Texas Voices: Four-Year-Old Actress EmmaRain Welling Wows Everyone at the WorldFest International Film Festival in Houston and Captures Her First Award

by Bob Valleau on May 25, 2023 in Entertainment,

In January, we had the honor to speak with multiple award-winning director Shawn Welling, Welling Films, about his four-year-old daughter, EmmaRain, appearing as the lead role in her first feature film, “Mission from Outer Space” (The 80’s Kid: Chronicles of Agent Rain Moss.) The film also stars Lee Majors, Tom Vera, Alexis Arnold and a host of other supporting actors and actresses. It was shown recently at the WorldFest International Film Festival, Houston, TX (April 25-30), where EmmaRain received her first award for “Best Young Actress.” We wanted to follow up with Shawn and EmmaRain to ask them about this exciting event and award. 


EmmaRain Welling stars in her first feature film, “Mission from Outer Space.” Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

The Reason Why

Director Shawn Welling loves a good challenge to his film-making passion…and to direct his four-year-old daughter, EmmaRain, as the lead in a feature-length film was just the challenge he welcomed. “I wanted to do something fun with my daughter by including her in my passion to tell stories. We started doing shorts that soon led up to the full feature, Mission From Outer Space. At first, she would get tired of filming, but now each day she asks me to do another scene and she thinks of the next movie plot with me.”

Easy Peasy

Most directors would shy away from including kids in feature-length films, especially in a leading role as young as EmmaRain, because of their short attention spans. However, directing EmmaRain was easy but there were a couple of exceptions. “EmmaRain was three-and-a-half when I started filming this movie, and she was fairly easy to direct. The hardest part was keeping her from laughing. However, I was really impressed by how well she took to blocking her scenes especially with so many actors around her. Sometimes she would ad lib by doing something or saying something that I didn’t ask of her, so I just kept a lot of that in the film.”

The Audience Reacts

EmmaRain’s friend was thrilled to see her on the big screen. Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

The audience – and Dad’s – reaction to the film was a positive mix. “The audience laughed a lot. I even cried. One of EmmaRain’s friends went to the theater for the first time and got to see her friend on the big screen which thrilled them both.”

Winning the Award

Director Shawn Welling was ecstatic when his daughter EmmaRain won the Best Young Actress award at the WorldFest International Film Festival. Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

During the awards ceremony, Shawn was surprised when he heard EmmaRain’s name called for Best Young Actress. “I was ecstatic and thrilled beyond belief when EmmaRain’s name was called for winning the Best Young Actress award – and so was EmmaRain! I saw her get up from her seat in the audience, and, with a big smile and a lollipop in her hand, she made her way to the front to get her award. It truly was a very cool thing to see her win. I’ll never forget my excitement when I received my first award as a director. It made me want to make more movies. The best part of making movies is to settle in and watch one of my films on the big screen knowing it is finished and enjoyed by others.”

The Future

The Welling family, Shawn, wife Michelle with their other daughter, LillySky, and EmmaRain, with actor Lee Majors and his wife, actress and model Faith Majors. Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

Shawn’s hopes for EmmaRain in the entertainment business is for whatever makes her happy. “I just want her to be happy. If acting is what she wants to do then I will support her however I can. I was very excited to see three theaters sold out and even show an encore presentation of the film the following day. I thought it was cool to have actor Terry Kiser (Weekend At Bernie’s/The Great American Action Hero) fly in for the film and the event, and to have EmmaRain’s co-star, Lee Majors, (Six Million Dollar Man) sit by her.”
After speaking with Shawn, we turned our attention to EmmaRain who was more than eager to talk with us.

EmmaRain Welling is already an award-winning actress at just four years old. Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

How excited were you going to this event? 

Excited, excited, excited. I wasn’t nervous at all.

Was it a total surprise when you learned about your award? 


How did it make you feel? 

Very, very, very happy!

What were you thinking? 

I was surprised at all the people there.

What does winning this award mean to you?

Lovey and happy.

Describe for us your character, Agent Rain Moss, and how she is different from you – or maybe, in some ways, the same as you. 

Agent Rain is strong, fast and healthy, just like me.

EmmaRain Welling in “Mission from Outer Space.” Photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

What was it like seeing yourself on the big screen?

I liked it. It felt like I was doing all the scenes again.

What was it like working with the other actors on set? 

It felt good. It was fun.

Any advice from the other actors?

Lexie (Alexis Arnold who plays Agent Rain Moss’s sister, Jackie) and Victor (Victor Gelsomino, who plays Commander Alec Solo) helped me with the zombie scene so I wasn’t scared.

What did you like about acting in this film?

I liked fighting the zombies except the noises they made were scary.

Are you looking forward to making more films?


Tell us anything else you would like to say about acting or your recent experience of winning this award.

I like my award. Acting was a lot of standing and sitting for very long times, but it was a lot of fun.

Film Summary

Agent Rain Moss, also known as the 80’s kid, receives a Top Secret message that a beloved alien never made it home. She learns that this well-known alien is being held in a military warehouse, Area 51, and there is underground chatter that the Russians plan to kidnap him. Her mission is to save this alien and send him back home to prevent an intergalactic war. Agent Rain gets Dad to call Dr. Jones (played by Tom Vera) to assist in this black ops mission. Together they fight the Russians and prevent the “higher ups” in US government intelligence from recapturing the alien. Soon the mothership lands and intergalactic peace is restored – for now.

Welling Films 



Cover photo Courtesy Ray Kuglar/Jena Willard.

Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.