Jared Leto was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, to Constance "Connie" (Metrejon) and Anthony L. "Tony" Bryant. Leto is a stepfather's surname. His family traveled across the United States throughout Leto's childhood, living in such states as Wyoming, Virginia and Colorado. He dropped a study of painting at Philadelphia's University of the Arts in favor of a focus on acting at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
In 1992, Leto moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, intending to take acting roles on the side. While searching for film roles, he was cast in the show, My So-Called Life. Leto contributed to the soundtrack of the film, and so impressed the producers initially that he was soon a regular on the show.
In 1998, Leto founded the band, 30 Seconds to Mars, with his brother, Shannon Leto, and Matt Wachter, who later left the group.