You will instantly recognize the always stunning Taryn Manning from her roles in such films as ‘8 Mile,’ ‘A Lot Like Love’ and Hustle & Flow. What you might not realize is that she is more than a typical one dimensional Hollywood actress. From television to film to music to fashion, she does it all! Whether it is gracing the silver screen in her new film ‘The Perfect Age For Rock N’ Roll’ or putting the finishing touches on her upcoming solo album, this free spirit puts her all in to every project, making both critics and fans stand up and take notice! As one of the hardest working women in show business, she shows no signs of slowing down. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with this multi-faceted artist to discuss her latest film project which melds her love of music and acting, her musical roots, her upcoming solo album, the misconceptions associated with her and much more!
How did you get involved with your latest film, “The Perfect Age For Rock ‘N’ Roll,” and what drew you to the role?
My agent called me and said, “You have an audition for this film. Do you want it?” I read the script and really enjoyed it, so I met with the director where I auditioned like all of the other actors and got the part. As far was what drew me to the role, I don’t know if you know a lot about me but I am a musician as well. That part of my life drew me to the script. Anything to do with rock ‘n’ roll, I love! It is difficult to find strong female roles. So, even though my character makes some mistakes in the film and breaks the cardinal rule, it still interests me to play a road manager because I always play the artist. I thought that it could be really cool because I have had a lot of experiences out on the road with my own band and I can draw from my own experiences and create my own character.
What was the biggest challenge for you in bringing this character to life?
The biggest challenge for me was to find Rose’s redeeming quality because it wasn’t all on the page. I had to do it with my acting. I had to really search for her redeeming qualities because in the script, she kinda causes some problems in addition to being the road manager. If you have seen the movie, the last scene where she makes a huge mistake, I asked the director to just let the cameras role because I was in this place that I will never be able to explain, but I did this improv, this monologue, that the director told me was so powerful, bizarre and real that he wanted to make a short film out of it. In the final cut, it got cut down for the film’s sake but it was very important to me that you could see and feel Rose’s regret and that you could feel that she made a bad choice and that she really did love him. I just hope that it came across because that was what was important to me, to find qualities in Rose.
In your opinion, what did director Scott D. Rosenbaum bring to the project?
Scott is an amazing person! I think that he brought a lot of legitimate education on rock ‘n’ roll, the origins of rock ‘n’ roll and where it stems from. He is just a music fanatic! For the film, we have a lot of really, old-time musicians in the film which gives it a great authenticity and it also incorporates the whole thing about the “27 Club” situation, which is eerie with Amy Winehouse’s passing. I had a similar feeling while working on “Hustle & Flow.” The director really knew what he wanted, he knew the characters and knew his movie. I have worked with so many directors where I have just wanted to say, “Have you read your script?!” Ya know what I mean? I don’t mean that in a rude way but you meet some directors that have a very, very clear vision of what they want to accomplish and Scott is one of them!
Each project seems to be a learning experience for an actor. What did you learn from your time on this film and with its eclectic cast?
What did I learn from this one? I learned how to be around all guys and hold my own! [laughs]
Maybe I am being naive but I wouldn’t have guessed that something like that would be a problem for you!
I have a lot of girlfriends. I am a girls-girl and I have a lot of really tight girlfriends. I can get pretty shy around all guys! I learned strength during this film. I didn’t really realize that I had it in me. It was amazing to find that within myself and utilize it for the character and my real life.
You touched on your own personal music. A lot of people might not know about that side of you. How did music first come into your life?
I was born into music. My father was a musician. I basically grew up in bars and night clubs, sitting on a stool, waiting for him to be done performing, so that I could go to bed because my Mom and Dad had split up. Every summer my father was somewhere else, some other city, because his band was popular locally, on the east coast and in the Washington, D.C. area. So, I saw a lot with my Dad. My Dad was a really interesting guy who definitely took my brother and I on wild adventures every summer. I was around a lot of music and my father was very into Motown and rock ‘n’ roll, like Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones. He is the one who introduced me to all of those elements and I am obsessed with Motown. He would make me sing all the time and embarrass me by putting me on display in front of all his friends and make me sing. He is really the one that did it!
