Taryn Manning has been in films and on television since 1994, often in supporting roles opposite bigger names like Britney Spears in "Crossroads," Eminem in "8 Mile," Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow," and Charlie Hunnam on "Sons of Anarchy." The role of Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett on Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black" might have been just another ancillary entry on Manning's IMDb page, except the actress has been a scene stealer as the antagonistic drug addict turned born-again Christian. Now an official series regular, Manning chatted with me about Season 2, what horrifies her most about the role, her real-life legal battle, and which app could make prison time more pleasurable.
Last season ended with a major cliffhanger, where your character appeared to be at death's door. What can you tell us about what's to come in Season 2?
Oy, I'm not really allowed to tell anything, because I can get in trouble, so I have to stay ambiguous and not very fun. The show's been received quite well, and there's a lot of curiosity about what's going on, so we've had a lot of meetings internally, schooling us about what we can and cannot say. So I'm just going to keep it simple and not say anything.
Can you say whether your character survives the fight?
Yeah, I can say that. That was a big announcement in the trades, so I can talk about that.
I know you're in Season 2, but I wasn't sure if it's as a living person or as a deceased person in flashbacks.
I don't know, 'cause they can edit things however they want. So I'm not sure how to answer that question. That's actually a good question and a creative way to look at it.
I read that Laura Prepon auditioned for a different character than she ended up with. Did you initially audition for your character?
I didn't audition, because I just got the part offered to me. I loved it and didn't need to look any further. I was sold.
What made them want you for the role?
Maybe 'cause they knew I was a freak? Just kidding.
Is there another character you'd want to play?
No, not at all. I love my character.
So do fans of the show. One of the interesting things about your character, especially in 2014, is that she's extremely homophobic. Are there moments when you shudder at some of her lines?
Yeah, sometimes I'm just horrified by my character. I can't even believe her. She's lost it. But that's what's cool. I'm playing a complete character, because I'm not racist, and I'm not anti-gay. I have friends and cousins who are black. I have full-blown African-American cousins, and several of my best friends are gay. So that's been tough, but that's also part of the fun.
I read that you had to study up on Christianity in preparation for your role. Where do you turn for research?
Definitely Wikipedia and YouTube. I end up watching a lot of documentaries, too, so I go on Netflix and look things up.
Your first character to win you substantial attention was Janeane in Eminem's "8 Mile." What are your best and worst memories from that experience?
Overall, it was awesome. Eminem's a really amazing guy. He's really funny. It was really cool, a really life-changing experience to be around him, day in and day out, and to get a sense of him and what he's all about. But that experience was bittersweet for me, because Brittany Murphy was a really good friend of mine, and losing her was very hard. It was a pretty traumatic experience, but I still wouldn't have traded working on it for anything.
As a Netflix series regular, what are your thoughts on the future of television? Will we eventually rely entirely on services such as Netflix and YouTube to access new series?
Yeah, because users can choose their own adventures. The accessibility of having what you want to watch when you want to watch it is appealing to viewers. I think we're moving into that format permanently. Between "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," it's already very exciting.
You avoided jail time yourself in 2012, when you were accused of assault by an assistant. Is there anything you can share about that experience?
Oh, I'm good to go. She was my good friend, and she regrets it and dropped the charges. It wasn't as weird as the press and public made it out to be. It's crazy how you could have a career for so long, and people only seem to notice when you get in trouble. But it was really wack and eye opening, and that whole experience changed my life. It was so weird and fast and unjust and so telling to how people gravitate to the negative stuff more than positive stuff. I saw how within minutes my life changed from hanging out with the wrong people who don't have your best interests at heart and latching onto you for the wrong reason and sucking you dry.
So I've learned that it's important to evaluate people and make sure they have your best interests at heart before you let them in. There's a whole backstory about it that I won't lower myself to discuss publicly. But have fun doing that, friend. This isn't the world I live in, so I'm going to let this pass and keep it moving and not have you in my life anymore.
If you were in jail and handed an iPhone with only one app on it, which app would you prefer?
I don't want to sound corny, but an app called Thebestselfhelpbooksofalltime. It's like 30 of the greatest self-help books. Not just "The Power of Now," but the deep ones, too. Deep spiritual books about who are you, and what's your purpose in life. I feel like that would keep you busy.
It's not like I'm a mess or anything; it's just I enjoy all that reading. I like reading things that help you separate your ego from the truth or stuff that makes you ponder life more deeply.
You have so much going on, professionally, between your acting, music, DJing, and fashion. Which software do you use for DJing?
I can show up and play on a record player or CDJ with Serato. I've taken the DJ thing very seriously. It's important to me that people can come out and see me and say, "Yeah, she's good," because of that whole actor who DJs stigma.
Which software do you use to produce music?
I work on Ableton for production and on-the-fly production, and Pro Tools is very good for recording vocals. For DJing I use Ableton as well, if I want to incorporate sounds, triggers, or samples. I've definitely transitioned out of Logic.
What are your favorite apps overall?
I have so many. In New York City, I use Uber a lot. I use Seamless, 'cause I like delivery. I use Yelp a lot. I use Google Maps. I have some travel ones, too, like Expedia and CheapAir, and then I've got a bunch of music programs. I use Pandora like crazy, along with SoundCloud and Shazam. I use Instagram. Find My iPhone is a really good one. Camera+ for all my camera needs. Hotel Tonight is so great, 'cause you find nice hotel rooms for cheap, on the fly. Flashlight rules for those dark nights. I use Airbnb, if I have someone coming to town and want to put them somewhere for a length of time.