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15 Rising Stars From Minnesota You Should Know About

Minnesota isn't just a frosty winter wonderland. It also is a thriving and highly regarded arts and theater community. Here are 15 young entertainers (in no particular order) who are making a buzz in Hollywood and beyond.

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1. Lenay Dunn

Age: 28

Hometown: Fridley

Model and TV host Lenay Dunn (née Olsen), grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She is currently the host of the MTV talk show '10 on Top' and is the "It girl" and model for the clothing brand American Rag alongside the band "The All-American Rejects". She married former "Hawk Nelson" lead singer Jason Dunn in 2009 in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota.

2. Kylie Bunbury


Hometown: Prior Lake, MN (though she was born in Canada)

Actress Kylie Bunbury moved to Los Angeles initially as a model and quickly began booking acting roles. She currently stars in the hit ABC Family series "Twisted" and had a role in the Disney film "Prom". She is dating her "Twisted" co-star Ashton Moio.

Bonus Fact: her brother Alex is a professional soccer player in Canada.

3. Ryan McCartan

Age: 20

Hometown: Excelsior, MN

Ryan, a 2011 graduate of Minnetonka High School, moved out to Los Angeles after a few semesters at the University of Minnesota to pursue acting. He booked a few gigs on TV shows, like "The Middle" before landing a recurring role on the new Disney Channel Series "Liv and Maddie" as a love interest of the lead actress, Dove Cameron (who also became his off-screen girlfriend).

4. Joey Pollari

Age: 19

Hometown: Mounds View

Actor Joey Pollari is best known for his role in the film "Skyrunners" that aired on DisneyXD in 2009. He played a supporting role in the Disney Channel film "Avalon High" with actors Britt Robertson and Gregg Sulkin in 2010. He starred in the short-lived MTV series "The Inbetweeners". He currently lives in Los Angeles.

5. Analeigh Tipton

Age: 24,

Hometown: Minneapolis (moved to California at age 8)

Analeigh started her career as a model on America's Next Top Model, placing 3rd in Cycle 11. She is an accomplished figure skater and since Top Model has begun acting. She has been in films such as "The Green Lantern", "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and most recently, "Warm Bodies."

6. Raina Hein

Age: 26,

Hometown: Minnetonka

Raina was a competitive volleyball player before joining the cast of America's Next Top Model, where she placed second. She is described as being a mix between Brooke Shields and Denise Richards. Since the show, she has had many modeling campaigns, acted in music videos and is signed with a modeling agency in Paris.

7. Connor Franta


Hometown: La Crescent

Connor is 1/6 of the uber popular YouTube boy group "O2L". This group consists of six teenage YouTubers who each have their own individual YouTube accounts and a group account, where they post comedy sketches, vlogs, and collaborations with each other and other YouTubers. They all live in a house together in Los Angeles. Connor grew up in Minnesota and attended St. John's University in Collegeville until last spring, when he moved to LA to continue to grow his YouTube channel and career. He recently hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube.

8. Dane Boedigheimer

Age: 34

Hometown: Born in Minnesota, raised in Harwood, North Dakota

Filmmaker and Voice-Actor Dane is also known online as Daneboe, is a filmmaker known for his mega-hit YouTube series "The Annoying Orange" (which has over a billion views in total) as well as the Cartoon Network spin-off show "The High Fructose Adventures of the Annoying Orange." Dane attended Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he studied Speech Communication and film-making. He is currently married and living in Los Angeles.

9. Brandon Laatsch

Age: Unknown

Hometown: Lake Elmo

Director and Producer Brandon Laatsch, pictured on the right with producing partner Freddie Wong, is a co-creator of the hit YouTube series "Video Game High School", which was funded on Kickstarter. Together with Wong and a few others, Laatsch has recently launched the website for their production company, Rocket Jump Studios.

10. Tay Zonday

Age: 31

Hometown: Minneapolis

YouTuber and Singer Tay Zonday rose to YouTube fame early in the site's existence, in 2007, with his hit viral video "Chocolate Rain", an original song that astonished listeners with his unexpectedly deep vocals for his boyish appearance. As of 2013, the video has over 94 million views. Tay (whose real name is Adam Nyerere Bahner) attended the University of Minnesota and performed in and around Minneapolis. He continues to be a YouTube celebrity on his channel.

11. Nick Pitera

Age: 27

Hometown: Woodbury, MN. He later moved to Belgium.

Singer Nick Pitera is best known for his viral video in which he sings "A Whole New World" from the Disney film "Aladdin" in which he voices both Aladdin and Jasmine. He shocked the world with his talented falsetto and overall vocal range. He is also an animator at Pixar.

12. Adam Young (Owl City)

Age: 27

Hometown: Owatonna

Adam is widely known as singer Owl City, became an overnight success in 2009 with the quadruple platinum, number one single "Fireflies". He later hit number one again with "Call Me Maybe" singer Carly Rae Jepsen with their song "Good Time". He wrote much of his first album in the basement of his Owatonna home while suffering from insomnia. Many of his songs have been featured on film soundtracks and he continues to tour and record new songs.

13. Tim Olstad

Age: 24

Hometown: Winona

Tim is a singer who recently became a top 10 contestant on the X-factor. He recently graduated from the University of Minnesota. His initial nerves about performing in his audition have slowly subsided and he has gained confidence in himself and performing throughout the competition, with the support of his mentor Paulina Rubio.

14. Holly Henry

Age: 19

Hometown: Minnetonka (attended Hopkins High School)

Holly Henry (real last name is Heinrich) was an overnight success after her initial blind audition on NBC's The Voice, where she sang the Coldplay hit, "The Scientist". Her haunting voice contributed to all four judges turning around during her audition and she chose to be on Team Blake (Shelton). The song debuted at #30 on the iTunes chart and stayed on the Top 100 for many days after. She was shockingly eliminated in the knock-out rounds. After her elimination, she said that she will continue to pursue a career in music.

15. Zach Sobiech (1995-2013)

Age: 18

Hometown: Stillwater

Last, but certainly not least is Zach Sobiech. Zach was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, at age 14. He was told in May of 2012 that he had up to a year to live. He recorded a song "Clouds" that he had written about his fight with cancer. The song went viral and reached 3 million users at the time of his death on May 20, 2013. Rainn Wilson (Dwight from "The Office") and his YouTube channel SoulPancake made a documentary about Zach as part of their series "My Last Days". Many celebrities,including Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mraz and Bryan Cranston sang "Clouds" in a surprise video for Zach. His story touched many lives and his family created the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma fund with all the proceeds of his song going towards the fund. Zach will be remembered for his kindness and his passion for life, for the love he had for his family and friends, and his music.

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