Jamie Mann plays with his "Country Comfort" band. From left to right, Mann, Eddie Cibrian, Katherine McPhee, Pyper Braun, Ricardo Hurtado, Janet Varney and Shiloh Verrico. Photo courtesy of Netflix
LOS ANGELES, March 19 (UPI) -- In the Netflix sitcom Country Comfort, Katharine McPhee plays a struggling singer who ends up being the nanny for a talented family band. Jamie Mann, who plays a teenage singer on the show, hopes Country Comfort inspires young viewers to pursue their dreams as he did.
"I really hope that kids who watch our show find that their passion is valid and that they should continue doing it," Mann told UPI in a phone interview.
The 17-year-old has already had a career in dance and on stage. Country Comfort is his first series regular role on television.
Beau (Eddie Cibrian)'s kids mistake Bailey (McPhee) for their new nanny when she comes to their door looking for assistance one rainy night. Bailey is desperate so she takes the job anyway.
Beau has five children: Tuck (Ricardo Hurtado), Brody (Mann), Dylan (Griffin McIntyre), Cassidy (Shiloh Verrico) and Chloe (Pyper Braun). The kids have struggled with their music since the death of their mother.
"Brody's definitely a little bit insecure," Mann said. "He's trying to find his self-confidence and he's growing as a person."
Mann said he never doubted his own passions. Although he was too young to remember it himself, Mann said his mother, Jill, reports he discovered ballet when he saw a production of Swan Lake at age 3.
"My mom said that she looked over to me and I was so laser-focused on watching these dancers," Mann said. "From that moment, I think subconsciously there was this really strong desire and passion to become a dancer."
Jill enrolled Jamie in ballet school at Ballet Etudes in Westport, Conn. Mann trained at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for three years, where he learned tap and West African dance styles.
Jamie danced with Greenwich Ballet Academy in Greenwich, Conn., and School of American Ballet in New York City. He also spent one summer at Boston Ballet.
In New York, Jamie also appeared in New York City Ballet productions including The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. He played Billy Elliot in touring productions of the musical.
At dance schools, Jamie said his mentors included Fame dancer Cynthia Gibb. Jamie said that when his classmates were playing soccer, mentors like Gibb encouraged him to stay focused on his passions.
"So many mentors taught me that being unique is better than being the norm, especially if it's what you like to do," Mann said. "I never wavered in my decision to continue acting, dancing and singing."
The roles of Brody and his siblings required actors with musical ability. The show includes many interludes where they perform together or individually.
For his Country Comfort audition, Jamie said he performed "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.
"I thought I'd go in and sing something a little different," Mann said. "I just love that song. It's funny and why not?"
Once Jamie got the role, Country Comfort added scenes in which he could display his skills. In the show's third episode, Brody and Tuck perform at a wedding.
"They let me choreograph that whole little thing," Mann said. "I tried to get some of those Elvis dances in there. They gave me a lot of free rein with that."
Mann is finishing his senior year of high school this year. He is considering college in the future, but not immediately.
For now, his television career is just getting started with Country Comfort.
"I'm very excited for kids to see a family and a group of kids singing, dancing and having fun performing," Mann said. "I think our loving family and family dynamic is also such a wonderful thing we bring to the entertainment table."
Country Comfort premieres Friday on Netflix.