Charm City Kings' Lil Dee Dee Talks Having a Career as a Teenager and Inspiring his Generation
Maybe you've seen him dancing in videos with Chris Brown or Usher. Maybe you've seen him recently in the movie Charm City Kings or in Tyler Perry's If Loving You is Wrong. One thing is for certain, you will see this face in more projects in the near future. At just 16 years old, Donielle Hansley, or Lil Dee Dee as most people know him, is a dancer, actor and producer who is showing no signs of slowing down his career. Coming from a family full of creatives, it was natural for Donielle to get the bug and become something great.
When did you get to a place where you realized being in the entertainment industry and being a
creative was something that you wanted to do?
It started off with dance when I was about three years old and then acting came into play around seven or eight years old. I come from a family of entertainers, so when I was about three or four, I came to my mom and my dad saying "this is what I want to do." They said, "If you're going to give it your all then we're going to support it." I wasn't really too sure about acting because dancing, performing and entertaining was just what we did, but acting was totally different. It was something new and at seven or eight years old, I had to come out of my comfort zone and do something that I don't know if I'm good at or not. I did an audition for a Tyler Perry role, ended up getting the job and it was history from there. Started off with Tyler Perry's If Loving You is Wrong, then Containment on Netflix then The Amazing World of Gumball on The Cartoon Network and Terror Lake Drive which is out now. So at the top of 2020, I decided that I want to dabble in something different so I joined my 18-year-old sister, who is an artist in the studio and boom. I found a new passion for producing.
You come from a family of entertainers and you have a mother and a father that helped to nourish you and nurture your craft. How do you feel like that support from them helped you in
who you are becoming?
My mom is my manager and she has managed me forever. She's always taking the calls and the meetings. My father is more so the mental. He's always trying to keep me right by talking to me, listening to me and hearing me out. So they kind of level it out without even knowing it. From them, I feel like I've learned that I've always been a leader. I've never really been the type to really follow but I've always been the independent one. I feel like a lot of that reason is because of them. They ventured out and they came to Atlanta and started a new life. They continue to support me and let me be creative. They sat down with me and they talked to me about what other people in the industry may or may not be doing wrong. I learned from that and I feel like that's something that I'm going to take with me forever. I could be the quietest person in the room, but I'm watching everybody's moves. A lot of the stuff I get from my father.
In Charm City Kings, how did the role of Lamont come about for you?
Shout out to my team and my agents who sent it over to me. I auditioned for the role and they really liked me. Then I flew to LA and that's when I actually had the in-person audition where I met the people who would end up being my castmates. We auditioned together and they were like, these are the guys. We exchanged numbers and it was history from there. Now as far as, embodying Lamont, I like to say that it was definitely a test. For anybody that knows me, knows that I'm very goofy and I'm very happy but when it's time to get serious I'm first in line. Lamont is the hard-headed one. He is the hot-headed friend ready to go. In a lot of the scenes, I had to play this hard body, big body gangster little kid but I loved every second of it.
How did you prepare for the role to become Lamont?
It really was just the culture. I tried to really surround myself with Baltimore people and because I'm from Richmond, Virginia area I have family all up in the DMV and Baltimore area. I would go eat with them and I would go hang with them so on set we had a classroom to do our schoolwork with an actual teacher. We would watch the neighborhood kids get out of school and literally grab their bicycles. One kid didn't have a light or a front wheel and he literally just lifted the bike up and just popped and wheelie all the way home. I was like that was mind-blowing. It's really the life they live. This is their every day. I was like, there's no way I'm going to play in a movie and not experience this. I got to surround myself with people that do this every day and that's what I tried to do. You know, it's different from just reading off of the script.
The new project Terror Lake Drive, tell us about it.
It's about a family, a mom and a son. They relocate to Baltimore from Atlanta. The mom is basically just trying to get away from her past and somehow it keeps catching up to her. Her son, me, I'm witnessing this firsthand and I'm trying my best to protect my mom and do everything I can to make things right. It all picks up from there. It's available on UMC (Urban Movie Channel).
Being a young, Black male you have had the opportunity to witness the pandemic to the racial injustices. Oftentimes the older generations don't listen to the younger generations who have something to say, how has everything that has gone on this year from the pandemic to the injustices affected you and shaped your mind about what you want to give the world?
Well, I mean, I feel as if, like you said, the older generations don't really care to hear what teenagers and the younger generations have to say. I will say that if we're supposed to be the future leaders and the future presidents how do you expect change? If you all are not educating us, then the world can educate us on the wrong information. There will be no change and history is going to repeat. So I would say, educate the kids, educate the teenagers, so that when they do have the power and they do have the position to actually make a change, they make a change. I feel like for me as far as everything that's going on right now, I really just try to take my time and really educate myself on the right thing. I also stay out of the way and try to inspire people and make everybody happy doing what I'm doing. That is a lot of the reason why I decided to keep venturing out with dancing, acting and producing, and trying to learn new stuff that could really inspire kids. I want to open more doors for people that may not have the money or support.