'OITNB's Pennsatucky In Real Life: Taryn Manning Is An Actress-Singer-Songwriter-Designer
Netflix's acclaimed prison dramedy Orange Is The New Black is chock-full of lovable-but-flawed characters that we'll see it all again when Season 2 debuted this Friday. The show's terrific cast of female inmates are all well-rounded, three-dimensional portraits of real women with hopes, dreams, and weaknesses, all of which combine to make them highly relatable. That's what's so great about OITNB: no matter what crime the prisoners may have committed to land themselves in Litchfield Penitentiary, there's not a single character on the show you can straight-up hate. (Except for Pornstache, but that goes without saying, amiright?)
And then there's Pennsatucky. Sure, the zealously religious former meth-addict racist faith healer is fun to watch, but she's also pretty hard to love. First of all, she landed in Litchfield after she shot an abortion clinic worker in broad daylight — not exactly a badge of honor. She also has a violent vendetta against Piper, despite her sworn enemy actually being responsible for getting Pennsatucky released from the psych ward — so, not great friend material, either. But we'd be lying if we said we weren't excited to see what happens between Piper and Pennsatucky after Season 1's nail-biting cliffhanger of a showdown.
Given Pennsatucky's vitriolic nature and infamous "meth mouth," you'd probably be surprised to learn that her portrayer, 35-year-old Taryn Manning, is a surprisingly lovely and talented young woman... and chances are you've seen her somewhere before, although you may not remember where it was you first encountered her. Well, I'm here to put that mystery to rest. One of Manning's very first film roles was in the 2002 insta-classic Crossroads. Yes, the movie that simultaneously launched and ended Britney Spears' acting career. Manning played Mimi, one of Lucy's (Spears) best friends. (Who played the other friend, Kit? A pre-fame Zoe Saldana of course.)
Manning followed up Crossroads with roles in two other music-themed movies: Eminem's 8 Mile and Terrence Howard-starring Hustle & Flow. She has acted in plenty of non-musical films as well, including small parts in White Oleander and Cold Mountain. And she's also appeared on television before, with guest star parts on the likes of The Practice, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order SVU, as well as recurring roles on Sons Of Anarchy and Hawaii Five-0.
But Manning isn't just an actress. She's also a successful singer-songwriter: She formed the band Boomkat in 2003 with her brother Kellin. Their first album, Boomkatalog.One dropped on March 18 of that year with two singles, "The Wreckoning" and "What U Do 2 Me." Music from that album was featured in several movies around that time, including Crossroads and 8 Mile, but also non-Manning films like Mean Girls and The Italian Job. After Boomkat released its second album, A Million Trillion Stars, in 2009, Manning went solo. She came out with several singles — like "So Talented" (which was featured in an episode of Melrose Place ), "Spotlight" (which was featured on Hawaii Five-0), and most recently "Send Me Your Love," digitally released worldwide in August of 2012 — although she has yet to drop a full solo album.
But Manning isn't just an actress-singer-songwriter. She's also a successful fashion designer: she founded the clothing line Born Uniqorn in 2005 with her friend Tara Jane. Listing Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, and Kate Winslet as her fashion icons, Manning won the Film Fashion Visionary Award at the 2009 Bel Air Film Festival.
Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about all the different hats Manning wears on a daily basis. It's a miracle she found the time to star on OITNB — a miracle we'll be forever thankful for, since we can't imagine the show without foul-mouthed Pennsatucky.
Images: Netflix; Wifflegif (2); FX; DreamWorks Records