By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Lily Cardone has always been a hardworking teenager. She volunteers at her church, maintained a 5.95 GPA even after back surgery last year, and can now call herself the winner of ABC's Make Me a Star competition.
The nationwide competition accepts audition tapes from teenagers all over the country hoping to jump-start their acting career. Lily heard about the contest from a friend and decided - rather last minute - to take part.
She took what little time she had after school, hair still a bit unruly from a long day of classes, and filmed herself reciting the script that ABC provided.
A month later, she was thrilled to find out she was a semi-finalist and three weeks after that, one of four finalists.
"It was crazy. From the beginning we didn't expect anything from it," Lily said. "When I found out I was a semifinalist I was like, they liked my tape, frizzy hair and all!"
Her second audition tape was posted online, giving friends and family a chance to vote for her. She and her family posted a link to her entry on Facebook and Twitter and Martin County High School, where Lily attends as a sophomore, even promoted it in their news.
All of her hard work paid off. On Jan. 31 executives from ABC contacted Lily via Skype to let her know she had won the competition.
"Oh my goodness, I was so happy," said Lily's mom Debbi Cardone who was squealing in the background as Lily got her good news.
Lily was also thrilled and surprised, exuberant that ABC liked her tape. In addition to the compliment she'll be receiving $10,000 and a six-month holding contract with ABC that may get her a part in a TV show or promotion for the station. It might mean she'll get a chance to head to Los Angeles.
"That would be really exciting. It would be an amazing experience," Lily said.
She's been acting since she was 5 and never thought much would come of it, but as she got older she developed a passion for it.
"I just love it. It's something that comes naturally to me, I guess," Lily said. "I like that I'm able to become somebody else."
She's been in commercials, short films, even an independent feature film called "As Night Falls," but her Make Me a Star win will help her along to the acting career she desires.
"I am so proud of her. She tries hard at whatever she does," Mrs. Cardone said. "Her future is going to be very bright."