What happens when a football coach turned actor teams up with a former rodeo queen turned actress/producer? Magic. That’s what happens. But before I dive into what’s so magical about this duo, let me set the scene.
Carl Bailey, also known as “Coach” by most of his peers, is a Texas native and has an extensive professional resume. Beyond his resume, he has a deep-rooted passion for sports, specifically football; not only did he play growing up, but he also coached his hometown football team for 20 years. In his years of coaching, he grew in his faith and realized that his purpose was to serve others. Thus he created a website for high school football coaches to discuss coaching and network with each other in a positive forum. That was around 1999, which was also when he garnered his infamous nickname, “Old Coach”.
The funny thing about the Old Coach’s website was that it was anonymous, so no one knew that Carl was the one behind the new platform for high school football coaches. In an effort to drive more traffic and attention to the website, Carl started broadcasting football at the Allen Eagles football games. The coach’s voice became synonymous with the team and the broadcasting provided an opportunity for the community to be a part of the games even if they couldn’t attend.
Fast forward several years, Carl was talking to a friend of his who mentioned that a buddy of his who kind of looked like Carl had just been booked as an actor on a cop show. That piqued Carl’s interest. He figured out who to get into contact with and on a whim emailed a picture of himself to the casting crew. The next thing he knew, he was booked as an extra for the NBC show, Chase. In a quote from the “Allen Image Magazine”, Coach says,
“I applied my coaching philosophy to acting. It takes practice to get better in anything you do.”
Then the rest is history. In his acting career, he has been featured in nearly 100 film projects including independent films, short films, student films, and even several major motion pictures. One thing remains the same, even throughout all of his roles, he remained the “Old Coach” and is now directing his own films, but more on that to come.
Let’s talk about Tonja. Tonja René is an actor turned producer/director and talent manager with a passion for television and film. She has many television and film credits in supporting and leading roles. Her background as a performer goes back to her early childhood. She did modeling as a teen, studied music and acting, and did numerous stage performances as a singer and actor. Tonja also traveled extensively as a rodeo queen in her teen years. She credits that experience as well as the disciplines received from having horses and being around hard-working ranchers for her understanding of who she is and her love of public speaking; for developing her love of performing to all types of audiences.
Life drew Tonja away from the entertainment industry for several years. She went through many life experiences that she credits God for doing the inexplainable through and healing her from the hidden pain of abuse and rejection and breaking off repeat patterns that plagued her family for generations. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and Tonja’s experiences are at the center of that saying.
Tonja came back to the entertainment industry with a new purpose and passion as a result of a dream she had, a love for her country, and the roots of the cowboy culture she grew up in. Tonja is not just an actor with many credits, she is a business visionary who is a writer, producer, director, set designer, and talent developer. Her passion to create quality stories and develop talent to work at top levels in productions without all the negative “junk” is the reason Tonja created “EmpoWORD2B” which is the brand name for EmpoWORD Media & Talent (pronounced M-POW-WORD). Tonja is also a Talent Manager with LA-based The Robb Company, a talent management company with over 30 years of experience.
Now when you bring two native Texans together who are both equally passionate about their faith and overall purpose, that’s where the magic happens. Tonja and Carl first met when Tonja cast him for a role in her modern-day western short called, “Wisdom County Ranch”. WCR is a powerful story Tonja is developing and starring in to become a series expected to film outside of Fort Worth, Texas. WCR tells the story of two sisters who move back to the small Texas town they grew up in and take over their family ranch. They overcome obstacles from living in what is often a man’s world in a unique way that drives positive change. Together they press into the grit and wisdom their parents instilled in them, along with their faith, to break down divisive mindsets in order to unite their family and community. It’s a series that speaks to the heart of the cowboy spirit and appeals to a wide age range.
Working together on Wisdom County Ranch, Carl and Tonja became friends and realized their business mindsets are similar. They also recognized their shared passion for westerns could lead to greater things together and started putting plans to action. With the “Old Coach” as the captain and Tonja at the helm, “Dawn at Dominion” was born.
About Dawn at Dominion
Dawn at Dominion is a gun-smoked, action-filled, western drama that pays homage to the venerable B-westerns of Hollywood’s golden age while bringing the western genre to contemporary film standards.
In the 1880s a former western bounty hunter, Travis Stone, tracks down the outlaws who have kidnapped the wife of Shiloh Taylor, the gambling boss of Dominion, Texas. Stone is successful in rescuing Faith Taylor and now they must survive a dangerous gauntlet of lethal antagonists to make their way home. The pair of unsure companions must overcome swarms of ruthless bounty hunters, vengeance-seeking Apaches, murderous good Samaritans, and the deadly Pistolero Mingo Montoya, a former friend who may not be the ally he appears to be.
Questions are created during the journey as Stone and Faith attempt to prevail over each new challenge. In classic western style, all will be revealed in a final confrontation in the bloody streets of Dominion.
Dawn at Dominion and Wisdom County Ranch is just two productions that Tonja René and Carl “The Coach” Bailey are working on together. They have more scripts they are writing and being presented with as well as investors approaching them with interest in western projects.
If there’s one thing that we can learn from this story of two unlikely individuals coming together, is that you can’t be steered wrong when faith and passion are followed with “Action!”
Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine
This article was created for the Spring Issue of the Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine which was released in early April. You can catch this article and many more by checking out the full issue. For more information on Cowboy Lifestyle Magazine, visit the website here.
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