As part of the hit pop-rock group Jonas Brothers and the Disney Channel series Jonas, Joe Jonas was a teen heartthrob. But since the dissolution of both, he has been working to change the squeaky-clean image that was part and parcel of being a Disney star and expand his horizons into other areas of showbiz.
Right now, that means taking on the challenges presented by NBC's I Can Do That, in which six entertainers — Cheryl Burke, Ciara, Jonas, Nicole Scherzinger, comedian Jeff Dye and Alan Ritchson — will be presented with a brand-new skill each week, which they have to master in five days with the aid of a coach. They then will compete in a showcase, performing the new ability, and a live audience will pick the winner.
While Jonas doesn't want to reveal exactly what these new skills are other than to say he's done some heavy lifting — "I've been surprised by my strength" — and learned some aerial work, some magic, as well as done some roller skating, he does say, "There's only a week to learn something very challenging. I feel like there's been certain things in my life, like touring and being on awards shows, that have helped me become the quick learner that I am. You don't realize that that just becomes normal for you."
Jonas says he was doing some soul searching about what he wanted to do next when he was approached about joining the cast of I Can Do That. At first he was skeptical about doing an unscripted show, but after a conversation with his manager, they decided it would be a good thing because it would display his personality.
"I have music that I'm going to be releasing this year, and I was speaking with my manager and some friends and they're like, 'Dude, you should just showcase who you are. People really like that,'" Jonas says. He took the words to heart and isn't regretting it. "I'm so glad I went on the show because it's like a workshop in a way, where we're going into these situations and you can't half-ass it. You have to give your all, and you end up being really, really happy with the outcome."
Not letting the public get a true idea of who he is, is one of the regrets that Jonas has when he looks back at his career. Back during the JoBro days, he says he was guarded because he was afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. These days, he says there isn't much he won't talk about. Now, he says, his life is an open book.
Toward that end, Jonas utilizes social media as a tool to keep the pages of that book turning. With more than 7.5 million Twitter followers [@joejonas], he has a lot of people willing to read what he has to say.
"I'm private about very small things about my life, like relationships, but I feel like I am who I am," he says. "I know that I'm a fun guy, and I like to showcase my personal life. Some people like to have mystery to themselves, and you really can't figure out who they are. I like to show people my personality, my humor. The same pictures and videos I would send to a friend, I just send to the world. I'm like, 'Hey, check it out. This is what I like. This is what I think is funny. Hopefully, you find it funny.' So far so good."
One unexpected outcome that has resulted from I Can Do That was an invitation from his TV competitor Ciara for Jonas to sing on the dance version of her "I Bet" single, which was released earlier this month.
"I'm thrilled to be a part of it and I love that song," Jonas says. But for fans who want him to follow in brother Nick's footsteps and release his own music, he says, "I'm writing and recording my stuff right now. I've kind of been in and out of the studio and taking my time, so, hopefully, you'll hear something soon from me."
Life after the Jonas Brothers isn't as hectic as it used to be, but that is all well and good as far as Jonas is concerned. He needed time to adjust to the new stage of his life.
"I think at first it was really confusing," he says. "It was a little bit scary because it was all you've known for 10 to 15 years and then you take that step back, and you go, 'Okay, what's next?' We were really busy doing what we loved, but there were other things, other interests that we've never been able to try."
Among those other interests was the opening of his first restaurant. Located in Santa Monica, Calif., it's called Hinterland and serves "new American seasonal coastal cuisine." He also says his less hectic schedule allowed him to find a house of his own to live in, and he still has plenty of time to visit with family.
As for whether or not the Jonas Brothers might someday follow in the footsteps of other famous boy bands — like the Backstreet Boys and the New Kids on the Block — and reunite for a tour, it's not outside the realm of possibility.
"Never say never, you know?," he says. "That's one of those things that you learn is you never know what's going to happen. It's not like me and my brothers don't have good relationships. We're really close. I was FaceTiming both my brothers two minutes ago and saw Nick last night."
I Can Do That airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.