Actor, Writer, Activist and Producer Mike C. Manning chats with RyeTheNewsGuy.com about his run on The Real World: D.C., Activism, and some of his new projects including Disney Channel's Cloud 9. He is making a real difference in this world, and I was thrilled he made time to chat with us!
What was it like being apart of The Real World: D.C., did you enjoy the experience?
It was unlike anything I had ever done before. I never watched the show and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I followed a friend to an audition to get HIM on the show, and the rest is history. It was a great experience and undoubtedly changed my life.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast members from your season?
Emily most of all. The others I talk to once in a while and they're all friends, but Emily will always have a special place in my heart.
What was life like afterthe show? Do you regret anything from being on there?
After the show my life was completely different. I went from being someone that was pretty private to having my life and personal moments broadcast around the world. But I'm proud of the things I accomplished on the show and the bonds I formed with my roommates, family and those I met in DC. I don't regret a thing.
You do a lot of work with the Human Right Campaign. Can you tell us a little bit more about your role in the campaign?
It was great connecting with the HRC while I was in DC. They taught me a lot about the power of pushing your elected officials to do the right thing. I lobbied members of Congress while on the show, and then after the show I spent two years traveling and speaking to colleges and universities about youth activism and politics.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the movie you produced with Lance Bass called Kidnapped for Christ? Where did the idea come from?
Kidnapped for Christ is a documentary film about three American teenagers that were sent to a "reform camp" in the Dominican Republic. These camps are all over the world (yes, in the US too) and are not regulated by the government at all. Teens are mentally and physically abused in a lot of these places and people don't even know until it's too late. I found out about the film through a friend, signed on to help, and after a few months called Lance and said, "hey buddy, you have to be part of this." We sold it to Showtime in July of this year and have been getting a great response. It also just became available on iTunes this week!
You have starred in a variety of films from: e-Cupid, I do, Case Number 13, Operation Cupcake, and most recently Cloud 9 on Disney Channel. What was it like being in all of those, and which was your favorite?
Case #13 is set to come out later this year. That was a great film to do because Johnny Martin (the director) let me do all my own stunts. I'd say that overall Cloud 9 has been my favorite project so far. Disney is a great company to work for - and it was filming and snowboarding for two months in Utah. Heaven.
Can you tell us a little bit about your foundations you work closely with called "Boo 2 Bullying" and "My Life My Power?"
Those are both incredible organizations committed to ending bullying in schools. I like both of these because they don't just say "bullying is wrong." They encourage others to speak up if they see someone being bullied, to be part of the solution and not the problem. I'm an official Youth Ambassador for Boo 2 Bullying along with the beautiful Cassie Scerbo, not bad company. ;)
Aside from acting you are also a producer and writer, you recently help Co-found Chhibber Mann Productions. How did the role of producing come into play?
I've always been a storyteller. As a child I would write story after story in journals I bought. When I was 13 I started doing community theater and learning about other actors and writers. Now that I'm older, I've learned how powerful stories can be to expose people to new ideas and ways of thinking, stories that help people. For some of those stories I'll be in front of the camera, and for some of them my place is behind the camera helping others bring them to life.
I began writing a political TV pilot last year with my producing partner, Vinny Chhibber. We realized that we had many of the same interests in politics and telling stories that do "social good," so we formed the company to do just that. He's a very talented guy and I couldn't have asked for anyone better to work with.
You also are really big into sports. What is your favorite?
Growing up I played hockey, football and wrestled. I think hockey will always be my favorite "team sport," but now I mostly snowboard, surf, outdoor stuff.
Throughout your time on The Real World we saw you talk openly about your Christian faith, and how much it meant to you. How do you feel about the Pope saying that the Catholic Church should be more welcoming to the LGBT community? Also what advice can you give to people who are gay or lesbian, and are questioning their faith?
I think that throughout history religion has been used for amazing things, helping people and bringing communities together. It has also been used as a weapon and a tool for discrimination. In any case, the religion I choose to follow doesn't discriminate against anyone, period.
You grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I visit there quite frequently as I have most of my family there. What do you enjoy most about Ft. Lauderdale, and what are some of your favorite things to do there?
I moved to Colorado when I was quite young, but would visit my grandparents in Florida every summer. I miss the beaches. I remember the water being warmer than it is in LA.
How can we learn more about what you are up to?
I'm pretty good about posting things on Twitter and Facebook.@mikecmanning for both!
Are you currently dating someone? Are you able to tell us whom?
As an actor a lot of my life is out there for the public to see. That's fine, because it was my choice to follow this profession. But I do value the private moments I'm able to have with my someone special, so I'd like to keep those private if I can help it.
What has been your favorite show to watch on TV this season?
I'm a big "binge watcher." I'll go through a season in a few days. So anything on Netflix is my favorite. House of Cards most of all.
What is next for Mike C. Manning?
The production company signed on to produce Jeff Grace's film "Folk Hero & Funny Guy" with Wyatt Russell and Alex Karpovsky. We are scheduled to shoot that early next year, so that's pretty exciting.
Have you considered doing Broadway?
Yes. I actually began in the theatre world and would love to go back some day. Not yet, but some day.
What advice can you give to aspiring actors?
Don't give up, and have something to do on the side. It's a lot of rejection, especially in the beginning. Never forget the passion that inspired you to "go for it" in the first place, and do what you can to keep that flame burning bright.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My dad. I've never known anyone to work harder in my life. I definitely get my work ethic from him.
Finish this sentence... Mike C. Manning is?
A human being... or so you think. ;)
Keep up with Mike by visiting him on the following!
Editor's Note: This interview was published in 2014 under "The Positivity Project" before becoming RyeTheNewsGuy.com in 2015. RyeTheNewsGuy.com has replaced the name "The Positivity Project" in these interviews.