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  • Annette Dawm

Introducing the Actor’s Agenda with Mike Manning

On April 19, 2024, Mike Manning was humbled to discover that he had been nominated for a another Daytime Emmy® Award his work on The Bay. This is his second time in the “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series” category.

“I’m very excited because last time, it was during COVID times. I gave my acceptance speech to an empty room. So this is going to be the first time that I’ll be at The Emmy’s as a nominee!” Manning explained.

“….Finding out about the Emmy nomination this morning was pretty incredible! Also, The Bay is now a Category One show. So it’s no longer in the ‘Daytime Digital’ category. It’s up against the network shows and it’s considered a network show by The Daytime Emmy’s! It’s really incredible to be among that company and also to be recognized by TV Academy members, voters and fellow actors for my work on The Bay…. I just want to say that I’m so grateful for the Emmy nomination because it’s so fresh and so new…. If anybody in The Television Academy is listening, I just want to say thank you to them for voting for me! Thank you to everybody involved with The Bay—my Bay Family. They gave me material this year that I could really sink my teeth into and I think it shows. It always takes a village. There are a ton of people involved with the Emmy nominations. I just want to say thank you to them! I’m just happy to be nominated, to be honest. I don’t have any expectations. I’m just excited to go to The Emmy Awards ceremony where there will actually be people there….”

For the most part, Mike was unable to work during The SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes. However, since they came to an end, he has been very busy with various film and television projects like The Engagement Dress and Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife. There are several other films that are still in production.

According to Manning, “During the strike, I was able to be a part of interim agreement projects. So it wasn’t completely dead for me. Obviously, in the TV space, everything was completely shut down. That was really tough, but I think that some of the contract points and the negotiation points that SAG had to discuss with the Hollywood industry at large were necessary…. SAG had to put some things into the agreements regarding AI and new residual structures and other protections for actors that will impact us for decades to come. So I think that the strikes were necessary to a certain extent. I would have liked for them to be much shorter. There are obviously things that I would like for SAG to do a little bit differently, but overall I’m grateful for them. I’m grateful that they protect actors and that they have our backs.”

In 2023, The Engagement Dress was released on Tubi. The movie centres on a magical dress that has helped generations of women receive a proposal.

The Engagement Dress was filmed in Kentucky. That was great! ….I had never played the lead in a romantic comedy like that. It was just fun to step into that world where, you know, love wins and everyone’s just a little bit happier and a little bit more romantic. Romantic comedies have a certain tone about them and I really enjoyed that experience. We shot at this big mansion with this huge yard! There were animals and a forest! It was beautiful! I didn’t want to leave. It felt like theatre camp! It was like I went away with a bunch of friends and we just happened to be shooting a movie….”

In contrast to The Engagement Dress, Mike also stars in the Lifetime thriller, Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife. It is currently available to watch in The United States. He described his character, Jason as someone who was “very sexual and very primal” but noted that he also “had a sweet side” before he became obsessed with the pastor’s wife.

“….I don’t want to say that it was a ‘bad guy’ character that I played, but he makes some questionable choices…”

“The movie itself is about a woman who is married to a pastor.” He continued. “In public, the pastor preaches family values, loving his wife and having a strong family unit…. In private, he doesn’t really practice that. He doesn’t pay attention to his wife. He is kind of an awful person. I play Jason, a pool boy that comes into her life and slowly but surely, I seduce her and stuff happens! Then I become obsessed with her and more stuff happens! I don’t want to give any spoilers away but I worked with Jennings Rice. She was great! She played Angie, the pastor’s wife. She was a fantastic scene partner and really carried the movie. Danny J. Boyle directed it and he was great! I just had a fantastic time shooting it with everybody.”

Along with being an actor, producer and writer, Mike can now add podcast host to his resume. Prior to creating The Actor’s Agenda, Mike said that he had spent the last six years teaching acting workshops and attending networking events. During this time, aspiring actors would often ask him “the same questions over and over again” about the business side of the entertainment industry.

“….Something dawned on me. I realized there’s a ton of information out there on the craft—on how to build a character, how to break down a scene—but there’s not a lot of information out there on the industry.”

He mentioned that so much has changed since the pandemic with regards to self-tapes and how auditions should be approached. However, that information is not readily available either.

