League City native Nicole Alyse Nelson is living her wildest dreams starring in Nickelodeon’s “I Am Frankie” and interacting with Lady Gaga on the set of “American Horror Story.”
“It’s been pretty crazy,” the 21-year-old actress said. “I started doing crew, and I started doing things other than being on camera. Every single opportunity has just been crazy in terms of how it got there as well.”
Deciding to move to Los Angeles two years ago, Nelson quickly found an internship in the bustling city.
“I have to say, I somewhat took the easy way out meaning that when I did come to Los Angeles I was not planning on dropping everything and leaving my life behind,” she said. “It was kind of like a three-month trial area. It was the summer and I had a summer internship at a film-production company.”
Getting ready to fly back to Texas, she got a job offer to be a production assistant on the ABC show “The Goldbergs.” At the time, she was a student at the University of North Texas.
It was at that moment that she made a decision, Nelson said.
“All of these dates that I was presented with were happening after my flight,” she said. “I’m in school to do this, and I’m already doing it. That was the moment, three months after I was here, that I realized I needed to just stay. It was perfectly meant to be.”
The differences between League City and Los Angeles are stark, Nelson said.
“There’s a lot more people, traffic is a lot worse,” she said. “It’s beautiful, though. One of the first things I noticed out here was the layout of the land. Within one hour in every direction you could get every type of landscape you could think of, which is why it’s so popular with film here.”
It’s important for Nelson, a Clear Creek High School graduate, to get out of the city and go home to League City to visit family and friends, she said.
“Sometimes Los Angeles can feel like an entertainment bubble and you definitely need to go home or get out at least one month out of the year because otherwise it will suffocate you,” she said. “My whole family is there, and I go home for the holidays, and it feels so nice to just be welcomed by a bunch of people that I grew up with that aren’t so super into themselves or their career.”
Previous patches of land now house restaurants and expansion projects like Baybrook Mall and have all been unbelievable to witness when she visited, Nelson said.
While she misses home, working as an actress at Nickelodeon studios has been a dream come true, Nelson said.
“I can’t say it without sounding cheesy,” she said. “Growing up as a kid, I was a total Nickelodeon kid. I absolutely love the content. I think our show is brilliantly written. Just watching the story and our show really unfold as we shot it was an experience that I truly could’ve only dreamed of.”
What makes “I Am Frankie” great is how complex its themes are for a children’s show, Nelson said.
“It’s all about just how people perceive you and just how to blend in,” she said. “The show has great characters, it’s really funny and family oriented. There’s actually a lot of layers and a lot of drama.”
Nelson plays Dayton Reyes, a friend of the main character, Frankie Gaines, who is a new girl at school and an android. The show is in its first season.
Nelson’s success as an actress is not surprising, Clear Creek High School Head Theatre Director Bradley Hewlett said.
“In my time working with Nicole, she consistently demonstrated intelligence, a determined work ethic and a genuine respect for the craft of acting,” Hewlett said. “Those are all prerequisites for finding your place in a business that is challenging to navigate.”
With more time and experience in Los Angeles, Nelson wants to pursue voiceover work on cartoon shows with Nickelodeon and also expand to other TV networks, she said.
“In several years, when I’m no longer playing or looking 14, I would love to hop into a network like Freeform or the CW or a Netflix original series,” she said.