Jarrett Poore sees the time honing his acting skills at UCF as more than just performing on stage. He sees it as a way to change the world.
He loves the bright lights – such as when he portrayed the traveling peddler in Oklahoma! at the recent UCF Celebrates the Arts festival – but the graduating senior also wants to support causes in the future that revolve around identity and diversity.
“We can all identify differently, but a unifying bond is what can bring us together,” said the senior musical theater student who has used his training to help advocate change in the community through fundraising and being active in social organizations, especially for LGBTQ+ people and women’s rights.
Last year he directed a fundraising cabaret for The Zebra Coalition that raised $500 to benefit local homeless and troubled LGBTQ+ youth, and he has helped raise more than $3,000 in two benefit concerts organized to help Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
He has worked on other projects including Speech & Debate, a play about three teenagers and their attempts to expose a drama teacher who preys on teen boys, and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, which is about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard.
He also has collaborated with a group to create From Sorrow to Song, a cabaret celebrating composers of Jewish heritage to raise money for Ezra International, a foundation that assists poor Jewish families fleeing from Ukraine.
Poore immerses himself in social causes because “I want to be the best me I can be, and that involves helping others.
“Even when I was young, I always had such a strong urge to be there and help people however I can. Now that I’m older and involved with theatre, I’m a lot more aware of the injustices of the world because so many theatrical artists from different races, creeds, sexualities, religions, etc., all can choose to have their voice heard through performance. I think I am involved in so many causes because there’s so much more to the world than just me.”
The 23-year-old from Melbourne said he long has felt the urge to tell stories in front of the footlights.
“I feel performance is a way to share the stories others want to be told while the performer is allowed to share a piece of their own soul. Performance is catharsis,” he said. “I feel like there are infinite stories to be told, and if I can help tell a handful of important ones in my lifetime, then I will be fulfilled.”
Poore said his experience at UCF has been like holding up a mirror to himself, showing all his qualities that were positive and helping eliminate all the things that would hold him back. He has been cast in a play every semester he has been at UCF – sometimes in multiple shows – which required rehearsals almost every night, usually after classes.
“There is never a time to stop learning, but everyone does it differently,” he said. “Some need to go right away into the world and fly or flounder on their own, while others seek degrees in order to discover and mold who they are before they are released into the real world. UCF has raised the bar for me, helping define my standards more so that I have a better idea of what I want to do with my life, and that for a performer is worth its weight in gold.”
Poore decided to study at UCF after visiting the campus and seeing some of the performances by students that “absolutely mesmerized” him. “Theatre UCF consistently surpassed my expectations, which was something that no other school had done,” he said, adding that his most recent role, the peddler Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!, was his most enjoyable and fulfilling role at UCF.
“Getting to perform on the Walt Disney World Stage at the Dr. Phillips Center was like a dream I never wanted to wake up from,” he said. “What made it special for me was the sheer capacity of collaboration which took place to fulfill this massive undertaking.” There were more than 200 students, faculty and staff members from the music and theatre departments involved in the production, including 50 performers/dancers and more than 70 orchestra members.
“The entire cast, crew, and design team created such a clean, magnificent product that can compare to no other show I’ve done here,” he said. “Plus, hearing 2,500+ people cheer for you nightly and give a standing ovation in a theatre that large will be hard to forget.”
Some of his other memorable performances were as Margaret Mead in Hair and Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet.
Earl D. Weaver, coordinator of musical theatre, who directed Oklahoma!, said Poore is one of the most intelligent, resourceful and gifted students he’s worked with in 30 years of teaching.
“Beyond his natural talent and abilities, he continually strives to learn and grow. He is the consummate professional — always on time and fully prepared,” Weaver said. “His understanding and respect for language is demonstrated in his uncanny ability to find nuance in every word and phrase in his performance work. There is no doubt in my mind we will be seeing Jarrett forging a lucrative performance career within the next 10 years.”
And just what has been Poore’s takeaway from all the roles he’s been?
“A lot of what I learned involved time management, stress and patience,” he said. “As a performer, we have to often time take gigs that can be frustrating or don’t advance our craft in the way we hoped, but we have to be grateful for every opportunity to do what we love to do. So as frustrating as those times can be, I always have to remind myself that all I have control over is my attendance and my preparedness.”
Through the years in some of his outside jobs – such as when he was a barrista – he said he also has learned some skills that he has applied to his acting craft.
“You wouldn’t believe how serious people can get about their coffee,” he said. “It proved for some interesting character work, meeting all sorts of different people. If anything though, it teaches you how to multitask and conflict resolution.”
After he graduates on Thursday, May 4, Poore wants to continue building his professional credits in Central Florida productions and he’s considering graduate school. One day he hopes to teach, possibly at the college level.
“I am very big on wanting to assist the future generation, especially those in need,” he said. “I want to do more, and I hope to do more after graduation since I will not be pulled in 10 different directions.
“I want to teach people about the world, about these causes I believe in, the people I believe in. The most precious commodity we have is time, so to tweak and mold what I want to do in the long run while I was here makes a world of difference. In the end, every show has to end, but when you really put your heart and soul into a character you can always find something that can make you a better person.”
For details about UCF’s six commencement ceremonies May 4-6, click here.