2016 Honoree

Taryn Manning

Actress, Producer Singer & Fashion Designer

“I’ve had managers that if you even speak to them a certain way, they malfunction. They can’t imagine a woman that knows what she wants or maybe throw some orders around. I have a manager right now that solely works with women and understands women, gets along with them, and knows they have a voice and they have ideas. You know, women are pretty epic.”

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most?

Because tomorrow’s I played and I can, fortunately, say that I haven’t endured a lot of sexual abuse or I have had some sexual-harassment. I was attacked by a man in New York City that was definitely going toward that sort of situation if I wasn’t saved. Mariska Hargitay does a lot of work with rape and rape kits and just making sure that it reaches the statute of limitations, because all of those things can go tested for a long time. With Trump and what he’s doing, I feel like people can change, you know that thing that we heard was from 2004, but I think when you see him, and you hear the way he speaks about women…I mean, he said some eew stuff about his daughter once. He’s really magnifying something that needs to be addressed, and I do think it’s the year the time of the woman. So, he’s done not a very interesting time and maybe even brought to our attention to illuminating this stuff.

Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

No. I just know, for me, I’ve always played the friend, girlfriend, wife, or the pregnant…it’s like we get paid less. That’s real. You could have a way bigger role in a film and can get paid way less. But, now it’s changing. There’s a lot more lead women in film, and shows like ours come out, or Wentworth, and there’s just a lot more leading women. You have your five staples that do leading women, like: Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman. You know you got those women: Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman. But, you know it’s shifting slowly. It took a long time to get here and it’s going to take a long time to do it. But, I think it’s gonna get there. And, we freaking had men. I don’t know why they think they’re so simple. We have babies. We baked and cooked them and put them out. We can multi-task. Women are coming up in the executive world because they can have a baby, have a side job, and have their career. And, the man is just like with the remote (slouches on couch).

What specific aspect of women’s rights in the U.S. could we change to set an example to the world?

Not that everything is about money, but I think if you put women and men on equal playing ground right there, because the balance would just help to equalize everything. I think having a president is going to be quite profound for us. I mean, we made some with Obama, and just having Hillary run…I feel good about her. She knows what she’s doing and her husband has been the president. I mean, Trump gave her a compliment in the debate last night because he had to: “You know, what’s one thing you two do respect about each other?” Trump said, you know, Hillary doesn’t stop fighting. She’s driven, and she perseveres. I like that about her. It reminds me of me. She’s tenacious.

Whatever profession you choose, do men see women as either a female rival with independence and strength or someone inexperienced that needs to be managed, never as an equal? How do you show your male colleagues that you are an equal without stepping on their toes?

I mean, honestly, I’ve worked with both different kinds of men. I’ve had managers that if you even speak to them a certain way, they malfunction. They can’t imagine a woman that knows what she wants or maybe throw some orders around. I have a manager right now that solely works with women and understands women, gets along with them, and knows they have a voice and they have ideas. You know, women are pretty epic. We’re just like humans. We’re just like men. I think you need that feminine and masculine energy to rule the world and balance it.

In your opinion, what will it take (apart from time) for women to be viewed as equal to men?

Just more women doing great things and believing that they can. Women need to know that they don’t have to just get married and have a kid, and give up on your dream, only to come out of that 20 years later and have so many regrets. I honestly haven’t met one woman who has given up her life for her husband and had a bunch of kids, and then they’re off in college and is still satisfied. I’m in my late 30’s now, and I haven’t gotten married or had kids. I’ve always been pretty career oriented. But, I had to make sure that I wasn’t a workaholic. You know? Just trying to balance that.

Staying on the current political climate, and with the two party system being severely challenged at the moment, do you feel the extreme left and right wings of U.S. politics are destroying the United in the United States, or is it just healthy debate?

I just don’t think you could put either of them in a category of a real politician. I don’t. I think that. Like, Trump’s whole thing about wanting to become president so he could put Hillary in jail. That’s like a dictatorship. The things that he focuses on aren’t uniting at all. It’s dividing with the borders and what Nixon was like. One thing that impressed me with this debate was how much she’s like, “You don’t even let me talk about what I want to change in our country. I don’t get a chance to talk about anything,” because he’s so focused on such bullshit. Even when she got a minute, she was talking about her plans. That’s a terrible opportunity in the air–I don’t know, I don’t agree with a lot of her decisions either in life, but right now, in my book, she wins.

Should the financing of political campaigns be controlled by an independent authority? Or do you think they should be regulated at all?

I do because I feel some people were knocked out of the race because they couldn’t personally fund it. I mean, when you’re up against him, and I guess her money too, yeah that’s not fair. And the fact that he talks about money so much and the fact that he has it. I mean, you’re not speaking to throngs of people. That’s a Republican thing right? It’s based on a lot of money, and I just don’t think that’s speaking to certain races or just communities. That’s just like over their heads and how can you relate?

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago? Do today’s young people face a bigger challenge than you did?

I wish I knew about antidepressants, and stuff to help me focus (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. I wish that I didn’t sweat the small stuff so much, but I feel like that’s all a part of growing up. I wish I knew a lot of what I know now at that age. But, youth is wasted on the young. But, I wish I could take back some of the things that I’ve done or decisions I’ve made. But, I feel in my late 30’s and going forward that I have a whole new outlook on life and I feel like it’s to change or there’s like hope out there.

