From Small Beginnings to Big Screens


Reece Harris

Little girls often dream big wanting to be models, movie stars or singers. They will spend hours in front of the mirror in dress-up clothes, pretending to be their favorite characters.

For Fredericksburg High School senior Hailey Knudsen, her dreams of becoming an actress ever since she was five became a reality when offered a role on the set of Freedom, a western drama film.

“I gained my love and respect for acting when I was five, but I started competition dancing when I was two. So that’s whenever my, ‘oh I like performing spark’ began,” Knudsen said. “My parents always noticed that if they played music, my foot would keep time with it. Ever since then, I always realized I wanted to do something with performing.”

Starting at Fredericksburg Theater Company, with Knudsen’s first role being in Honk, she quickly fell in love with the art of performing in the theater.

“I had a lady reach out to me, and she wrote a book based on her life story,” Knudsen said. “It’s your typical city girl meets a country boy. They meet at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), and they move out to a small town.”

She went on to be cast as Robin, a supporting role as a waitress, in this movie. Knudsen started her role this summer in Oklahoma.

“It was more just pre-production shots, and also interviewing, but it was weird because everywhere I would go, somebody would interview me,” Knudsen said. “It was a process, but also neat because we would do shooting on horse. I was even interviewed on a horse.”

Even though it was just pre-production shots, Knudsen had enough memories and stories to fill a lifetime. A significant one being running the flag while singing the national anthem during a rodeo.

“People came from all over the U.S. to come for this event, so they wanted to have a rodeo, to get some scenes for the movie, and it was supposed to be just really small, but there were people from Texas and everywhere,” Knudsen said.

After growing close with the lead, Lisa Varga, she offered Knudsen to not only be Robin but also be her double in the movie.

“She’s been trying to help me get into this industry. She’s going to let me be her double in this movie because you get a pay raise, and whenever you’re going for different films, they’re going to see that you were a double for a larger name actress, so it counts as more points in the industry.”

Filming this spring will be primarily in Oklahoma, with a few shots in Las Vegas for the NFR scenes. Already filming a while in Oklahoma, Knudsen knows the place.

“We were in a little small town called Freedom, and it’s smaller than Fredericksburg. It’s the tiniest little place. It looks like you could have a shootout in the street,” Knudsen said.

With filming taking place this spring, it will be a balancing act for Knudsen, going between school and filming.

“For me, looking at my schedule, it’s probably going to be, I’m at school, and then Friday after the bell, I will fly out there, do my scenes and come back either early Monday morning or late Sunday night, just so I can get my scenes filmed,” Knudsen said.

Before even starting much of the filming, Knudsen already has been offered roles in eight other movies, one even being a lead in a series that will be turned into a movie. Along with this, she has also been offered by two companies in Nashville for a record deal.

“My goal is to get as big as I can get. You hear people say they want to be famous for money, but I want to do it because I feel like it is a good platform to speak,” Knudsen said. “It also shows you can strive for big things too. I mean, even if I’m not A list, it would still be neat to be that girl from the small town that kind of made it.”