Taryn Manning is a multitalented machine. From her breakout role in the film Crazy/Beautiful to Hustle & Flow, she has played interesting parts with vulnerability and grace.
She worked with music stars like Britney Spears in the movie Crossroads and Eminem in 8 Mile, all the while performing as a singer herself, having just released a new song this year "All the Way for Love."
In her spare time she started a clothing brand called Born Unicorn and worked with the Human Rights Campaign.
She joined the cast of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, playing a religious fanatic inmate named Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett.
Windy City talked to the spritely actress at Wizard World's first ever Fan Fest in Rosemont recently and here is what she had to say.
Windy City Times: Hi Taryn. You are from Tucson, Arizona?
Taryn Manning: I was born in Virginia, then we moved to Tucson.
WCT: I just went to Arizona.
TM: Isn't it beautiful? I am so into the desert. I love mountains and sunsets. I live in California. I am always trying to find places like those so I like Palm Springs.
WCT: How was auditioning for Orange Is the New Black?
TM: To be honest with you, I got an offer.
WCT: So they came to you?
TM: Yeah, and I can't even explain that feeling. Auditioning is tough. It can really make or break a role. You can study so well but just get in that room and someone's energy will throw you off and you will bomb. I felt really lucky to get an offer.
WCT: Did you know someone like your character, Tiffany?
TM: Oh, yeahbut not so all over the place. I have never met someone exactly like her but I have met some extremely religious people.
WCT: What have you learned from working with lesbian and transgender cast members?
TM: I have learned a lot, actually. I have seen a shift in morale, in a sense, with gay rights finally coming together and people who truly love each other can now find that union and be married. It is really quite profound. It is time.
There is that aspect to it, but then working around so many diverse women is so incredible. Everyone's wisdom is very different and unique. I learn new things everyday I work with them.
WCT: You have been a gay supporter for a long time working with the Human Rights Campaign.
TM: Of course, that's me.
WCT: But you are playing a character that is drastically different than that on TV.
TM: Yes, it is morally conflicting at times. I go home and pray about it, literally. I'm not racist or anti-gay. We are all human beings and I don't like how some people treat each other. It is disturbing to me.
WCT: Have you been watching Empire on TV?
TM: I have watched a little bit. I think it is amazing.
WCT: Your cast members from Hustle & Flow are on there.
TM: I know, and I am so proud of them. I want to be on there!
WCT: Taraji P. Henson is a standout.
TM: She is so good!
WCT: Favorite moment from Sons of Anarchy?
TM: Standing with Katey Sagal and talking about music, because I am a musician. She is an amazing musician. She genuinely asked me questions about my career. She took time to really talk to me. She's a beautiful person and so smart.
WCT: Have you had any crazy fan requests while here at the comic convention?
TM: Nothing really, but they like this photo from Orange Is the New Black with my hands praising to the heavens!
WCT: Hands up!
TM: I love it.
WCT: Talk about your new single.
TM: I just had a new single come out called "All the Way." It is a big dance song. I shot a really cool video for it that I produced and made happen. It is doing well.
WCT: You should perform it in the gay bars.
TM: I do, and [at] a lot of gay Pride festivals.
WCT: Do you have another movie coming out soon?
TM: Yes, it is a Lifetime film coming out April 25. [It's] called Cleveland Abduction, and I am really excited about [it]. I also have another season of Orange.
WCT: The third season is already filmed, correct?
TM: Yes, and we are coming back for season four.
WCT: Breaking news!
TM: I knowI'm like, "What?" Yeah, it's good.
WCT: What a great success story.
TM: I know. It's wild. I have never experienced anything like it to be honest and I have been acting for over 17 years. This has been such a unique experience. I am super grateful.
WCT: When are you coming back to Chicago?
TM: When it gets warm!
Visit Manning's website at www.tarynmanning.com .
Orange Is the New Black locks up season two on May 19 on DVD. Visit www.amazon.com to purchase Piper and the gang today.