Do you feel that religion is on the decline in the Western World? Will it have an effect on U.S. society? If so, will it be good or bad?

I don’t know how much my character on Orange is the New Black knows and even knows what she’s talking about. She had to; I think that she learned that’s how she had to be if she wanted to get out of jail. But, I think that she’s radical and shows people that everyone needs something to cling onto in jail, but she’s always messing up the Bible verses, and they don’t always go with the exact issue at hand. I grew up religious in my family and I went to a Sunday school every Sunday. I love that I have that. I was a Bahai growing up. I still have all the teachings. I love religion. I study a lot of them. There’s always a fundamental thing in there, and I don’t think it’s not as predominant, and I do think it’s sad for the Western world. Even though I love a lot of Eastern religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism and all that kind of stuff. Everyone is just like, “I’m spiritual.” Spiritualism is worshipping the devil. Like these meditations, and these New Age religions are from the devil. It kind of scares me because I love to meditate and all that. I do think people need to slow down and be more present. I think if people would just stop and listen to each other more, there wouldn’t be so much miscommunication. Like today, for instance, I pull up to the coffee shop and this lady–she had her turn signal on–and I was gonna take her spot and she had her left turn signal on, so I wanted her to know that she could pull out. So, I beeped on the horn tenderly, and she just screamed at me with her hands waving everywhere. And I was like, “whoah.” I looked at her and said, “hey it’s all good I was just letting you know you’re free to pull out.” And she felt so dumb, and said: “Oh, I’m so sorry I thought that you’re rushing me!” And I told her, “not even.” So, I know that lesson is going to go a long way for her because she felt so bad. But, it’s just that reactionary thing that we do that can mess up our day, like road rage. I don’t know if that’s a religious thing, but I do think that it’s good to have for our kids to grow up with a moral compass. Some classes in public school, too. I don’t know what it is because you have to be careful, that’s something where you learn manners, and just doing to others as you want to be done to yourself. You know, just fundamental morals. You can’t teach someone on how to be a good person.

Can you tell us about one of the biggest challenges in your life that you think helped you become the person you are today?

I lost my dad to suicide at fourteen. That forever changed me. It changed my life. I always say that a piece of my heart broke off. That’s that depth that’s innately inside of me, and also a pain. My dad was so funny, so I have this comedian in me too. That was weird. I still miss him very much.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

My best decision was probably taking Orange is the New Black. It was a suepof the bodyguards new officers super tiny role at first. The character was just mean and one-dimensional and just mean on the page. But, I took it. I took it because I was a fan of Jenji Kohan. I thought the Netflix model was super cool. I like to pioneer things. That was probably one of my best decisions. It gave me a little revival of my career. Regarding bad decisions, there were a couple of roles that I passed up, but I don’t want to mention them because I don’t want to take that away from the actresses who played them. I think my bad decisions, is more personal stuff, decisions with people that I hung out with for way too long. Who disguise themselves as somebody who is helping or a friend. In my higher self, in my heart, my gut, whatever was like screaming no in my mind, and my ego was like, “oh they’re good, they’re good,” but low and behold. So, I always say that your gut tells you right away. Like it’s a yes or a no. So, becoming aware that it’s the feeling. It can almost disguise itself as excitement like butterflies, but it’s just like a twist that’s like run. It’s a fleeting moment that we have to listen to. That was one of the biggest lessons that I learned in the past few years when I went through some painful stuff. I’m kind of emerging through a tough, tough, time. I call it my three years in hell. But, I don’t believe in hell. I think hell is what we make of it. It’s like it’s here. It’s in our minds. You know? I was going through some externally hard stuff. God, I was so messed up from it. I thought that’s what I was becoming, just a messed up person, and I wasn’t going to heal from it, but I have overcome this thing too. Right now is probably one of my best moments I’ve had for a long time. I’m so happy and hopeful and just overcoming my shit. But, it happened to me from the outside. It overtook me, but it came from people that I knew weren’t good. It’s lonely in this business, or you can find yourself alone. I don’t like the word “lonely,” but it’s lonely on top. I’m not saying that I’m on top, but this show gave me a revival–interesting people came around, and interesting things happened. I was supposed to be celebrating success, but it’s a hard business. It’s hard to get into, and it’s hard to make it, and it’s hard to stay in it. And, there’s a lot of temptations and weird things…That’s life.

Who inspires you the most? If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Michael Jackson so much. I loved him so much. That was tough. I grew up with him. I had him all throughout my childhood and my teenage years. I love Janet, too. I used to sing their songs all the time. That’s how I got into music–his dancing. I just felt like he was dealt a really poor card, but he just seems like a nice and tender person. I’m not sure what he would say at dinner. He seems really quiet and reserved, but I would love to have dinner with Elvis too. But, I would say my dad again. I’d be like, so, here I am at this age. Apparently, I’m a lot like you. Let’s hash it out. I think he’s proud.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I think I’d want to fly.

Favorite: Book/writer? Song/singer? Movie/actor? Cuisine/dish?

Where the Sidewalk Ends, or In the Attic. The Four Agreements, The Alchemist, Life After Death by Deepak Chopra.
Harry Potter.
Stevie Nicks “Silver Springs.” Lauryn Hill.
Jodie Foster Silence of the Lambs.
Italian Food and Pizza.

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