Why You Should Know 14-Year-Old Hip Hopper Lil Dee Dee

August 19, 2018

You could say that Donielle “Lil Dee Dee” Hansley joined the family business: His dad (a dancer and recording artist) was his first dance teacher, and his three older siblings are a circus artist, a rapper, and a singer. Dee Dee’s been carving out a path in the entertainment world since the tender age of 6, when he first toured with kid rapper MattyB. In fact, you probably recognize his hard-hitting energy and undeniable charisma from Step Up: High Water, Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong, Lip Sync Battle Shorties, or—super-casual—dancing behind Usher and Chris Brown.

My mentors have always told me, Never give up on yourself. Of course there’ll come times when you’re like, ‘Maybe dance isn’t for me. I’m probably better at something else.’ There’s always someone better than you are—so what? Work 10 times harder so you’re better than they are! —Lil Dee Dee

Fast Facts


March 4, 2004

Richmond, VA

Trains at:
Various studios in L.A. and Atlanta, GA

Artists he’s dying to work with:
Tony Rich and Laurieann Gibson

Most-played music:
The soundtrack from Black Panther, especially “King’s Dead,” by Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake

Favorite dance movie:
You Got Served—of course, that’s a classic. If you’re a dancer, that’s one movie you have to watch.”

Favorite school subject:
Science. “I’m always trying new things and seeing what I can get out of it. I made slime for everyone in my family one Christmas.”

If he were a superhero, his power would be:
Flight or super speed

A version of this story appeared in the September 2018 issue of
Dance Spirit with the title “You Should Know: Lil Dee Dee.”