Meet Sainty Nelsen — a performer and producer who has taken her talents from Fort Worth to Hollywood and back again.
Sainty started acting at Casa Mañana when she was three years old and performed in 50+ professional Actors Equity shows before heading to Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio to study musical theater.
From there, Sainty headed to New York City where she met her husband, actor Eric Nelsen. They moved to Los Angeles as their careers grew, scoring roles in Netflix’s animated show “Gabby’s Dollhouse” and the “Yellowstone” spinoff series “1883.” Between the two of them, they have four Emmy Awards and two Tony Awards.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, moving home to Cowtown felt like the best fit for their family. Now, the couple is working to build the expanding entertainment industry in Fort Worth.
What big projects do you have coming up?
Eric: I’m currently in Arkansas shooting a movie about a band – currently called “Shakey Grounds.” I get to play the lead singer and perform three songs in the movie. I’m working with Eric Roberts, Academy Award nominee.
Sainty: I’m recording “Gabby’s Dollhouse,” and “The Loud House” and I’m about to be on “Spidey and His Amazing Friends.” And I can’t shed too much light on it right now, but I think it’s time that Hallmark comes to Fort Worth.
What can you tell us about “The Will Rogers Story”?
Eric: We’re in the developmental stages of it right now, but we really want to shine light on the untold story of the life of this incredible man. He was so influential throughout the south and all over the world. I don’t think there’s a place in Texas or Oklahoma you can go without seeing his name.
We’ve got a great team of people, including Brian Kelly of Florida Georgia Line. We’re looking at later this year to actually start film production on it.
Should our readers keep an eye out for a cameo from the Will Rogers family?
Eric: The Rogers’ family is attached to the project as producers. We’re so fortunate to have a relationship with them and that they’ve been so supportive of our project. I can’t confirm it’s happening, but we certainly will do whatever we can in all capacities to have them involved as much or as little as they’d like to be.
How is the production community different in Fort Worth compared to other filming hotspots?
Eric: It’s the support. You see a community of people come together and support the projects that are happening. When you’re filming in places like Texas, everybody — from the mayor to restaurant owners — is encouraging of the film production. They love seeing it happen. Shows like “1883” really put the city on the map — and not just from a filming perspective — we’re telling stories of Texas. The history of the city is playing out on screen.
I get up on the rooftops and scream to everybody to come to Texas and bring your films and TV shows here. There’s also a ton of great crew members here and there’s just a lot of people hungry for entertainment. The city is growing so quickly and it opens up a lot of job opportunities. I’m excited to see this boom and I want to keep seeing it grow.
How do you see Cowtown’s entertainment industry changing in the next decade?
Sainty: I think it’s going to be the place to film, to be honest, just based on taxes, weather, more land, and places to shoot. Taylor Sheridan has put us on the map. Everyone’s very supportive and excited about it right now. I really think this is going to be one of the big hubs for the entertainment industry.
ICYMI: Taylor Sheridan reportedly wants to move his production company to Fort Worth, and Mayor Mattie Parker is talking with state legislators about increasing the film incentives to encourage more film-making in Texas.
Keep reading for some fast facts about Eric and Sainty.
What movie or show you would you love to be in?
Sainty: Hallmark Christmas movies, anything Bravo, or “Real Housewives” minus the drama
Eric: Aaron Paul’s role on “Breaking Bad”, any really cool dramatic mini-series would be incredible, and anything Taylor Sheridan is doing
If you could only eat at one restaurant in Fort Worth for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Eric: Joe T.’s — everybody has a good time and you’ll always be treated well. I get the chicken fajitas with no oil, just salt and pepper with the veggies on the side.
Sainty: Grace — that’s our favorite place for steak.
Who are some other local leaders that inspire you?
Eric: George Apodaca with ArcPoint Studios, which is an amazing creative space with rotating sets and studios. It’s a great environment for creatives.
Sainty: Mayor Mattie Parker is doing so many incredible things with the town and just wanting Fort Worth to be such a special place.
The couple also shouted out local business leaders and creators including Lizzy Chesnut, founder of City Boots, “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan, Rusty Reid from Higginbotham Insurance, and Dr. Larry McCarthy and Dr. Christopher Easterling from Cook Children’s Hospital as people who both inspire and support them.
Eric, how long have you been riding horses?
Eric: My dad was a thoroughbred polo horse trainer and my mom showed horses, so we grew up around horses on a farm in Florida. I was familiar with the world, but it wasn’t my passion growing up. When I started “1883,” I went to cowboy camp and completely fell in love with it. Now I’m happiest when I’m on horseback.
I actually won the celebrity cutting competition at Will Rogers Coliseum. I’ve got incredible trainers, Shelly and Rick Mowery out of Weatherford, who’ve helped me every step of the way.
Bonus questions: what is cowboy camp?
Eric: It’s what Taylor Sheridan does to prepare his actors before each season of “Yellowstone,” “1883,” and “1923.” It’s two-to-three weeks of learning all things cowboy — like working cattle and shooting guns — so it’s second nature when the cameras are rolling. You’ve never worked this hard in your entire life, but it’s so rewarding and fun — and you form a bond with the animals.
It was the coolest prep I’ve ever gotten to do for a project, hands down. I think that’s Taylor’s special sauce for his TV shows and I hope other filmmakers take note of what an impact it has for the actors.