Introducing Diana and Andre, who play Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton in Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures.

Each night, Diana and Andre wow audiences as Avie Lee Owens and Lee Parton at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures. Together, they perform unbelievable aerial acts alongside an incredibly talented cast.
Here, they talk about how they met and developed their craft. They also chat about their different homes and share what they love most about living here in the Smoky Mountains.

Diana – Avie Lee Owens

Where are you from?
“I was born in Venezuela, and my family moved to Miami when I was nine years old.”

How is life in the Smokies different from Miami?
“It’s very different. I traded palm trees for mountains. We don’t have mountains in Miami.”

The Owens and Partons love to play family games. What types of games did you play as a child?
“I loved to draw and watched gymnastics and I danced a lot.”

So how does a girl from Miami end up starring in Smoky Mountain Adventures here in Pigeon Forge?
“I attended a special school for gymnasts. There, I was introduced to acrobatics and that’s where I started aerial training. Those things prepared me for the acts that are such a big part of the show.”

What is your favorite part of Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“I love performing the “Mountain Boy Holler Girl” scene with Andre and I really like the show opening too.”

Diana met Andre during her training in Miami, FL. The two hit it off and have been working together for about three years before joining the Smoky Mountain Adventures cast.


Andre – Lee Parton

Where are you from?
“I was born in Siberia and yes it is way colder there than here!”

Siberia! Wow, besides the temperature, what are some of the other differences between your home and your new life here in Tennessee?
“It is really beautiful here and the climate here is nice. The forest is beautiful. In Siberia, it is mostly hills and pine trees, so there are some similarities that remind me of home.”

What kinds of games were you interested in as a kid?
“We played army and sword fighting, you know, typical boy stuff.”

How did you find your way from Siberia to Pigeon Forge?
“Sure, when I was 14 years old, I started lifting weights and really got into gymnastics more and more. I did high bar and I loved to breakdance. Later, I came to the US for more training. Then, about three years ago, I met Diana and we started working together. Our three years of experience together really helped prepare us for our performances here.”

What is your favorite thing about performing at Smoky Mountain Adventures?
“Honestly, I love that I get to do so many things. We have a really talented cast and I love that I can learn so much from the people I get to work with every day.”

Do you have a favorite part of the show?
“Yes! I love the Hootenanny. It’s so fun and lively and involves everyone.”


Food, Songs & Dolly

Diana and Andre also sat down together to answer a few questions about the show, the dinner and, of course, Dolly Parton.

What’s your favorite part of Avie Lee’s Sunday Dinner?
Diana – “The fried chicken!”
Andre – “Yes, I like the chicken, too, and the corn on the cob.”

Do you have a favorite song from the show?
Diana – “I love ‘Something More’ I always sing it in my head during the show.”
Andre – “‘Clear Blue Morning’ that’s my favorite one.”

Outside of the show, do you have a favorite Dolly Parton song?
Diana – “Yes, ‘Jolene’ is my favorite, I love that song! I love singing it.”
Andre – “For me, it would have to be ‘9 to 5.’”

See Diana and Andre perform at Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures this summer in Pigeon Forge, TN!


Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Dean celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary!

Dolly and Carl Dean have enjoyed 50 years of wedded bliss despite facing many of life's obstacles common to most married couples and plenty of unique challenges all their own.

They met outside the Wishy Washy Laundromat in Nashville, TN, on the first day Dolly moved to Music City. Falling in love and getting married were, perhaps, the last things on young Dolly Parton's mind. Yet, here was a tall, dark and handsome man who swept her off her feet. She said,

"I was surprised and delighted that while he talked to me, he looked at my face (a rare thing for me). He seemed to be genuinely interested in finding out who I was and what I was about."

Two years after that fateful meeting, Dolly and Carl were married on May 30, 1966. It was Memorial Day, Dolly and Carl traveled to Ringgold, GA, with her mother. They had a simple, private ceremony with only Avie Lee, the preacher and his wife in attendance. Since that day, Dolly and Carl have lived happily-ever-after for 50 years. They've loved and supported each other while respecting each other's independence.

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Their 50 years of happiness is a true testament to their parents, Avie Lee and Robert Lee Parton and Carl’s mother and father, Virginia "Ginny" Bates Dean and Edgar “Ed” Henry Dean. The Parton's had 12 children and the Dean's had three. Dolly fondly referred to Ginny as Mama Dean and says she was her best friend.

Nearly every aspect of Dolly and Carl's personalities compliment one another. While one would think Dolly would be the most entertaining of the two, she often says that it's Carl's unique sense of humor which keeps her laughing. Given Dolly's larger-than-life outlook on everything, it makes perfect sense that her one-and-only would be equally as special in every way.

Dolly's wedding dress and Carl's suit will be on display at Dolly’s Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood beginning July 1.

Since she has no plans of slowing down, what has worked for Dolly and Carl for the past 50 years is sure to carry them through the next.

Dolly penned her heartfelt emotions for Carl in the words of her song, "From Here to the Moon and Back."

"From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Love everlasting, I promise you that
From here to the moon and back"DP-Sig

Jennifer Nettles shares her thoughts on Avie Lee, her favorite moments of the film and more.

