Triple threats are hard to come by in La La land nowadays (Sorry Bey -- Obsessed cancelled you out), but thankfully, there's the always exciting and refreshingly real, Taryn Manning. To most of us, Taryn Manning is the very talented (and, let's face it, underrated) actress with that distinctive throaty voice who portrayed the prostitute with Bo Derek cornrows to pimp daddy Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow or (my personal fave!) Britney Spears's preggers BFF in Crossroads. But she's also the soulful pipes behind the brother-sister duo Boomkat, known for their funky pop melodies and hip music videos. And if that were enough, Manning's Born Uniqorn clothing line is ideal for working it Agyness Deyn style on the Bedford Avenue catwalk. In anticipation of two upcoming exciting projects (a guest stint on the CW's Melrose Place and a starring role in Love Ranch with Joe Pesci and Hellen Mirren), I recently got a chance to chat with the Manning and discovered that she really likes Gwen Stefani, she's not scared of Chelsea Handler and she thinks typecasting sucks.
I just saw you on my personal Xanax after a long day, Chelsea Lately. And she was pretty freaking easy on you!
Yeah, I felt that it went pretty well. I thought she was really cool to me and I was really happy that my record got exposed. I love her but I could tell like the whole time that she had this look in her eyes -- like she's waiting to attack on something you say, to just destroy you. You kind of have to be on guard. But besides that, what a great time. She really loved the clothes. She actually wore the jacket from my Born Uniqorn line three nights later on the show. Whenever they play the commercial on E!, they play the segment in which she's wearing my jacket. You know, I'm all about all that stuff -- my line, my music, my acting.
Tell me about your role on the new Melrose Place. (And please tell me it's better than what they did to my dear 90210).
I'm playing myself, and what's cool about it is that I get to sing. It's dope, dude. They had a huge tour bus for my character, a big video production. They wanted to hire a singer or a band, but they wanted someone who could act as well.
What did you like better: Melrose Place or 90210?
90210, but I watched both. But to be totally honest with you, I think they're gonna have a major push behind Melrose Place, on another level, which is exciting. I'm just a guest star, but it could become a recurring character. They kind of made me and the lead characters flirt, because, you know, there's so much cheating on the show.
Your music videos are all sorts of fun. How involved are you?
I'm pretty much at this point kind of doing what I want because, you know, it's my record company that's putting out Boomkat music. I write the treatment with the director -- a director who's into me and thinks it's cool. But I also always encourage their ideas because I want everyone to be a happy family.
Tell me about your latest video for the Girl Power anthem with an edge, "Stomp."
"Stomp" is kind of old to me to be honest. I made that video over a year ago but then we decided to put out "Run Boy" as the first single, and then we backtracked and put out "Stomp." At the time, it was supposed to be about a girl who just found out her man's cheating and she's kind of just having a temper tantrum in her apartment. Just simple, simple, simple. Not overdone.
It's pretty sexy with the whole rolling-around-on-the-floor-in-heels thing...
It's a little over the top sexy for me. I mean, you know when you do something and you're like "I don't wanna put that out." It's me in the video -- there's definitely a sexy side to me. But I've seen No Doubt three times on this tour and I realized, this is my freaking hero. She truly is. I was with my man on Sunday night and he was like, "you seriously know every word to every song." Even the obscure stuff. Gwen's like the ultimate tomboy. She like shakes her booty twice during the show and the crowd goes berserk, but otherwise, she's just being herself.
For me, less is more. For the public, sex sells but I'm a little tired of it -- it's everywhere we turn. So that video is definitely that side of me, and I liked it. I think it works. It's not like I felt out of my element. But I'm definitely a bit more edgy and tomboy-ish, like Pink, and Gwen. Even Fergie.
Boomkat's been playing a slew of shows in LA. Why no love for the Big Apple?
I was literally packed up to come this summer and got a call from production that the film has been pushed back due to financial difficulties. I was gonna be in New York all summer. I'm kind of sad I'm not there to be honest. I love it there.
We've been a band for so long that we have a pretty strong show now, I have to say. I do think it kind of takes good songs, good live performance, being able to do interviews and to be kind of normal. You have to have it all. I'm really proud of our live show because it used to be really bad.
I couldn't stop YouTubing the acoustic version of "It's Not My Fault." It's quite the contrast compared to your funky, foot-stomping jams.
That's what everyone says, it's really funny. There are all these songs and then you do something random and they are like "What was that one?" Because we don't normally play acoustic. We were so nervous -- my brother practiced all the time. I was like "Kellin, you're fine. Let's just do it." I feel like it says a lot and it really has a lot of meaning to it. I wrote that when someone was blaming me for something I didn't do.
