Jarred Manista Goes From Young Actor in Milwaukee to the Stages of NYC

UPAF | November 21, 2019
Jarred Manista
You are helping young people in Milwaukee discover their careers in the performing arts through your support of UPAF. Jarred Manista's involvement in the Milwaukee performing arts scene has led him to a Broadway stage in the upcoming Broadway revival of West Side Story.
Read on to learn about how Jarred's experiences in the Milwaukee performing arts scene have set him up for success in NYC.
Tell us a little about yourself and how the performing arts became a part of your life.
I am eighteen years old and recently moved to New York City after growing up in Milwaukee. The arts have always been of interest to me; I have wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember, and have danced since I was a young child. My first introduction to musicals and theatre was Disney's animated musical movies. These movies sparked my interest in singing, dancing and acting. I also attended many live 
Jarred as Jack Kelly in Disney's Newsies at 
Dominican High School
performances in Milwaukee as a kid, particularly at First Stage, and I fell in love with the theatre. My sister has also been involved in theater, participating in a few productions in high school, and everyone in my family has played a musical instrument. Our entire family enjoys the arts scene; it is a common interest that brings us all together.  
What has your involvement been with the performing arts in Milwaukee and how did it help in honing your craft?
First Stage was the first place that I received any acting training. I started in the Summer Academy at age 5 or 6, became hooked on theatre and always wanted to learn more. I also participated in four productions at First Stage - The Thief Lord, My Son Pinocchio, Junie B. Jones, and Shrek the Musical - and I looked forward every year to the next auditions. First Stage was an amazing community for me growing up, and it nurtured my growth as a performer as well as a person. Without First Stage, I'm not sure when or how I would have been introduced to theatre. First Stage also gave me my first performance opportunities, providing insight into how a play is produced and staged and allowing me to experience live theatre.
Jarred as Baby John in Lyric Opera of Chicago's West Side Story
In third grade, I took my first hip hop class, which was at Danceworks; this was the impetus for ten years of dance training. Danceworks was the place where I started dancing seriously, so it gave me my first foundational dance skills.
I recently had the pleasure of being a Nicest Kid in Skylight Music Theatre's production of Hairspray. It was a blessing to be part of such an energetic, uplifting show with such a talented cast. This experience further taught me how a production is put on and gave me great insights about the rigors of being a professional actor. It was an intense experience that required me to balance school, work and to be more intentional about taking care of my body and voice.   
What brought you to New York City and what are your future plans there?
Last year, I saw that the West Side Story Broadway Revival was holding auditions for dancers. I decided to audition and ended up booking the show. I am a swing - which means I cover multiple roles - for the Jets in the show. Previews begin on December 10 and opening night is February 6. I deferred going to NYU this Fall in order to participate in this production, as it is a full-time commitment. I look forward to attending college at some point in the future to obtain my degree. I enjoy learning - and for now I will do that through on the job experience.