Actor and dancer Jamie Mann is currently starting in the new Netflix series Country Comfort. The new sitcom premiered this month and stars Katharine McPhee in the family musical comedy series. Jamie Mann plays Brody, one of five siblings. In real life, Jamie is a dancer and has performed as Billy Elliot off-Broadway. His journey has taken him from being one of the only boys in his ballet classes to transitioning to a musical/comedy Netflix series. Here, Jamie Mann shares his experience in entertainment with YEM.
Young Entertainment Mag: Your show Country Comfort premiered on Netflix March 19. How exciting is that?
Jamie Mann: I absolutely cannot wait! We had so much fun bringing to life this wonderful family oriented show created by the brilliant Caryn Lucas. The family theme in this show is definitely what I am most excited for everyone to see. The cast worked really hard to develop an authentic family dynamic and I think we absolutely succeeded. I love every member of my cast on screen and off, which is reflected in our performances. It’s also exciting to play a role that hasn’t been played before and have a hand in developing the character.
YEM: Your character uses his voice and dance to express himself and help him get through situations. How can this help others who might feel awkward and unable to express themselves?
Jamie: This is one aspect of Brody I definitely relate to. Sometimes it can be hard to understand the emotions you are feeling. They can be complicated and music at least for me helps me gain control of my thoughts. I believe music connects melody and sentimentality and often I will listen to it when I am feeling any strong emotion from elation to depression. Brody feels less tongue tied singing rather than talking, especially with girls. If you have a special talent, show it off!
YEM: Do you think that you relate to your character Brody in any ways?
Jamie: I relate to Brody in lots of different ways. During middle school I had a really hard time finding my self-confidence, so that was definitely a feeling that I brought to the character. Also, I am full of energy (some compare my liveliness to a toddler’s) and sometimes that comes out in goofy spurts which Brody has as well. I am an older brother just like Brody. I squabble with my siblings a lot, but I’m also protective of them, like Brody is.
YEM: Before this show you were performing on stage and doing a lot of dancing, how was that transition for you?
Jamie: It was definitely a crazy change because so many aspects of theater production are different from TV production. However, because this show is a sitcom it involves a live audience (at least before Covid). So that made the transition much more comfortable. Not to mention there is dancing and singing in the show, which was all familiar because of my theater background. I felt really lucky because this show was about as similar to theater as it gets. We performed to an audience but we had the luxury of multiple takes—it’s the best of both worlds.
YEM: Has dancing and being on stage prepared you for being on a show such as Country Comfort?
Jamie: I think it really has. Being onstage for most of my childhood taught me work ethic, professionalism, and how to be “on” through hours of rehearsals or eight shows a week. So I was able to bring these work habits to the set of Country Comfort. Dancing definitely teaches discipline, and it’s also something I love. It is awesome to land a TV role in which I can use my musical theater skills!
YEM: How did you get into performing?
Jamie: I think that performing has always been in my body. My mom said that I had a compulsion to dance whenever music was playing, from the time I could walk. There are pictures of me performing at the age of three in front of a street band in South Beach, Florida, with a pair of maracas in my hand and a crowd of people standing around watching. I had my first ballet class in second grade and that’s when I first started performing on stage in more sophisticated productions.
YEM: You grew up being one of the only boys in your ballet classes, can you talk a little more about what that was like for you?
Jamie: I honestly don’t remember a lot about the repercussions in terms of bullying. I just remember feeling a little left out when my friends wanted to play sports and I really wasn’t interested. I remember that being the only boy in class was uncomfortable; however, I also think that overcoming that discomfort helped grow my passion. In my classes locally, I was almost always the only boy. But I branched out and took classes at Alvin Ailey on Saturdays during elementary school and at School of American Ballet daily during middle school. At those schools, I danced in classes full of boys, which was awesome and inspiring.
YEM: What is the biggest difference when it comes to working on stage for a live show and doing a musical comedy series?
Jamie: I think the biggest difference is the cameras and the takes. One aspect of this process that has made it much more comfortable is the option to have multiple takes. This means that you can relax into the lines more because you know that messing up is still an option. The other big difference for sure is the four cameras that are filming the scene. Multi-camera shows are a little bit harder in terms of eye-line because you have fewer places to look. So getting used to staring outward between the cameras was definitely a hurdle.
YEM: Being a triple threat, how important do you think it is for people to be involved in the performing arts?
Jamie: I think the performing arts is responsible for many incredible aspects of my life. So many of my best friends I met through performing. The opportunities I have had in life have all come from facets of the arts world. I think that overall the arts community is such a wonderful one because it fosters such a diverse group of people. Producing a performance of any size involves people working on multiple small projects that come together in the end as one large spectacle. That part of performing is the most fulfilling and why I think everyone should at least try to get involved in the performing arts in some capacity and experience being part of that magic.
YEM: What are some of your dream roles?
Jamie: I’ve always wanted to play Fiero in Wicked. I am absolutely obsessed with that show and that role. I would love to play Jamie in The Last Five Years.