Taryn Manning: She’s Not Just Steve McGarrett’s Little Sister

000268706“I never felt so good about myself, to be honest,” Taryn Manning tells me when we sit down to talk about her role of Mary Ann McGarrett on Hawaii Five-0, as well as some other exciting projects she’s working on.

Mary’s Unpredictable

“People really like my character,” she says, pointing out the number of tweets she gets daily.

“I love the character, but, at the same time, it’s probably the hardest role I’ve ever played.  This girl is so unpredictable.  But she’s always fun.  She’s an individual who’s finding herself.  And she loves her brother (Steve McGarrett, played by Alex O’Loughlin) very much.  I see them getting closer.  She brings out a softer side to him.”

Manning Helps Out

It’s the eve of Thanksgiving, and Manning’s a bit melancholoy about not being able to spend this year celebrating with her family.  She says, “Since I’m not going to spend the holiday with them this year, I wanted to have a little bit of a Thanksgiving, so I went down to the homeless shelter in downtown L.A. to help out.”

She also helps out homeless animals.  “I love adoption days,” she says, “and helping the animals find homes.  It hurts my heart so bad, but I’m getting better at it.  It took me a while to come to terms with the way some people treat animals.  It just blows my mind.  Some people don’t revere animals at all.  I don’t understand it.”

It’s a Hard Business

Helping people and animals are just two things Manning does in her “spare time.”

She says, “I always encourage young actors who ask for my advice to find a hobby or enjoy their hobby.  Have something they love to do.  Don’t forget  you like to make clothing or crochet or play guitar, because in the downtimes, which are inevitable, you want something to offset your heart.  It may be just hanging with your family, but have something you love to do.

“It’s very flattering when young actors ask for my advice, but, at the same time, it’s a hard question.   Everybody’s journey and where they go is different.  This is a really, really hard business.  I’m not gonna dance around the subject.  It’s very brutal.  You have to have tough skin.  You have to know that you’re not going to get every part.  I cope by being in a whole new life, apart from acting, where I fulfill myself in different ways.

“For instance, I love to make clothing,”  Manning tells me.  She and a partner recently had a clothing line but had to give it up due to acting commitments and time restraints.  She says, “I had to put my clothing line on the back burner.  It was very, very stressful.  My partner’s an actress.  She ended up getting a lot of work, and I was working, so we couldn’t hold it together.”

Music Fits the Bill

Manning also has an EP coming out early next year.  She says, “It’s gonna be a great album.  The first single, ‘Send Me Your Love’ is doing really well.  People are loving it.  And, I just shot two different types of videos for it.  It’s very exciting for me.  It’s a good song with a lot of meaning and a lot of hard work behind it.  It’s really kind of a spiritual song and is actually about my father, who recently passed away.”

Manning uses her real life experiences to relate to characters she creates.  She says, “You definitely draw on stuff.  I connect with what a character is going through, because I have an imagination and I can, but you can draw on your experiences, because they’re authentic.

Authentic Acting

“When I shot the grave scene for Hawaii Five-0 (“Ohuna” episode), I was connected with what Mary’s going through.  I felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness that I thought Mary would feel.  That’s why that scene really spoke to me, because of the authentic emotions that were just pouring out of me.

She continues, “It’s hard for me to watch myself, but a lot of people texted me that I brought tears to their eyes.  That’s such a compliment.

“Sitting at that grave and thinking of my father, that’s just one aspect of my life.  I’m playing a certain role.  I also have to create a character, and that’s where it gets really fun.  I have to build it in my mind, to give it back story.  It’s a lot of fun.  It really is.”

A New Series

As this goes to print, Manning is in New York shooting her latest project, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

“I’m on nine episodes,” she says.  “So, I’m very excited about that role.  I’m also very excited to go to New York and work.  The cast is awesome.  It’s about a girl who goes to college, gets caught with a lot of drugs, and gets put in jail with all these colorful characters.”

Don’t Give up on Mary

As for Mary, don’t think she’s fallen by the wayside.  “I always do whatever I can to make myself available to play her.  I’ve passed on film roles to play her, because I love the show, and I love Hawaii.  I’ll be playing Mary as long as the show’s on.”

Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover. 

Article originally posted on Suite101.