Jamie Martin Mann discusses his starring in the Netflix comedy series Country Comfort, which stars former American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee in the lead role. The cast also includes Eddie Cibrian, Ricardo Hurtado and more.
In the series, Jamie plays the role of “Brody”, a series regular and the second oldest of five kids. Katharine McPhee plays the role of “Bailey”, their new, reluctant nanny.
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Jamie Martin Mann (JMM): Of course, it’s great to be here.
You are one of the stars of the new Netflix series, Country Comfort which premiered on March 19. Could you explain the premise and your character Brody to anyone who is unfamiliar?
JMM: Well, the premise of the show is basically this country singer named Bailey (played by Katharine McPhee). She’s kicked out of her band, driving along the road and gets stranded in front of this ranch, where a bunch of kids live. They take her in, she becomes their new nanny.
I’m one of the five kids in the family, “Brody”, the second oldest. We have a lot of fun, she reintroduces music into their lives. Their mother passed away. After she passed, one of the siblings had a really hard time listening or being around music, because it reminded her of their mother. Bailey helps to reintroduce music into their lives, it’s really fun and sweet. We have a really great time in the show in that world, but also filming it on set.
Brody is the second oldest in the family like I said. He’s a very innocent kid, kind of sensitive, but in a cute innocent way. He’s a little bit insecure because his older brother is kind of the hot one of the family. He gets all the girls, very confident. Brody’s always trying to follow in his footsteps. When he does that, he ends up acting a little goofier than expected and being a bit of a klutz, which is very funny.
In the end, he’s a very good brother to his siblings, he and Tuck (Ricardo Hurtado) both, after their mother’s passing. Beau, their father, is played by Eddie Cibrian, who’s amazing. Beau kind of asks them to step into a parental role. I had a lot of fun playing Brody because, throughout the season, he found self-confidence and grows as a person. So, going on that journey with him, I had a really amazing time. It ended up being so much, a lot more fun than I could ever imagine.
Compared to your past auditions, how was the process of landing the role on Country Comfort?
JMM: This audition process was really fun. I attribute a lot of that to Caryn Lucas, our showrunner. She’s such a warm and wonderful person to be around. She made it a very comfortable experience. I had two auditions in New York City because I’m in Connecticut, closer to NYC than LA. The first time I went in actually, I went in for Tuck. Then the second time I went in for Brody and sang for Caryn and one of the producers.
Then, they called and told me they wanted me to fly out to LA for a chemistry read. I had never been to California before, so that was a really exciting experience. During that process, I ended up meeting Pyper Braun, who plays Chloe, the youngest sibling. Then, I actually met Ricardo Hurtado at that reading as well. Also, Katharine McPhee was there for a bit of time as well. I got to meet a few of my castmates during that audition and it was super fun. Caryn was so wonderful, she made it so comfortable. We kind of just got to have a good time.
I remember leaving that audition like, “Frankly, I don’t even care if I get the part at this point. That was just an incredible experience.” Obviously, I wanted the part so badly because it’s amazing. I was just to happy to have gotten the experience to meet new people and work a little bit with Caryn, because everybody was so wonderful.
What are some similarities or differences between Brody and yourself, Jamie, in real life?
JMM: I think we’re similar in a lot of ways. We both have three younger siblings, I have three younger siblings as well. So, I was definitely able to bring some of that to the table, especially in conversations or scenes with all the siblings. I felt very comfortable in those scenes, I could absolutely relate. I think I used to be way more self conscious than I am now. I could take the experiences that I’ve had being self-conscious, learning who I am as a person and apply that to Brody’s character, which was really fulfilling in a lot of ways.
I don’t know, I think me and Brody are similar, we both like music. Brody’s a little bit of a dancer and I’m a dancer as well. Yeah, a lot of different things. His innocence, his ethics are very, very similar to mine. It made playing that character a lot simpler and more comfortable because we do have a lot of similarities.
As some may know, Country Comfort is a comedy. How much do you enjoy working in this genre?
JMM: Comedy’s so fun, especially in a sitcom environment because one of the wonderful aspects about our producers is that they were very flexible. So, if we had any questions, it was very easy to go up to them and be like: “Okay, how do you want this read?” or, “What is my intention on this line?” Anything to help get the joke across more effectively. Even if we had done a take and they didn’t like the line reading, they’d be like: “Throw another line in there if you have to.”
That was really cool, to get to work on that. I think comedy is so much fun because 1) it’s very hilarious because it’s comedy and 2) it kind of requires a different set of thinking in terms of approaching a scene. You have to think about being grounded as an actor and staying real, but also make sure the joke comes across as funny as the writers intended. Finding the balance between those two aspects of being in the show was definitely a challenge, but a challenge I was really happy to get to take on.
It got easier as we went along and I thought that was fun, to have these really funny lines. The show’s hilarious, our writers are geniuses. It made it that much easier to make their lines funny. They just were funny inherently.
