Taryn Manning talks grief, music and moving to New York
‘Orange Is The New Black’ fans know Taryn Manning as Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, an Evangelical former meth-head. Ahead of the much anticipated arrival of Season 4 on June 17th to Netflix, Independent.ie met with the star in New York to talk about life in NYC, music and getting to grips with Pennsatucky.
Tiffany “Pensatucky’ Doggett has had one of the biggest transformations since she burst in to Litchfield as its racist, homophobic bully in season one. Both physically (thanks to a new set of teeth in season two) and personally, evolving in to one of the Penitentiary's most lovable felons.
It's been a personal journey for actress Taryn Manning too, who has relocated to NYC for the role, getting to know the city and making new friends, on and off camera. Joining the cast as a racist and a homophobe six episodes in wasn’t easy, “the teeth were bad, people were just like, whose that girl?” Manning says.
“When you’re acting, hopefully if you’re good, you’re sincere. I was a real asshole,” she laughs. “I would leave there with my head down just because I was so in to it.”
Taryn was so emotionally drained playing the show’s unofficial bad guy at first, that she couldn’t audition for other parts. “As actresses we’ll put ourselves on tape for another movie coming up, down the road, we’re always looking for our next job,” but her approach for OITNB was more method, a first for her, “ I couldn’t really audition things, I was just in it. Not like, out on the streets in my own free time, there just wasn’t any other character I wanted to dive in to. I was loyal to her.”
A much more harmonious Pennsatucky featured heavily in last season and viewers got to learn about her life before Litchfield. Incarceration didn't grant the former preacher any reprieve though, as Doggett endured a harrowing sexual assault at the hands of a prison guard.
A modest Manning says she’s enjoying Tiffany’s character arc, although “I did enjoy when she was more nuts,” she jokes.
With season four under her belt, the California girl has had to adjust to living in New York, where the show is filmed. “I’m kind of getting it down. It takes a minute though.”
“We’ve all made friends, we’ve all broken off in to little squads because there are so many of us.” However the squads are nothing like the show, she insists.
Her next role sees Manning tackle a troubled bi-polar mother in soon to be released, ‘A Light Beneath Their Feet.' She researched the role tirelessly, trying to understand life battling bi-polar and "tortured herself" in the process. Although a mother to her dogs, the star has no children and says playing a mother for the first time was interesting, even if seeing herself as one took some getting used to. “I don’t look like a mom, I look, like I’m 12.”
A former meth-head in prison, a bipolar parent: Manning has been tackling some heavy content lately but doesn’t seek out dark parts, she insists. They’re the roles being offered to her, “they come down the path.”
She’s trying to do more comedic work, including directing a web series with comics and actors that make her laugh. “I’m really not all dark, I even made a promise to myself that I don’t want to die too many more times in a film. I think I have died 12 times in my career, I think I have been pregnant five times.”
The petite actress really enjoyed working on the series of 5 minutes shows, that she cast and directed, “It’s all real things that happen to us but that are taboo. You know when you’re on your first date and you have to take a dump so bad and you’re suffering.”
Having fun and joking around is important to the actress, “that’s the spirit of who I am.”
“My dad was the most funny person on the planet but then he committed suicide and all of this friends always tell me, they never saw this coming because he was always so funny and so, just not, we didn’t know he had such demons or such sadness. Not saying I do too, I can tap in to all that stuff. “
When probed on what the future looks like, Manning turns to music. She has over a hundred songs ready for release and is planning on putting together an EP of five songs, that will hopefully appeals to her current audience.
People are like, “now she sings?” she says with a big smile, “Because they don’t know but I have always sang and I write and I play guitar.”
“That’s my next year, an EP! I feel like giving it to people in little chunks is easier to digest in our OCD world!”