Transatlantic Coupling

Austin plays a starring role in the life of actress Kelly Frye and her arts consultant fiancé

Austin plays starring role in life of actress Kelly Frye + her fiancé

Kelly Frye and Nick Campbell
The dazzling couple is now calling Austin home. Photo by Skylar Reeves

When actress and Houston native Kelly Frye decided to attend a holiday party in London a little over two years ago, she didn’t expect to strike up a long-distance friendship with hot-shot British arts consultant Nick Campbell.

The friendship developed, despite COVID restrictions and lockdowns, and many transatlantic flights later, the couple is now engaged, planning a Texas wedding and living in the Austin neighborhood of Travis Heights with their dog, Monty. Austin welcomes another cool and dynamic couple ready to leave their mark on its creative scene.

Frye, 37, grew up in the West University area of Houston, one of five children, all of whom were instilled with an early interest in the arts. (Her oldest brother, playwright Jason Nodler, was the artistic director of Houston’s Infernal Bridegroom Productions and is now with The Catastrophic Theatre.)

She is currently starring in the Disney series Secrets of Sulphur Springs, with a second season coming later this month. She also just wrapped up shooting on the Robert Rodriguez thriller Hypnotic, filmed in Austin with Ben Affleck and Alice Braga. Her other credits include recurring roles on All Rise, Criminal Minds, Teachers, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and The Young and The Restless. Frye’s prior film work includes 12 Mighty Orphans, Legacy, Danger One, and Exquisite Corpse.

Since 2018, she has been living between Austin and Los Angeles but is pleased to be settled here now.

“I look forward to becoming more ingrained in the arts community and hope to become more of a staple in the Austin film and television scene,” Frye says. “My oldest brother, Jason, has left such an incredible impact on the arts scene in Houston, and I would love to accomplish the same level of creative collaborative work in Austin.”

Campbell, 35, founded London-based Narcissus Arts in 2010, when he was only 23, with the goal of opening up the art world to a new generation of collectors by specializing in pieces priced lower than $15,000. His new venture, Campbell Art Advisory, will expand its focus outside of the entry price point by sourcing contemporary and emerging art for a global audience.

With his move to Austin, Campbell will also focus on and emphasize Texas-based artists. He says he has been inspired by the exploding art scene in Austin, and hopes to establish himself here “as the go-to person if you are an individual or company looking for art. There are some great artists based all over Texas, from Dallas and Houston to Austin and, of course, Marfa. Some of the Texan artists I’ve been following closest are Adrian Armstrong, Shaun O’Dell, and Kyle Steed.”

CultureMap asked the talented twosome about what they love about Austin and some of their favorite places, their wedding plans and, of course, the scoop on filming with Rodriguez.

CultureMap: What drew you both to Austin?

Kelly Frye: Austin’s energy is palpable. I love how Austin very much feels like Texas but also has a sprinkling of East Coast and West Coast mentality, with its trademark quirky undertone.

Nick Campbell: For me, it was a combination of being part of this exciting, rapidly advancing city and its burgeoning art market.

CM: Where are your favorite spots to hang out in Austin?

KF: On my tour-guide list when friends visit, we always end up at the White Horse. Sway is my go-to Thai in town. Elizabeth Street Cafe for lunch with girlfriends. Perla’s is perfect. I dream about Via 313 pizza. The avocado margaritas at El Alma are a must. Black’s BBQ in Lockhart. Justine’s is always a vibe. Uchi sushi is amazing. I’m dying to try Sushi|Bar ATX, as I love the one in LA. If I’m in the mood for a sandwich, I head to Snarf’s. If I’m craving something healthy, I head to the Soup Peddler and get one of their fabulous shakes or delicious soups.

NC: I’m just getting to know the city, but I’m already a huge fan of Sammie’s for drinks, Uchi for dinner, and White Horse for dancing.

CM: Kelly, you’re an avid golfer who was state-ranked in high school, a 10-year veteran figure skater, a competitive sailor for the Junior Olympics, and an outdoor runner who competed in NCAA cross-country in college. What are y’all’s favorite outdoor activities in Austin?

KF: I love a long run on Town Lake, taking my pup, Monty, to one of the many dog parks around town, and catching a movie at one of the Blue Starlite Drive-In locations. I really enjoy boating with friends who live on Lake Travis, and I loved boating to Ski Shores Cafe with friends, so I look forward to it reopening. A fun afternoon activity is checking out the sculpture garden at the Contemporary at Laguna Gloria or swimming at Barton Springs like my mom did when she was a little girl.

NF: Running the neighborhood streets of South Congress, hiking in the hills above Lake Austin, and paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake.

CM: Where are you planning your wedding and what type of wedding will it be?

KF: We are getting married at the Rothko Chapel in Houston. I grew up visiting the Rothko as a Houstonian and Nick did his dissertation on Mark Rothko. Rothko is one of his favorite artists, so it’s a special place for both of us. We’re having a small family wedding, just 16 of us, with dinner after the ceremony at La Colombe d’Or. We hope to have a larger celebration with friends and extended family the summer of 2023 in Kent, where Nick grew up.

CM: How was it working with Robert Rodriguez on Hypnotic?

KF: Working with Robert Rodriguez has been on my dream job list since I was a “baby actor.” In fact, when I found out I was in consideration for the film, I traveled 37 hours to get from Zakynthos, Greece, back to Austin to start work on the film and I agreed to dye my hair blond. That’s a big deal for a lifetime redhead! Robert was lovely, as was the entire crew that he surrounds himself with. Being on the Troublemaker movie lot felt like a true creative home. Robert sees his vision in his mind’s eye, and the people around him are so wonderfully in sync with how he works. It reminded me of watching an orchestra performing with him as the maestro. Ben Affleck and Alice Braga were also wonderful to work with. Ben was a great scene partner, very present, connected, and kind. While Alice and I did not have any scenes together, we did have a few good laughs in the hair and makeup trailers. I’ve admired her work since watching her on Queen of the South. She’s a total powerhouse.