs, like fall clean up, and is selling homemade lollipops. The lollipops are available at

Mabel’s Mercantile

in Audubon and will be for sale at

Gottenborg Apple Orchard’s Apple Fest

on Saturday, Sept. 9. The orchard is located at the end of Audubon Lake Road. Donnelly can be contacted by calling (303) 261-2613.

Donnelly, may be better known in the lakes area as Lillie Hansen, a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School. The daughter of Audubon residents Rick and Timmie Hansen chose her stage name for a reason. Lucile is her middle name and her mother’s middle name. Donnelly was picked to honor her great grandparents.

Donnelly’s adventures to Hollywood began shortly after she started private vocal lessons at

Merry Melody Music Academy

in Lake Park in February 2023. Through the school, her mom learned talent scout auditions were being held online.

“She signed me up,” Donnelly said. “I went into the auditions saying, if I don’t get it, that’s fine; if I do, great.”

lillie's lollis.jpg

Lucile Donnelly (Lillie Hansen) is fundraising to purchase a plane ticket to Hollywood to attend an invite-only talent scouting event. She is selling homemade lollipops and open to helping locals with chores.<br/>

Contributed / Timmie Hansen

The tryout had about 200 other singers and/or actors. She explained the event included eight hours of classes that were essentially a “crash course in the industry.” Throughout the day, performers were cut. By the end, Donnelly was one of 12 that remained. She was invited to perform at a showcase where management agencies sent representatives to consider signing the talent. The director of iPop also attended. After the showcase, Donnelly was invited to the iPop event and was approached by Who Management.

“They (Who Management) asked for an interview where they provided me with a short commercial (to read),” she said, noting the first meeting led to a second one, which was followed by a contract.

Donnelly’s parents asked the owner of Merry Melody Music Academy, Leah Knight, for advice on the contract.

“She had her lawyer look it over,” Timmie said, noting the contract is non-exclusive, which allows her daughter to sign with an agency in another state, or work on a local project without breaking the contract. “It’s been a wild ride. We keep thinking, OK, if this is where the ride ends, we had a blast. But, then it keeps going.”

Timmie added she was also advised to not expect to pay for tryouts, but that head shots were an expected expense.

Music academy fed Donnelly’s love for singing

While taking chances and chasing dreams to Hollywood is a new experience for Donnelly, she has been singing since childhood.

“When I was little, maybe six or seven, my favorite song was

‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ by Miranda Lambert

,” she recalled.

She and her grandparents were invited to perform at a church event on Valentine’s Day. Her grandparents played guitar, while she sang a song about a break-up that left a messy trail, and a mother’s preference for happy facades. While the song wasn’t a traditional Valentine’s Day hit, it fanned the flames for Donnelly to continue her pursuit of singing.

“I love 50s music,” she said. “That is my jam; I love Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. They are so cool in my mind. The music feels real and authentic.”

Donnelly found support from her parents to improve her singing ability. She was signed up to take private vocal lessons with Merry Melody Music Academy, as well as lessons with piano and stage make-up, which includes the sub-categories of gore and fantasy.

“When you’re beginning, not everyone will have staff for make-up,” the teacher said. “So having those skills make you more desirable.”

Knight hasn’t always been a teacher. Before opening the music academy in 2020, she collected degrees in vocal and opera performance and then performed in operas and musical theater around the world. In addition to teaching in her fields of expertise, Knight has brought other musicians to the academy to teach a variety of instruments. Currently, the business has 15 teachers that serve about 200 families.

“The best way to be successful in show business is to have a good work ethic,” Knight said. “She (Donnelly) is a hard worker, and she is not afraid to try new things. She is very teachable.”

Knight also applauded her student’s ability to connect with her audience when singing through a genuine performance.

“During the (Northwest) Water Carnival this year, we had a float, and she sang on it,” Knight said. “It was her first time on a parade float, and she connected with people along the way; some were dancing or singing. After the parade, she had so much fun that wanted to go a second time.”

Knight said seeing her students enjoy and share what they learn, is one of the many joys of being a teacher.

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