From an acting perspective, how long did it take to develop an on-screen bond with the other cast members, such as Katharine McPhee and Eddie Cibrian?
JMM: One of the really awesome aspects of the show was that we had a week before we even started filming – usually we’d film on the Thursday-Friday of the week. We had a whole week where we were just rehearsing. It was really nice because all the kids got to meet each other during that week and get super close. By the time we got on set and were actually filming scenes, we all knew each other super well.
I think that had a lot to do with the dynamic we had onscreen. Every single one of the kids in that family, pretty much everyone in the family, we all loved each other. We all had so much fun on set. We all care about each other, so bringing that onscreen was so much easier because it was real. That’s how we felt. I’m still so close with Griffin, Shiloh, Pyper and Ricardo.
Obviously, with Katharine and Eddie, they were kind of like the ringleaders, the two professionals. They’re incredible actors and really know what they’re doing. It’s nice to have some professionals on there that led the pack so to speak and we could follow in their footsteps. And, yeah, we just love each other. It was so easy to bring that aspect of that family theme to a scene, because we had that time to get to know each other.
Caryn Lucas created Country Comfort and wrote several episodes. What did you most enjoy about Caryn’s writing and collaborating with her on this project?
JMM: I think what you said, it was the collaboration that really excited me. She was so open to discussing anything with us. I was on projects before where it is a little closed off. That table between you and the writers. Sometimes it’s awkward, there are boundaries you don’t want to cross. Caryn was so willing to talk to us. If we had any questions, even if a line felt uncomfortable and we didn’t want to say it. She was so willing to work with us.
I felt so blessed because there have been experiences in the past because the boundary… there’s definitely a wall there. You feel like you can’t cross it. We were all very close with the writers, all kind of connected. We were so much more comfortable producing good TV because we felt comfortable on set, so we didn’t have that tension. Again, that collaboration I think brings a whole other level to the TV show that we produced. We all loved the lines we were saying and felt very comfortable within the scenes. It was nice to know you had that option, to ask any questions that you could because they were really open to that.
How would you describe the experience of being an actor to anyone who was curious?
JMM: I think that for anyone going into the theatre world, I feel like I’ve learned this about myself recently. It’s ‘enjoy the endeavor’. The work that you put in, find the joys in that. The success comes in waves and it’s not always going to be there. You always have little mini successes. Go to acting class, feel good about a scene or go to a voice lesson and learn something new about your voice that you never did before. Go to dance class and work on your technique.
Take pride in that, so when an opportunity arises, you have enough confidence to go into it and say, “Well, I have been doing all this, first of all. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am. Now, I can come onto this project and feel fulfilled in the smaller things.” Obviously, when you get something, it’s super exciting. But, that excitement isn’t enough to carry you for a long period of time. You have to find the joy in the small things.
I didn’t get anything for five years. It was five years where I was going to auditions and not hearing anything back. That was really hard, but I developed resilience. I realize looking back, I met so many people through the training I was doing at that time. So yeah; find the joy in the work that you put in and don’t allow yourself to only expect to get stuff all the time. You have to be realistic, you have to think: “Okay, I’m probably not going to get something right now, but I’m going to go to class, continue training and be the best I can be. So, when I go into an audition, they’ll like me even more.”
Keep at it, it’s a hard world but it forces you to be resilient and I think that’s a really good character trait. They always say, ‘an actor has to be as optimistic as you possibly can be.’ So, also remember that optimism. Mainly, find the joy in the endeavor, I’d say. I only really learned that recently. I’m only 17, so that’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Aside from Country Comfort, are there any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
JMM: Well, nothing’s coming up right now. I’ve been doing some shows at my school, which have been really fun. Obviously, COVID’s caused a couple of blockades so to speak, in terms of the Arts. I have a really awesome theatre program at my school and I’m really close with all my friends there. I’m kind of focusing on school and living life as normally as I possibly can.
I’m trying to make the most of what we have right now, I’m a Senior in High School. Seeing my friends as much as I safely can. You know, just enjoy myself. I’m getting ready for the show to come out, it’s very exciting. I can’t wait.
For people who want to keep up with your career or you personally, how could they do that?
JMM: Absolutely, I’m on Facebook, it’s either @jamiemann or @jamiemartinmann. On Instagram, it’s @jamiemartinmann. I have a Twitter, but I’m really bad at it, so I’ll try to get better at Twitter. That’s also @jamiemartinmann. Yeah, Instagram’s mainly where I’m at. So, if you can follow my Instagram, that would be great. I’m probably going to post a bunch of ‘Behind the Scenes’, once the show comes out. I’m very excited about that.
What do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
JMM: I don’t know… I hope that I get the vaccine! That’s not really an accomplishment, but I’m hoping I get an opportunity to do that soon. I don’t know, I hope to continue living life and making the most of everything. I’m going to graduate High School… I’m hoping we get a second season. To get to go back to work, that would be amazing. I’m just kind of living life.
Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. Take care and stay safe!
JMM: Absolutely, thank you so much for having me. Have a wonderful day!