From Eminem's ex-girlfriend to pregnant teenager, you've got a resume full of edgy film roles. Do you gravitate to these realer roles? Are you worried about being typecast?
Well, I'm already typecast. It just is what it is. It's not that I gravitate toward them, like yearn for them. Basically, there's slim pickings all around. It's a saturated industry. There's so many incredible artists, to be honest. When I sit in a waiting room, I see so many recognizable, reputable actresses that all bring their A-game. It's like, okay, if these are the kind of parts that people see me as, then I'm gonna get one of these, I'm gonna kill it, and it's gonna open up my world so I can pick and choose. And that's sort of the longterm goal.
Do you ever just want to rip off the pseudo-preggers bump and go all Rachel McAdams on us?
I used to rebel. "I don't wanna play a druggie, the pregnant one. I don't wanna play her anymore." And I did play the girl next door. There's a film I did called Jack and Jill with Freddy Prince, Jr. That's like me being the girl next door, but it just doesn't suit me. I did it -- I did it, well, because I'm a good actress. But to be honest, I have friends that are actresses... They're like more classic beauties, just really pretty women. Not to say I'm not pretty, but it's a different look. And they're like, "I'd give anything to have this audition right now." And I'd be like "Take it, fuck!" But now I'm happy, I'm cool.
I love to play characters with depth. It's the fact that I've been through a lot and I don't think I can hide it. It like comes through my eyes that I've seen a couple things, been through a couple things -- a little sad, a little worn and torn, and just that I've been through it and I'm not shallow. I can't hide the rockstar in me, for lack of a better word. And that's what everyone reads. It's that bravado that comes through the room. You know, music is my first love -- period. When I'm acting, it's fun, it's cool and it pays the bills. But I love music, I love touring, I love traveling -- nothing compares. So I always bring that into the room with me or to the movie that I do. And I think that's what people see -- the musician in me. People can't put their finger on me -- it's edgy, it's strong, it's confident. It's the musician in me. It's not like I'm that... I'm quiet, I'm shy. But it comes through. And by the way, typecasting sucks. It does.
These casting directors need to get it together. I could totally see you in, say, a comedy likeJuno.
Oh yeah, my mom says, "That's you when you were 21." If Juno had been casting when I was 21, I probably would have been in the mix. But that's the thing -- because I've played so many dramatic roles and I play that well, everyone thinks I'm a dramatic actress but I'm really a clown! I'm a goofball, a stupid moron. Everyone thinks I'm so serious but it's the last thing I wanna be. Especially nowadays.
What's your dream role?
To be in a musical, like a Moulin Rouge or a Chicago... something like that. Because I'm a dancer too -- I totally grew up dancing. So if I could put all of that into one little package and display it, I'd be stoked.
Hello? Have you seen Rock of Ages or Hair?Another reason to move to New York!
I've told my agent and manager. I was in New York all summer filming, and I went and saw Mamma Mia! and I was just like, "Oh my God, that looks like too much fun." I grew up doing plays and musicals. And Gina Gershon is a pretty good friend of mine and she's been doing a ton of plays in New York and now she's doing Bye Bye Birdie. She's a singer-actress, and I'm all about that. I think that's good stuff. Do a play? I mean, c'mon!
Celebs and clothing lines aren't always a good thing. How involved are you with Born Uniqorn and how's it going? What kind of lady would rock it?
What's really funny about the situation right now... So, we have a New York sales team and an LA sales team. Our New York sales team is killing it for us -- love our line, believe in us, do so well for us. Basically, the majority of our sales are from the East Coast... But we're called Born Uniqorn Hollywood, which is funny. So, the kind of woman or girl that wears our clothing is an East Coast, chic, hip sort of day into night girl. A girl that obviously walks to work in her heels or her comfy shoes, but can later throw on her heels and leggings. And that's sort of our whole M.O. You can take our clothes from day to night by just adding heels, jewelry, and accessories. It's doing really well, it's really picking up. We've been at it for like six years. It's legit, it's legit stuff. Me and my partner design everything. When I'm not doing music or acting, I'm grinding on it, like no joke. It kind of stresses me out to be honest. But I can't quit. I can't give up.
So do blondes, redheads, or you know, Bo Derek cornrows Ã la Hustle & Flow have the most fun?
I have the worst hair ever. It's kind of like reddish blonde right now. It's so destroyed from the films I do -- it's so fine and fragile. Like from Hustle & Flow when they put all of those braids in, it's never been the same.
Photograph by Cherie Roberts