I bet those experiences lend themselves pretty well to your acting craft since many of your films have musical overtones in them.
Yeah! It has been such an interesting career for me. There are only a few movies that I have done that don’t have my music in it or don’t have a musician in them of some sort. It is very uncanny the way music and movies have been so hand in hand, even with TV shows. It is like it is meant to be for me to be doing both. I won’t choose and I get asked all of the time, “If you could choose to act or sing, which one would it be?” I wouldn’t! I am going to do both! It is what I have been doing! Even when I am an old, old woman, I am still probably going to play my guitar and write songs because it is healing for me.
You have a new album in the works, what can you tell us about that project?
I have got my newest song out right now! It is called “Turn It Up!” and it is doing really well. I have my next single lined up to go. I am doing some touring while I am here in New York. It is my priority right now. I have worked for two years on this album and I am crazy about it. I worked with several different producers and collaborated with all different kinds of writers. It’s not Boomkat, it is just me! But I do have another Boomkat album in the works too. Those albums take a little bit longer just because my brother doesn’t work at the same pace as I do. Whenever my brother needs some time to relax, I just do my own thing. This is what that is, it is my solo album.
What is the biggest challenge in putting a project like that together in today’s climate?
To be honest with you, the music industry is rough and the biggest challenge is the financial aspect of it. My entire career, I have funded myself. I act so that I can pay for my music. I act and then I pay for my entire clothing line. I basically spend money to make money. I just have this thought that it just flows like that. There have been times that I have been in the red paying for studio time, producers and equipment and this and that. My Mom always says, “Taryn, what are you doing?” I just say, “I am doing what I love.” Money is something that you can’t take to the grave. I know that is so clique but it is true. I grew up so poor that when I have money, I invest it in what I love to do.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about yourself?
Well, ya know, I have been tragically stereotyped as an edgy, drug addicted, always playing pregnant roles and it is frustrating. Even for this film “Manson Girls” that I am about to film, the director wanted to meet with me because all she could see was that “Hustle & Flow” hooker. I guess that I played that so well that people think they plucked me off the streets of Memphis! [laughs] On one hand it is an amazing compliment but on the other hand it has been so frustrating to be pigeon-holed. Even the director of “Manson Girls,” when she gave me a chance, she sat with me and said, “Wow, you are one of the most sophisticated actresses that I have sat with regarding this film and I feel terrible that you are so misconceived.” It is frustrating but there came a point where I was just like, “Whatever!” I know who I am. I know that I am educated. I have traveled around the world three times. I have record deals and clothing lines. I am a business woman. I am smart! I am an entrepreneur and I am not on drugs or a drug addict. I am actually a decent person who is very spiritual and very kind to others! I love my family and I am a good friend, ya know what I mean?
Definitely! I am glad we can help spread the word as we are all big fans of your work.
Thank you! I really appreciate that!
Anything you would like to say to people who might not have had a chance to check out your music yet?
To the people who don’t know my music, just give it a chance. Go online and check out my history and all of my videos from the Boomkat material to the latest stuff. Give it a chance and I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
What else should we be on the lookout for from you in the months to come?
I just completed a movie for Syfy that is going to come out in October with Ving Rhames. It is an action film, a zombie apocalypse film. That was really fun for me to get to do action! I am very physical even though I am small. I don’t get to be seen for action films because they are always like, “She is so petite! How could she possibly do this action thing!” It’s funny because I grew up doing karate and I was number one in the state of Arizona. I like to call myself a little Mighty Mouse. [laughs]
Awesome! We will be on the lookout for that! Thanks so much for your time and we look forward to talking to you again soon!
For all the latest news on Taryn Manning, connect with her on her official website at www.tarynmanning.com! Fans can check out the official site for ‘The Perfect Age For Rock N’ Roll’ at www.theperfectageofrocknroll.com!