“...I wanted to create a place where I could talk to other actors and other entertainment professionals so that we can give people that information….” In addition to speaking about his own career, Mike hopes to share “what beginning and intermediate actors can do to make their lives easier along this artistic pursuit.” One of his goals is to focus on people who see acting as “a grind”, who might still have jobs outside of the entertainment industry. “They’re not going to be household names yet.”

That being said, his dream guests include Barbie and Ken themselves, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling!

“I would just love to interview any of my favourite actors that are working today. For example, I had a very, very small part in Babylon with Margot Robbie…. I would love to interview her further on her career. She started on an Australian soap opera and now she’s one of the biggest stars in the world.”

“I would love to talk to Ryan Gosling about his journey, especially since he’s having his renaissance right now after ‘Ken’. I just think that his career has taken on a different form after playing Ken and there was an amazing response that Margot Robbie, Greta Gerwig and Ryan Gosling got from their parts in Barbie and making it happen. I think Ryan is now being more daring with the roles he’s taking. Performing ‘I’m Just Ken’ at The Oscars? That was insane! That was so entertaining and it was my favourite moment at The Oscars! So, I feel like I would love to talk to him about it. I would love to talk to Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and of course, the greats like Meryl Streep!”

Episodes are released every Wednesday on a multitude of different platforms, which is something that Mike chose to do on purpose:

“I’m new to podcasting. I’m sort of figuring it all out. I know what I want to talk about and I know the types of guests that I want to have. I’m not as familiar with how my audience will want to receive the podcast yet. I’m trying everything. I’m putting it on Spotify for listeners. I’m putting it on YouTube for people to watch the videos. I’m also putting it on Google Play and other places. I’m just going to keep releasing episodes and … I’ll see how the audience digests the podcasts. Then I’ll focus on that. I’m learning as I go but I am having fun in the process!"

"I record live in a studio with a guest sitting across from me. I have editors to put the video together and I have the audio recording. Before I release the podcast, I record a little intro with my friend, Clementine Heath who is also an actress. She and I react to the episode so that audiences know what they’re getting before we jump into the interview. There are other podcasts that do that and I really like that. I appreciate that it allows me to set my mind up for what I am expecting to learn from the interview. So I wanted to do my interviews that way.”

“My long-term goals for the podcast are to be able to regularly interview people in the industry that I like and respect. I would like to continue to talk about cool things but to also fine-tune the topics that I have…. I am definitely paying attention to comments about the podcast and what people like and don’t like…. Based on those reactions, I think I will eventually get to a place where… I have more listeners and more people engaging with the podcast. I’ll know exactly what they want to hear and be able to give them what they want… but the reasons that I started the podcast will always inform how I chat with people…."

"I drive a bunch and I love listening to podcasts because it gives me something to do while I sit in traffic. My goal for this podcast is for it to be something that people look forward to listening to while they’re running errands or driving around, or maybe late at night before they go to bed. However they consume podcasts, I want to be at the top of their minds when it comes out….”

In the first episode, Leah McKendrick explained how she asked various other creative professionals to help her complete her projects. In her opinion, she asked for things she had “no business asking for”, but surprisingly, most people said yes.

When asked if a similar situation had occurred in his own life, Mike replied, “Yes! I co-wrote a script that was inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau (by H.G. Wells) and we named it Eyes in the Trees. I’m working with a producer. Her name is Artisha Mann Cooper. I worked with her on a couple of films and so I sent her the script.”

“She liked it and she said, ‘Okay, who should we go to for one of these roles?’ We were all talking as a team and Anthony Hopkins’ name came up. Never in a million years did I think that Anthony Hopkins would say yes to a project that I wrote! I never thought that he’d be saying the lines that came out of my brain! Then his team said yes and that was incredible! He’s one of the most iconic actors of all time and the fact that I get to do a movie with him is insane! That just happened within the last year and we’re still finishing the movie. I can’t say a lot about it…. I can say that once the movie is finished it will have been a dream to work with Sir Anthony Hopkins! ….When our film is out, I want to interview Sir Anthony Hopkins!”

