The face of Nebraska’s tourism campaign honestly comfortable in role
OMAHA -- Carter Frey is the boy in the new Nebraska tourism ads who provides the analogy to describe Nebraska: That odd kid who didn’t say much in school, slightly peculiar maybe. But when you took the time to get to know him, turned out he was pretty interesting.
As it happens, Carter, the towhead looking at the camera through over-sized glasses, actually is pretty interesting ... and at the same time pretty 9-year-old normal.
He’s played the cello since preschool, and is way into “Star Wars.”
“I have this Death Star you hang on the wall and it lights up and makes cool constellations and stuff,” he said in an interview when the Journal Star caught up with him this month at a recital rehearsal at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.
In fact, Carter lobbied for -- successfully -- naming the family tabby Finn, after FN-2187, a “Star Wars” storm trooper from “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” who took a different, more enlightened path.
He collects rocks, his favorite being a sapphire. “They’re beautiful,” he says.
He had a Mario party at The Mark bowling alley and arcade to celebrate his birthday, and one of his gifts was a rock tumbler.
He likes to eat cheeseburgers, salmon, mussels and sushi. And Brussels sprouts, rather than that boring mac and cheese that so many kids live on.
“See? Odd, peculiar,” his mom said.
Carter plans to figure out a way to convince his parents -- Angela and Michael Frey -- to buy him a ball python, one of the most popular and smallest of the African python snakes. He thinks sharks are cute, with those big eyes on the sides of their heads. But he hates bugs, and he especially doesn’t like creepy spiders.
He’s not a fish out of water. On the contrary, his mother says, he’s quite the fearless fish in the water, swimming on a community league swim team this year, and loving it.
It doesn’t bother him to be referenced in the tourism ad as an odd kid. That’s who he is, he confirms, defining it as: “I do silly stuff, like, with Dad. We make up silly names for places.”
And those oversized glasses Carter appears in? Not just a prop. He was born with Duane syndrome, an eye disorder in which the movement of one of his eyes is limited. He’s worn glasses since he was 6 months old.
His mom explained: Carter was missing one of six muscles in his left eye at birth and surgery had to be performed at age 4 to even out the muscles in that eye.
The boy won the Nebraska promotional ad after his mom’s agent at Actors Etc. Limited in Omaha alerted Angela Frey to the tourism office’s call seeking a kid about Carter’s age for their “Nebraska ... It’s not for everyone” campaign.
Carter auditioned, answered some questions and then had a fun Skype interview with tourism director John Ricks before being tapped for the part, his mom said. As of the time of his Journal Star interview, he had not yet seen the tourism video in which he appears.
The Nebraska ad is not the youngster’s first venture into commercials. He was voice talent for a Koch Industries ad emphasizing renewable energy, and in a commercial for Nissan of Omaha, in which he and his sister were pretending to fight in the back seat of the car, something that didn’t require a lot of acting, since they are pretty much naturals at scrapping, according to Carter.
The Frey children come from a performance-minded family.
By day, his mom is an elementary music teacher in Elkhorn, but she also acts in local professional productions. His dad, Michael, is a music teacher in Millard Public Schools, and plays viola in Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra. Sister Anina, 6, has had a role in the Omaha Orpheum Theater’s production of “Waitress.”
So don’t worry about Carter Frey.
Like Nebraska, he’s unpretentious, uncomplicated, blessedly self aware, and exploring -- in his case -- the quirkiness of boyhood.
And he’s enjoying playing that odd-like-Nebraska role.
Photos from the tourism campaign