Welcome to another edition of “People Pulse.” Always hoping to bring you interesting folks doing even more interesting things in the Orlando and Central Florida area, we introduce Jake Rura. Jake is an actor/entertainer at one of the world’s most recognized theme parks (can you guess which one?) in the longest running show in American musical theatre history (more on that later). He recently ventured into video content territory. He also gives a little bit of perspective on what being a performer has meant during this “down time” over the past couple of months. It’s a great read so huge thanks to Jake for playing. And here we go….
Q. What brought you to Orlando, and how long have you lived here?
A. I moved to Orlando, FL May of 2016, so I have been here for just four years. I had a contract in January of 2016 that brought me to do West Side Story at The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, Florida, and ended up falling in love with Central Florida. After I went back to school to graduate (BFA Musical Theatre- Ball State University) I decided to move to Orlando (originally from Fishers, Indiana) and start auditioning for anything and everything.
Q. What’s one of your favorite things about living in Central Florida?
A. It’s cliche, but the weather. I absolutely love the sunshine, and coming from the Midwest where it is gray and cloudy half of the year it is so amazing being outside and active. From an artist’s standpoint, there is sooo much work in Central Florida and it is not just at the theme parks. I fell in love with the amount of creativity and artistry in The City Beautiful.
Q. You are an actor at Walt Disney World at an iconic show – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. What originally attracted and led you to this job?
A. I had been auditioning for Disney since before I decided to move to Orlando. Growing up a 90’s child, it was inherently a part of my life to be obsessed with Disney. After performing at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, I got the call that I would learn Hoop in April of 2018. I was over the moon to learn the longest running show in American musical theatre history. For me, there is a sense of a brotherhood with this show that immediately thrusts you into this historical family. We are just that at Hoop-Dee-Doo, not just a cast, a family, and not having my actual family close to me, that is the most special part of this job.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about working for Disney, and particularly this role?
A. We do three shows a night with guest interaction and improvisation. With that said, from now doing the show for two years, no show is EVER the same. It keeps me on my toes and is exciting to come into work because you never know what to expect. Also, with only six actors in the show, it is very intimate and the connection that we have is so special because we really get to create lasting relationships on and off stage.
Q. What’s been one of the most challenging things about being a performer in a service-oriented market – and even more specifically the past couple of months?
A. The best advice I’ve ever received was, “If there is anything else you want to do in life – do it”. This career is hard–like EXTREMELY HARD–and that remains the same regardless of whatever else is going on in the world. The most beneficial thing about being a performer in a service-oriented market, though, is that there is always a need to be entertained. Right now it is heartbreaking to see so many people and performers out of work. It’s devastating but the silver lining is that when things start coming back, it is my firm belief that people will always want to escape and be entertained- that’s where we come in.
Q. You recently launched your very own personal YouTube channel where you get…well, pretty personal. What inspired you to take to video content, and what’s your goal with it as an outlet?
A. I have wanted to launch my own Jake Rura YouTube channel for awhile now but I made a promise to myself that I was only going to do it when I could fully put in the dedication to making it to my own personal standards. I never want to do something so personal unless my entire heart and soul are in it. So – what better time to do it than now? I have been really learning about photography and videography – it is in my field of work but it is not what I do as a profession. It has been a massive outlet for me to find joy in a hobby and share my creativity but also without the pressure of it being my full time job. My goal is to spread as much positivity and growth with people that need an escape from the stresses of life.
Q. Orlando has “grown up” so much in just a short time. What has been something you’re most surprised about?
A. How expensive rent has gotten – hahaha. No, I am most surprised at how united Orlando remains. After Pulse, the community really came together and as in any tragedy, that was needed. I’m surprised and so grateful that four years later we are just as strong, if not stronger than before.
Q. Do you have any “best kept” secrets for things to do in Orlando and the Central Florida area?
A. Since moving to the downtown area, I have found so many little secret places I like to go. I have found that going to Lake Baldwin, Lake Eola, and Lake Underhill to just go take a lap around is so essential to my mental health. I love just being outside but in a peaceful non populated area. I love finding a quiet little spot on the grass at Lake Eola and surrounded by nature while seeing the skyline in the distance. It’s a nice juxtaposition between how crazy life can be while also enjoying the moment around you.
Q. What’s one thing you’re always sure to do or share with someone’s visiting from out of town?
A. Whenever someone comes to visit I always take them to Yard House at ICON Park. It was the first place I was taken to when I moved to Orlando so now it’s just kind of a cool little spot that means something to me. When people come to visit Orlando -most of them are coming to see me at work. We do go to the parks but I like to take them downtown to all the spots most tourists don’t normally see.
Q. OK – one of our favorite questions: What are your go-to and just-can’t-live-without food places in town?
As you can see, I LOVE going to little spots that are unique to Orlando.
Q. What are some of your favorite places in Orlando to be inspired, or just to be motivated?
A. Like I mentioned, I go to a lot of the central parks and waterfronts in Orlando. I love being outside so anywhere I can take a blanket and a notebook and just be inspired. Winter Park is a great place to go for a walk and/or stop and get some retail therapy done. I especially love being by the water so College Park and Baldwin Park are a nice little oasis that get my creative juices flowing.
Q. What is one thing you personally hope to achieve during the remainder of 2020?
A. My personal growth as an artist. I’m taking this time to set up foundations so that when life starts returning to a new normal that I have invested all of the things I want to accomplish and I can hit the ground running. My YouTube channel has been the biggest in those endeavors.
What did you think? Enjoy getting to know Jake? If you know someone who is “doing their thing” in the Central Florida area and might be a great consideration for an upcoming feature, drop a note telling us who and why using the following form: