“You feel like you are on top of the world. Nothing but love and happiness surrounds you. Everyone involved in the performance, be it the audience, other cast members, musicians, crew, are all in it together,” muses 25 year old Jon Rua who is enjoying the rarefied air of success as he performs in the Tony Award winning musical In the Heights.
“No words need to be communicated and yet we all understand each other. It’s an energy that consumes us all. It’s bliss. It’s like the human race becomes one team,” said Rua, who began his academic career studying business at Rutgers University, but realized early on that whatever he was going to do for a living, it would have to be something for which he felt passion.
“We all have one body, one life to live, and our individuality is the most precious gift we have. Through the arts, I can do something, live in a moment that will be like no other in history. Therefore, I can create history. I want to bring not only my artistic work and creation, but the message that you can do what you want,” said Rua.
Rua also serves as the understudy to the lead, choreographs for the New Jersey Nets Dancers, a dance team that includes his long-time girlfriend Becky Smith, and appears in commercials and television programs such as Law and Order.
Prior to landing on Broadway, Rua experienced moments when he wondered if he was on the right path. “It was hard to get out of these slumps. My savior was music,” said Rua. Remembering why he chose performing and working hard to be happy with his own performance, also kept him focused and committed. “I grew as a performer and success came. But it will always be a work in progress and you have to acknowledge that in this industry, you never have complete control,” said Rua.
Rua credits his parents’ hard work and encouragement to stay true to who he was and what he wanted to do. “They sacrificed their lives to better mine,” said Rua.
In addition to traveling, backpacking, and the support and guidance of his parents, he attributes his perspective to what he has learned from growing up in New Jersey. “It wasn’t until I got out of the city recently from doing eight shows a week and landed in the green parkland of Northwest Jersey that I realized how New Jersey and my identity are one in the same. I am prepared for everything and anything in life, be it people, situations, landscapes, demographics, terrain, and more. I like to think that New Jersey provides its sons and daughters the opportunity to approach life with an open mind,” said Rua.
While maintaining ties to family and friends, the former resident of Linden and Basking Ridge, appreciates living in New Jersey with its easy access to the world of opportunity in New York. “Now I reside in Jersey City which is perfect for me and provides a great balance. I still have access to New Jersey and all that it offers and I can be in the city in a matter of minutes with the swipe of a Path card.”