Singer-songwriter and musician, Jennifer Nettles, portrays Dolly Parton's mother in the new NBC film based on Dolly's song, "Coat of Many Colors." Best known as lead vocalist of the country duo Sugarland, Jennifer is a storyteller at heart. She was beyond thrilled to join in the re-telling of this beloved story from Dolly's childhood.

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Q. As you started to develop your character, what things about Avie Lee stood out or perhaps surprised you?

A. What I loved most about Avie Lee was her authentic mixture of vulnerability, compassion and strength. She loses a child and goes into a dark depression. She checks out for a while. She is real and wounded and human. But, her love of her family gives her strength to push beyond and create a beautiful metaphor of rebirth out of tragedy by making a coat for Dolly. I love so much that beautiful, living metaphor of her sewing those pieces back together. So womanly and strong.

Q. The Parton family is known for their tight-knit bonds. While filming, did the cast develop similar family-like relationships?

A. We had a ball. Having so many kids in the cast kept us all laughing and humble. Children have a beautiful way of demanding your presence and that definitely provided levity much of the time. Though there were times where I definitely heard myself become "mother-hen" in trying to help keep their little attentions for the next shot. And, true to the script, many of the older children helped to keep the younger ones in focus.

Q. Considering everything you have done in your career, where does this role rank in your list of achievements?

A. Playing the role of Avie Lee definitely ranks up at the top of the list for rewarding artistic experiences. I love telling stories, be it in a three and a half minute song or as an actor. Getting to tell such a beautiful story as Avie Lee's and getting to dive deeply into her heart, her struggles and her strength was such a treat for me.

Q. Knowing that Dolly herself helped cast you in this role, did you feel a certain amount of pressure to get it right and if so how did you handle it?

A. You better believe I felt pressure!! I was chosen to play Dolly Parton's mother!! The relationship between a mother and child is so special and sacred and complex. I wanted to honor their close bond and make Dolly proud at the same time. I asked Dolly about her mother and also pulled from my own precious relationship with my mother, not to mention my own relationship with my son as a mother myself.

Q. The song "Coat of Many Colors" first debuted in 1971, yet it still has a powerful message for people today. Why do you think people relate so well to this story?

A. The symbol of the "Coat of Many Colors" is one of alchemy. We are all so attracted and attached to the very real experience of something simple and humble actually holding the most value. We love and relate to taking humility and limited resources and watching them be transformed into gold, through the lens of love.

Q. Other than "Coat of Many Colors," do you have a favorite Dolly song?

A. "Jolene." Of course. Such a fantastic story of the complexities and messiness of love and life. And I love that it is from one woman to another.

Q. What was your favorite moment of making the film or your favorite takeaway?

A. Interestingly enough, my favorite moments were the most painful ones. The funeral scene in particular. How cathartic. I hope its rawness touches people and reminds them that their own losses are seen and understood.

See more cast interviews and tune in Thursday, December 10 at 9/8c on NBC to watch Jennifer Nettles as Avie Lee Parton in "Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors."

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Dolly performs special concert for a lucky fan to benefit her Imagination Library and releases new cookbook, "Dolly's Dixie Fixin's"

Dolly Parton treated one lucky fan to a "backyard barbeque and bluegrass festival" to coincide with the launch of "Dolly's Dixie Fixin's," her new cookbook to benefit Imagination Library. Dolly's cookbook is sold exclusively through Dollywood and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show. She said,

“Since I don’t have any plans to tour this year, it would be difficult for me to perform at Dollywood to benefit the Imagination Library. I have been working on this cookbook for a while, so I thought now would be the perfect time to release it and devote all the proceeds to the Dollywood Foundation.”

"Dolly's Dixie Fixin's" features more than 125 recipes, including many from Dolly's personal collection of southern specialties like her popular banana pudding. Many of the recipes were passed down to Dolly from her late mother, Avie Lee Parton, as well as several from her mother-in-law, "Mama (Ginny) Dean." The cookbook also includes recipes from Parton's family entertainment companies, including Dollywood theme park's Noodlin' Ned's Catfish and Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show's one-of-a-kind cream of vegetable soup. She even includes recipes for dishes inspired by her favorite restaurants discovered during more than 40 years of touring.

Dolly composes first song, "Little Tiny Tasseltop," before she could read or write

Since being able to speak in full sentences, Dolly learned to take inspiration from the simplest things. She could easily match a rhyming lyric to a simple melody and turn it into a song. At the age of five, Dolly composed a song called "Little Tiny Tasseltop." The song was a tribute to her precious doll made of a corncob with corn silk hair. Since Dolly couldn't yet read or write, her mother, Avie Lee, wrote down the words as the little songbird sang into her tin can microphone atop a tobacco stick wedged into the boards of their front porch.

Listen: In the audio file below, Dolly Parton sings "Little Tiny Tasseltop."

Little tiny tasseltop,
I love you an awful lot
Corn silk hair and big brown eyes
How you make me smile

Little tiny tasseltop
You’re the only friend I’ve got
Hope you never go away
I want you to stay

You’re my tiny tasseltop
You’re my favorite-est doll
Even if you’re just a cobb
I want you to stay

Although the song may not be a chart-topping hit, it can be credited as the genesis of Dolly's incredible songwriting career.



All Things Dolly
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