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PASADENA, Calif. -- Though he's been acting since he was 7, Nick Jonas says he still figures he's going to crash and burn with every new role.
"I always think I'm going to be fired the first day of a new job," he says, perched on the edge of a black vinyl couch in a meeting room here.
"Every time I start a new film or TV show or anything, my first reaction is, 'Ah, I'm going to get fired from this.' I've heard from other actors who feel the same way. But it's part of the thing. It either destroys you or makes you great. You gotta lean toward letting it make you great, but not losing your mind in the process," he says.
In fact, Jonas has been executing a balancing act between life and work since he was a little boy growing up in New Jersey. His first real prominence came not as an actor, but as a musician-songwriter with his two older brothers and their popular band, the Jonas Brothers.
He says there's no discord between his love of acting and his passion for music. "I'm really fortunate to not have to choose so far in my career. Besides designating a certain amount of time for each project, there hasn't come a situation where it was one or the other. The music, I'm somewhat flexible because I create my own schedule there. And on the film side, I can work my music around film and television. So there's no conflict. On a creative level I think they really complement each other."
While he's costarred in shows like "Scream Queens," "Hawaii Five-O," and in the Disney Channel series with his brothers, "Jonas," it's his role as the conflicted martial arts contender in the AT&T Audience Network's series, "Kingdom," that really tests him.
"I was sent the script by my agent. I said, 'I'd really LOVE to go and read for this.' And he said, 'Well, I'll float your name, but I think coming from where we're coming from '
At that time people associated him with the Disney Channel show and as a member of the band. "My brothers and I had reached a really high level of success, but we were at a really dull moment and had just broken up," he recalls, crossing his legs at the knee and leaning back. "So it was not the best moment to hire Nick Jonas.
"But thankfully I put my head down and went to work. I worked with my acting coach and prepared for this audition. And I got called back and called back again, and eventually I ended up in a chemistry (test) with Frank Grillo."
Grillo plays Jonas' tough and demanding father who runs the gym where the MMA combatants prepare for battle. "From what I've heard now, they said that I was the best in the room and even though it was a difficult casting because they didn't feel that I was necessarily the one that made the most sense, they knew it was the right call. I'm grateful they cast me," he nods.
That was a tough time for the 24-year-old. His "band of brothers" had dissembled because of differences, and he felt adrift. "I was not so much scared," he says, "I was really frustrated. At that point in my life, I was 21, and I was anxious to prove myself as an adult -- anxious to be given a real shot. There had been other projects that I was desperate to be part of that fell apart because of my last name. That was a theme for about a year and a half. So I think I reached that wall where I was just tired of shut doors and thankfully this one stayed open."
Jonas' determination to become an entertainer began when he was a kid and was prompted by a playbill his parents had brought home from the musical "Les Miserables." He was inspired to see children among the cast, and vowed he would be one of them someday.
"I kinda felt the goals were within me, always," says Jonas who's wearing a black suit and black T-shirt.
"I always had a real clear vision that I wanted to be in entertainment on some level. It started for me on Broadway which was the best place to grow as a young performer, and then transitioning naturally into recording music and touring. But it wasn't something where I had to really sit down and write it and manifest it. For some people being a child actor is their worst regret, but for me it set me up into being an adult in this and to be a part of people's lives from an early age and get them some familiarity," he says.
"A lot of doors that were wide open. A lot of opportunities that were amazing -- doing shows and working with great people, talented people -- but when I was on Broadway I wanted to be in films. And there's always more. Those were the obstacles. As time went on, it was always about the next thing and how to continue to grow. I think that's still there, but I've learned to balance a little bit and to appreciate some of the victories."
The final season of "Kingdom" is available on AT&T's Audience Network, AT&T U-verse, and the new streaming service DIRECTV NOW.