Until Mike gets the chance to interview Sir Anthony Hopkins, he is quite happy to have discussions with his friends each week on the podcast:

“I think it’s important to share on my podcast what my guests have achieved because, as artists, I think we tend to be hard on ourselves. We tend to gloss over the ‘wins’. Sometimes we focus more on the losses and the things that we wished we had done. When we see what others are doing, we compare ourselves to other people. So, I think it’s important every once in a while to stop and take inventory on the good things in your life and to take inventory on all of the things you’ve accomplished in the last year or two, or whatever. If I can sort of be a vessel to do that for my friends on my podcast, I think that helps celebrate them. That’s a great thing, but it also allows everybody listening to be on that journey with us and to discover how they got those accomplishments and how they were able to do what they did. Then hopefully they can use those tips and tricks to climb their own ladder in pursuit of their acting careers.”

Throughout his conversations, Mike has discovered that many of his guests started out on a path that was similar to his own. However, all of their paths have diverged into different aspects of the entertainment industry. For example, Rahul Rai started out as an actor and a dancer, but more recently found additional success by utilizing social media.

Vinny Chhibber and I had similar journeys. We moved to Los Angeles around the same time. I’m so glad that he was a guest, because not only did he and I have a production company together and produce a lot of our own content—so we were able to talk about that— but we also had similar journeys in terms of starting out on smaller projects. Then we worked our ways into bigger and bigger projects and now he’s on For All Man Kind on Apple TV+. That’s fantastic!”

“I’ve been a series regular on a handful of shows too, and so we’re sort of on similar trajectories within an artistic space. It’s sort of fun to compare how he and I got there…. The top of the mountain is sort of the same but there are many, many ways to get there…. Everybody wants to have independence in their career. They want to make movies that pay them a good wage and they want to play characters that excite them. Everybody wants to have similar things but there are many different ways to get up the mountain.”

David Archuleta has been one of my favourite guests so far, not only because I learned about the music industry… but I also have such respect for David and how vulnerable he’s been with his new single, ‘Hell Together’. It’s about his Mormonism and his family and his mom. His mom loved him through his own struggles with his sexuality and coming out. It’s just a really happy ending because he and his mom are closer than ever and happier than ever! It’s definitely nice when that happens! I was so impressed by his ability to be vulnerable and share himself with his fans through his music. I think that’s why he’s having success right now.”

Colton Tran and I met on a movie called Cloud 9 on The Disney Channel. It was a snowboarding movie but then he went onto direct a handful of horror movies. I went onto The Bay and Days of our Lives and This Is Us. So we started in similar places but ended up going in different directions. We’re still friends. We’re both still here and still doing it. That’s all we can ask for, I guess.”

Speaking of This Is Us, Mike took on the role of “The Manny” in the final season, which was a huge surprise to his parents: “….My parents have always been supportive but, their reaction when I told them about This Is Us, was unlike anything I’d ever seen or heard from them! They were so happy because it was their favourite show! They watched every single episode and they loved it! When I told him that I was going to be ‘The Manny’, they flipped out! So that was really cool! Justin Hartley is such a great actor and the fact that I could play a role that he had previously played on the show was fantastic! It was a great role for me because I was able to show some comedy in there. It was obviously a very grounded, emotional show but there were these quirky, comedic moments, especially with my character. It was fun to do that…. I would have loved to be that character for many more seasons, but hopefully I’ll get to work with Justin and that team again.”

Recently, it was announced that there will be a This Is Us re-watch podcast titled, That Was Us. So it is possible that Mike could reconnect with his cast-mates that way.

Each episode of The Actor’s Agenda concludes with Mike Manning asking his guest what advice they would give to their younger self. After giving some thought about what his own answer would be, he replied, “….If I could tell young Mike anything—especially if he was starting out in the entertainment industry—I would say, ‘Don’t be afraid to do it your own way and it will all work out.’ That’s what I would say because I think a lot of us, we operate out of fear….”

“I would also tell him to behave as though it’s already happening. Somebody told me that years ago and it was just so beautiful. Behave in faith. Behave as though you’re doing the right thing and that the outcome is inevitable. You’re going to get there. It’s just a matter of time. So what that does is it allows somebody who truly believes that to sort of release control where they can. Then they can maintain control and a strong work ethic where they should. It just makes things a lot less stressful and a lot more pleasant. I think that young Mike would have a more pleasant journey in this crazy industry that we call entertainment if I had learned that sooner.”

For more information, please follow Mike Manning and The Actor’s Agenda on Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Troy Hallahan.

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If you would like to read a previous article about Mike, please click here.



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