Jamie Mann talks ‘Country Comfort’

courtesy of Netflix

Jamie Martin Mann is the ultimate triple threat and can be seen acting, dancing and singing in Netflix’s upcoming music themed show Country Comfort, opposite Katharine McPhee and Eddie Cibrian. 

The comedy series follows an aspiring young country singer named Bailey (McPhee), whose career and personal life gets derailed so, she takes on a nannying job for a rugged cowboy named Beau (Cibrian) and his five children. Jamie portrays his second oldest child Brody, an endearingly awkward teen whose voice and dance moves are his only way to overcome his tongue-tied attempts to land a first date. 

Photo credit: Curtis & Cort Photography

From 2015 to 2016, Jamie starred as Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot the Musical (Maltz Jupiter in FL, The Fulton in PA, Company Theatre in MA and the Palace in NH) and his career just went up from there! Jamie has danced with the New York City Ballet in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Harlequinade; with Alvin Ailey at the Apollo Theater; and as the Prince in The Nutcracker at Westport Country Playhouse. 

A philanthropist at heart, Jamie produced his own virtual cabaret benefit in 2020, recruiting Broadway stars to help raise over $5,000 for actor/screenwriter and activist Obi Ndefo, who lost both his legs when he was hit by a car. From Westport, Connecticut, Jamie splits his time between Los Angeles and his hometown outside of New York City.

What sparked your love of dance?

Jamie: I lived in Spain for five years and I remember when I was around three, I saw a production of Swan Lake, that they were doing in Madrid, in Retiro Park. And though I don’t really remember it, my mom said that I was completely mesmerized and drawn into it when she looked over to me. And then she looked over to my dad on the other side of her and he was sound asleep. So, I think that was probably the moment when I realized, not really when I realized I wanted to be dancer, but that my subconscious and just my person became kind of excited by the prospect of becoming a dancer and just how beautiful the new art form it was…I think Alvin Ailey opened me up to the many different kinds of dance forms that there are, but I started with ballet and I think ballet has been an anchor for the rest of my dancing.

Is ballet still your favorite genre?

Jamie: Yeah. I love it for a ton of reasons. I think it’s super foundational so when it comes to trying to learn other types of dance, ballet can literally help with any kind of dance that you’re trying to practice. Ballet puts so much emphasis on strengthening your core and your balance and I think that that translates to every other type of dance that you could possibly think of. So, that’s one of the reasons I love it is because it’s so foundational and it completely translates to all the other types of dance that there are. And I think that that is what has helped me to kind of immerse myself in the other styles because I had this sort of ground training that I could utilize.

How would you say ballet has helped you with your acting?

Jamie: What’s super fun so special about dance is that it’s telling a story through movement and the only thing you really have to work with are your emotions. I think that dance really helps because I’ve learned how to express emotion through pure body movement. And so, once I kind of understood that concept, going into acting, I had a better understanding of how to utilize emotion in order to tell a story. I think dance really helped me to transition into acting because I had that idea of utilizing pure emotion in a scene which can be one of the most powerful and anchoring aspects of acting.

What initially inspired you to start auditioning for acting roles like Billy Elliot?
Photo credit: Curtis & Cort Photography

Jamie: Oh, quite honestly, it was one of the first shows I ever saw on Broadway and I remember sitting in the theater at the age of like seven and, well, I don’t know if you know the show Billy Elliot but it’s got a lot of mature content in there. So it was funny to think back and think ‘wow, I was going to shows like Billy Elliot at the age of seven, that was kind of funny.’ But I remember being in that theater and I felt this, and it sounds cliche, but I really wanted to be on the stage, I really did. I wanted to be up there. I wanted to be doing what all the actors were doing and dancing and being a part of a production like that. And again, it sounds cliche, but it really was how I felt. I just wanted to be up there with them. So I honestly think that Billy Elliot The Musical inspired me to become an actor and a dancer and a singer. I had only been dancing at that point so once I saw that show I started acting. I met with an agent and immersed myself in musical theater. That’s kind of how I got into musical theater. 

