Jesse Drwiega has dreamed of working at Disney for most of his life.
“One time I was watching The Country Bears as a kid and I told my mom that one day I was going to work for Disney,” the 28-year-old Red Deerian said on Friday.
“I didn’t know at the time how, what I would be doing or even if that could happen, especially coming from a small place like Red Deer.”
His dream came true this past September, when he became a dancer in the character and parade department at Disneyland Paris in France.
“One of the best days, even better than actually doing this job, was when I got to phone my mom and tell her I got a job offer from Disney,” said Drwiega.
“I’m very fortunate to have been able to land here.”
Drwiega said he has wanted to be a dancer and performer for a long time.
“When I was four years old, my mom took me to my sister’s first tap dance recital. From the moment I first walked into the theatre I was enamoured by the theatre, the stage and everything that was going on, especially when my sister came out and danced,” said Drwiega.
“After that, I begged my mom to put me into tap dance. My sister really was the one who inspired me at a young age to get into performing. I don’t think I’d be here without her and without that moment.”
Drwiega grew up dancing, singing and acting in Red Deer. After graduating from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, he studied in Victoria, B.C., and Toronto, Ont.
While studying in Toronto he made it to the final round of the auditioning process to become a member of the replacement cast for Frozen on Broadway in New York. But during this process, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Broadway performances were shut down.
“I was offered a scholarship to do my Masters in Glasgow, Scotland. I decided it would be a good path because there were no live performances and I wanted to keep learning and keep training,” he said.
After finishing his Masters, he moved to London, England, for a bit before getting the job at Disneyland Paris.
Drwiega said there are a few different professional avenues he could head down in the future.
“I would love to get onto Broadway and auditioning in New York. I really fell in love with London when I was living there, so I’d love to go back there and continue to audition,” said Drwiega.
“I’ve spent the last 10 years getting to perform and study, but eventually I think I’m going to want to come back home to Alberta. I don’t know if that means directing, choreographing and being an artistic director in Calgary or Edmonton. I really love teaching as well, so I could see myself doing that. But while I’m still young, I’d love to keep pounding the pavement as much as I can.”