Orange Is the New Black Star Is Manning the Decks

Taryn Manning, aka "Pennsatucky," holds it down on more than one front

Photo by Elisabeth Caren

Photo by Elisabeth Caren

You might know Taryn Manning as comedic villain/walking PSA for oral hygiene Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett on Orange Is the New Black. Or from any of her dozens of roles—a résumé that includes 8 Mile, Sons of Anarchy and Britney Spears’ flick Crossroads (which we’ve never seen…). But the 36-year-old is much more than a supporting role. With roots placed as firmly in music and dance as acting, Manning will soon unveil her long-awaited solo EP. We caught up with Manning recently to talk about Season 3 of OITNB (premiering June 12 on Netflix), music and being an Internet meme before she hosts Ditch Fridays on June 5 at the Palms and mans the turntables at Foundation Room on June 6 at Mandalay Bay.

What did you want to be as a kid, an actress or singer?

There was never a calculated goal, like, “I’m going to be…” If I wasn’t dancing then I wanted to be singing and writing songs with my brother … The acting came from when I was in my dance company. There were these clique-y girls and I would hear them talk about their acting class. So I went to my mom and said, “Mom, I want to take acting.” There was never any “I want to be famous” or “I want to be a rock star” moment. There was definitely a “I want to be one of the greats.” I remember thinking I wanted to die at 27 and be a part of the 27 Club, which was kind of morbid. Then, when I made it past 27, I said, “All right, I’m not one of the greats. There’s still Bob Marley; he died at 36.”

Well, I’m glad you’re still alive.

I’m totally messing around, but at the time I wasn’t.

It sounds like you just want to do a lot of cool shit.

That’s it, really. Just because you can, and you’re human, so why not?

What direction are you headed musically?

My brother and I did a lot of electronica, pop, rock—I don’t even know what it was; it was our own recipe. Lately I’ve put out a couple progressive house [songs] and remixes from dub step to trap and big room. My EP that’s coming out soon, it’s sort of landed on ‘80s Depeche Mode and the Cure with a dash of Portishead, Massive Attack an Basement Jaxx … It’s kind of closed-down and mature and I would say it’s my darker lyrical content. Not necessarily bad news bears, but I sing a little bit about things that aren’t so awesome in life.

What can we expect from your DJ sets?

I read the room as much as I can. I lean more toward a dance set. It’s girly because I’m a girl and I love vocals and all that. But there’ll be some hip-hop, some pop remixes. It’s kind of all over the place. I’ll even throw it back to some grunge, like some Pearl Jam and Nirvana and then some Prodigy and then go into Calvin Harris and Drake and everything else that’s popping right now. I’ve loved dance music since I was a young girl, so I’ll even play stuff that was big before my time. If the beat’s dope and it mixes in and transitions well, you can start introducing people to stuff. I try to make it my own and customize it so that way people are left like, “That was cool” or “That was different” or “That sucked.”

What can we expect from the new season of OITNB?

More development and understanding of where these people come from. It’s just really an awesome show. I’m always in awe of the scripts. I’m like, Oh, good God! No, they didn’t! It’s just shocking. Right when you’re feeling high, it takes you low. When you’re feeling low, it takes you back up. It has that crazy whirlwind effect.

Did you know that it would become so popular when you started?

I knew I was part of something cool … but on set I’d be doing a scene and in my mind thinking, What are we making? I was so confused. I had no idea how it was going to edit together. But when I saw it, I was like, Oh, OK. I love how they jump cut and smash right into the backstories. I see the vision now.

I hope you have very little in common with your character, Pennsatucky. But is there any part of you that identifies with her?

She’s kind of a mystery—I like that about her. She’s really just vacillating between: Is she a bully or is she a softy? I feel like we all are trying to figure out who we are. I identify with that part of it.

People like her, so much that she’s become an Internet meme. Do you have a favorite?

I do. It’s the “The moment when you find the last french fry in the bag” or something. I love that one because I’ve been there. I’m like, yes! It’s funny, sometimes I’ll lose myself when I’m acting and won’t remember what I did. I don’t remember taking that photo and putting my hands up like that, but obviously I must have. It’s so silly. It makes me smile.

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