Launching his father’s spaceship, the Odyssey 2, was an accident. Elliot Combs, the sensitive and proud son of the Odyssey’s billionaire owner, had convinced his four friends to sneak on board with him. He called it “a once in a lifetime deal.”

Then the countdown to launch began. 

Now, Elliot has to prove that he is the leader that he knows he can be and learn how to work together with his friends, not only to show his worth to his dad and to himself but also to bring them safely home to their parents, who are watching from Earth. 

But they are not alone in space. 

“The Astronauts” is a new Nickelodeon series starring Plano native Bryce Gheisar, Keith L. Williams, Kayden Grace Swan, and Ben Daon. Dean Israelite directs and serves as executive producer along with Marcus Stokes, Jonathan Frakes, and Daniel Knauf who is also the creator, writer, and showrunner. It premiers at 7 p.m. Nov. 13. 

“Elliot comes across as confident and rude but is actually more sensitive,” says Bryce, who is 15. “The cool thing about it is that I was actually auditioning for Will, but looked older than the other kids. [So I auditioned] for Elliot and it fit better, more in tune with what they wanted.” 

Born in 2004 in Plano, Bryce was a rising star in competitive gymnastics when he first discovered his love for acting. At 8 years old, he didn’t know that you could become an actor. “At first it was very different than I was used to,” he says. “Gymnastics were very sporty and required like practice three hours every day. Very tough. Acting felt like less of a hassle and something fun. Then after a certain amount of time, I realized it could be a career path.”   

Bryce enrolled at Cathryn Sullivan’s Acting for Film school in Lewisville. Cathryn “Cathy” Sullivan has been teaching actors and actresses for decades in the Dallas area. Her older son Chad had starred in several films, including 1994’s Frank & Jesse, 1995’s Past the Bleachers, and 1998’s Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack, before his untimely death in 2011. Her younger son Cody Linley played Jack Ryan on Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana show. 

Cathy offers a variety of acting classes for kids, teens, and adults such as Acting for Camera for 6 to 9-year-old kids and film classes for 10-year-old and up, even until they hit college. Sullivan’s Hall of Fame includes a variety of successful artists, including Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Thomas Mann.

As Devin Way from “Grey’s Anatomy” wrote in a testimonial included on Cathy’s website for her acting school: “The beautiful thing about my experience at Cathryn’s was as much as I knew she cared about my acting, she cared about me more. She cares about her students. Authentically. Then from a place of love and trust, reaches in and transforms their acting ability from the inside out. Once you’re one of Cathy’s kids, you’re hers for life.”

Cathy’s school transformed Bryce, who was originally interested in the comedic side of acting. He loves comedies, but as he grew older, he fell in love with the dramatic side of acting. “And that was one of the things that Cathy helped me discover how to do the emotional state in different scenes,” he says.

For about five years, Bryce took classes from Cathy, reaching the master level before leaving at the age of 13 or 14. In his early days of acting, like many beginning actors, he shot quite a few commercials. In 2015, he landed a short role as Elijah Gutnick in The Bus Stop. A year later, he appeared as Herman in Walk the Prank, and then transitioned into film. 

His first feature was A Dog’s Purpose in 2017, starring Dennis Quad, Josh Grad, and several other well known actors. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, it was based on the 2010 novel by W. Bruce Cameron and told the story of a devoted dog searching for a rightful purpose. Bryce played Ethan Montogermy, a kind-hearted boy who adopts the dog. 

From there, he appeared in Wonder with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, and Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, starring Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. Bryce played a young Alek in the biographical film, based on the autobiography The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes.

“It was really surreal being on set [with Clint Eastwood],” Bryce says. “He is kind of like a guy who sits and instead of calling action says, ‘Go ahead.’ He’s very quiet and [wants it] calm on set.”

Bryce offers this piece of advice for aspiring actors, though it could also apply to other artists such as musicians and writers:

“You have to love it because there is a lot of rejection. I do hundreds of auditions and don’t hear back on almost all of them. You really have to focus and if you don’t, it’s very hard, and don’t take things personally. Just keep at it.”  

Christian McPhate

Christian McPhate is the managing editor of Local Profile. He has been working as a journalist for more than a decade. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Dallas Morning News,...