Tayrn Manning, a multi-hyphenate that excels in all that she does. Hailing from Falls Church, Virginia, the acclaimed actress, producer, fashion designer, entrepreneur, and recording artist was extremely active as a child, dabbling in everything from dance to karate to acting. At age 12, her family relocated to California… and the rest was history.
In describing herself, Taryn states, “I’m an actor and a musician, and I love animals. [laughs] They’re all around, there’s two here and the cats are asleep because they sleep all day.”
You may recognize Taryn from her standout role on the Netflix hit series Orange Is the New Black, or maybe on the CBS series Hawaii Five-0 or FX’s Sons of Anarchy. Regardless, her talents and ability to step into a role and bring her character to life does not go unnoticed, as she continues to add all-star credits to her already impressive resume.
Fast forward today, she steps into her most controversial role to date: Karen. A derogatory term that arose during the height of the tragic George Floyd incident where an officer kneed him to death, Karen quickly became a global meme/phenomenon used to describe the typical middle-class white woman displays behaviors that stem from privilege. In accepting the role, Taryn hopes the film serves as a platform to push for change, shaking up the uncomfortableness we all feel when it comes to society’s systemic and racial injustices.
Additionally, Taryn lent her voice to Teenage Euthanasia which premiered late September on Adult Swim, showcasing her character Infinitee in a great way. Flaunt caught up with Taryn via Instagram Live, who had just returned from the gym in Palm Springs, California where she resides. Read below as we discuss her role in Karen, shooting the film in 14 days, doing voiceover in Teenage Euthanasia, shooting 7 seasons of Orange is The New Black, love for music, forthcoming single “Put Your Arms Around Me,” being featured in the 8 Mile soundtrack, and more!
People are saying they love the movie Karen. How does it feel to have it out?
I mean, mixed emotions. It makes people feel a certain way. Some people understand it, some people don’t. It definitely brings up a lot of emotions. The thing I’m happy about is it brings up conversation, whether it’s good or bad. It gets people talking so that’s good. It starts the conversation amongst people who maybe never thought about stuff like that before.
Obviously, with the racial climate, the term Karen itself carries its own weight. You wanted people to get the positive message out of it, how do you feel this movie does that?
This particular movie, it’s a thriller. It’s entertainment at the same time of course, but it’s not. There’s a message in there, it’s such an active situation. It’s been active for so long that sometimes I ask “Is it right with the time?” I don’t know. I hope people can curve their behaviors more, think twice about some of their actions that can cause such huge effects on people, families, and neighborhoods.
What was the process in landing the role for the film? Was there hesitation?
When I was offered the role, I first said, “Yeah (as in no), I’m good.” [laughs] He’s like “No, you’re the only one I want.” I became friends with Coke Daniels, the director and writer, a filmmaker, he’s my homie and my brother now. He wanted me so bad and his passion for me was admirable — I’m like “Why? No why, why do you want me?”
I mean, you’re a very established actress!
Right, I guess. I am always humble, but – sincerely thanks though. I always get offered the roles to play villains and just bad people. I tried to play the girl next door. I begged and begged: “Please!” It’s not like I’m turning those roles down and just taking these bad roles. Nope – but it was tough, and I did it. I didn’t care if I sacrificed myself or if my career got canceled or anything to try to help and lend my voice wherever I could, and will continue to do so for important topics. And for Karen – The white, privileged woman, it’s even hard to even speak about stuff that I don’t really understand. And I never will because I’m white, it’s not really my right.
How was the process of shooting it? How was that experience?
It was rough. You’re not making friends on set, you know? [laughs]
No, but really, they’re so supportive. We shot that in 14 days too by the way. It was raining every day so it was a lot of work, it was hard. It was cool though. And we all became a tight knit group.
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People are really saying they liked it.
Oh thank you guys – I am glad to hear that. Hi everybody, glad you guys liked it! It’s not personal. Some people think I’m really like that so that part bums me out, but whatever. I’m not, and I know that, so it’s fine. The film was made to deliver a message.
What are some other roles you’re excited for? I know you’re in The Gateway…
I have a bunch of good projects coming up for release: Every Last One of Them comes out October 22, I co-star with Richard Dreyfuss – Theatres and streaming. I also have this cool movie called Bobcat Moretti. I have a cartoon that just premiered on Adult Swim called Teenage Euthanasia, I’m the voice for a young little punk rocker and a cop. A bunch of neat stuff, some new music coming out soon. The Gateway is also streaming on digital, with Frank Grillo, Shea Whigham and Olivia Munn.