Then when I was in sixth grade, I auditioned for my first production of Billy Elliot. I auditioned in sixth grade and then I booked it in seventh grade. It was at the Maltz Jupiter theater in Florida, and that was really the first chance I got to be in a professional production. It was so special that my first professional production was Billy Elliot, because it really was my dream role. I really wanted to play that part so I felt really lucky that I got to experience that and do that as the first show that I ever did. Yeah, I felt really lucky. And I think that Billy Elliot was also so influential to just kind of the path that I eventually went on. The fact that I saw it when I was seven and then did it when I was 12 was, I think really awesome that kind of that it all came together in that way. 

That feeling of wanting to go on stage was so clear and so powerful.

What inspired you to step away from the the stage and theatre and kind of go into more TV acting?

Jamie: I guess when I started, I’ve always kind of auditioned for everything. I’m near New York in Connecticut so theater, I think, is much more influential in this part of the country, I guess, and so I’ve always kind of auditioned for film and TV but I’ve never really gotten the chance to act in film productions. I just happened to get the chance to play this part, and there’s a live audience so that was super nice that there were a lot of aspects of this specific production that were connected to theater so things like. In fact, there’s a live audience, which I really resonate with and that I think helps me act and especially going from musical theater into film and TV. But then, the show is built with music and singing and even dancing so that was such a nice kind of transition as it was so connected to musical theater. The transition was so much easier because I had so many people to look up to and that I could kind of follow as role models. I mean, working with people like Kat [McPhee] and Eddie [Cibrian] was such an incredible experience because they’re such incredible artists and they’re so professional and so driven and I could kind of just follow their example. All of those things kind of helped to allow me to transition more gracefully into that side of the entertainment business.

So we’ll get to see you sing and dance right?

Jamie: Yeah!

You play Brody on Country Comfort, how would you describe Brody?

Jamie: Brody is the second oldest in the family of five. He’s a really innocent kid. I think he’s a little bit more quiet when compared to the other kids in the family at times, unless he feels really desperate to say something or he really feels strongly about something but otherwise I think he kind of acts as a mediator amongst his siblings. He’s definitely a little bit insecure because he has this older brother, Tuck, who’s kind of the hot one and is really confident and gets all the girls. So, I think he tries to follow Tuck’s lead but sometimes that doesn’t work out. I think that he’s kind of goofy, and he’s a little bit of a klutz, which is very fun and again kind of ties into that innocent factor where he tries his best but sometimes it doesn’t work out. I think importantly he’s a really good brother to his siblings. Because their mother passed away, he and Tuck sometimes kind of have to step into this parental position and take care of their siblings. He’s a really good big brother in that way. Throughout the season, we kind of get to see him find some self-confidence and grow as a person and it’s been really fun to kind of discover that and go on that journey with him. 

courtesy of Netflix
What is one thing that you’re really excited for people to see in this show?

Jamie: I’m really excited for people to see the family that we’ve created. We even took a week before we started filming to kind of just meet each other and find sort of a family dynamic amongst all the actors. And I think we really do love each other so much, both on camera and off, so I’m really excited for people to see that aspect of the show- the family and the love that all the characters feel for each other because I really do love all of my costars, everyone was so nice and wonderful to work with. 

Are the songs in the show something that people will recognize, or are they completely new?

Jaime: We’ve got a little bit of a mix. We definitely have some pretty catchy country tunes that I’m sure everybody will know and then we also have some amazing original songs that were written for the show, so it’s a little bit of a combination of both. I think that’s what was also really fun is that there are certain songs that you kind of already know, so you have inspiration when you’re performing them and then there are other songs that you’re learning and no one’s ever performed before. It’s really fun to kind of have a combination of the two.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about Country Comfort?

Jamie: We’ve worked really hard to create a loving family and we really love each other so I’m just really excited for everybody to see it and I hope they fall in love with all my cast members in the family as much as I did… I’m also really excited to kind of share some of my behind-the-scenes photos and funny videos that I have my Instagram is @jamiemartinmann, so I’m probably going to be posting some pictures like that on there.

courtesy of Netflix
Country Comfort premieres on on Netflix this Friday, March 19.