How is it lending your voice to Teenage Euthanasia?
I haven’t even seen it all yet. [laughs] I’ve only seen the snippets. It’s really bizarre. She’s cool, she just keeps it real. It’s always fun, those are such great jobs. I love doing voiceover stuff, it’s really fun. I think people will enjoy it.
Do you miss filming Orange Is the New Black?
Oh yeah, that was fun. I do, I miss New York a lot too because we filmed out there. That was an amazing time. It was 7 years, we did 7 seasons. I came home in between, but it ran for 7 seasons.
Did you anticipate the show to become what it was, filming in the beginning?
Mmm, not at all. I didn’t know. I’d never really been a part of anything like that so I didn’t know what could happen. It was a phenomenon. The fans are incredible.
What did you learn about yourself? Personally and professionally.
Well, that’s a good question. Oh my goodness, that was 7 years. I was going through a lot too personally. I learned that New York’s very cold and lonely if you don’t really know anybody. [laughs] But, no really, I actually loved New York. I miss it like crazy. Working and being around so many amazing women and such great writing… we’re talking every single one of those actors – all are so special. Being around that buzzing energy every day then our show doing so well, it’s a good frequency going on. Just good vibes. Everybody’s proud of each other. Everybody’s hilarious. Laughter and politics all day long.
How long have you been doing music? How is it balancing both?
This is my old studio. [shows room] I’ve been doing music since I was 16. I had a group with my brother called Boomkat, we were signed to DreamWorks Records. After that, I had a bunch of solo stuff. I do a lot of EDM dance music: deep house, dubstep. I DJ as well. I play guitar. I try, I’m not that good at it but I can write on guitar. I write songs. I’m a raver really at heart, to be honest with everybody.
I used to rave too!
Oh yeah, I was a freaking hardcore raver growing up. I love raves. I love dance music and I love hip-hop. My brother loves hip-hop so I grew up all around it — my brother was always 2 turntables and a microphone, everything growing up. It’s always been music my whole life. My dad was signed to Gamble and Huff, an amazing production team out of Philly. My dad back in the ’70s was a soul singer and all that. Music’s a big part of my life.
What do you have going on music-wise?
I’m about to put one out, it takes a couple of weeks to set it up but it’s called “Put Your Arms Around Me.” It’s a song about dying, in a good way though. It is about what I imagine happens when you die. It’s a big dance song. [screams lyrics] It’s a rager, it’s good.
I was going to say, I’m scared of dying.
I am too, something I’ve never done! Have you? [laughs] What’re you scared of?
Just not knowing. Is it the end or do you go somewhere else? I picture it as being the end.
Like you go in the dirt and it’s lights out? That’s what my brother thinks too. I know, but I’m not gonna talk about it. I mean, I feel like I know. Some people believe in reincarnation, that’s cool. That’s obvious when you meet people and you feel like you’ve known him for a lifetime. You’re like “I feel like I’ve met you.” Sometimes you have to wonder where that comes from, right? I don’t know. If we all knew, we’d probably live our lives very differently.
Your song was in the 8 Mile soundtrack, that’s so dope! How’d that happen?
It’s called “Wasting My Time,” the first song I ever released. Marshall loved it so much, he’d play it on the way home from set. Brittany Murphy told me that, then he put it on the soundtrack. That was awesome. Truly.
How’d that feel?
It’s pretty awesome, I’m like “Oh my God!” I called my brother and told him right away, we were so excited. When I was young, like 21 or 22, I used to open my trailer door and bump my music out. “This is my demo!” I had no fear back then, I loved that side to me. His road manager was walking by and asked “what are you listening to?!” I said “Me! My stuff.” [laughs] I would never do that kind of stuff now, but I did then. He said “oh let me hear it.” He took it and played it for him, so that was cool. That was dope.
It completely stands out. “Well, why’s this song on the soundtrack?” It’s all his poppin’ songs, then this ballad. It sold a lot of records, you know? My brother and I were stoked.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
Man, it depends. I like to hang out and just lay low. I got really used to being at home because this pandemic got me lazy these days. I’ve been getting up, going to the gym more. I’ve been swimming a lot. I hang out with my friends and enjoy downtime, going out to dinner.
Any goals for yourself at this point?
No, not really. I don’t like to do that to myself, that’s pressure. I do take guitar lessons every Friday just to brush up, make sure I’m still rocking.