Exclusive Interview with Mike Manning, Actor and Emmy-Winning Producer
Actor, Producer, and former Reality TV star, Mike Manning dishes on his acting career, philanthropic work, and the spin-off series of The Bay.
Mike Manning truly does it all in the entertainment industry. Starting out in reality TV on The Real World: DC in 2009, he has since gone on to have a stellar acting career, starring in the Disney Channel hit movie Cloud 9, Teen Wolf, Hawaii Five-O, Days of our Lives, The Bay, and so much more! Not only that, but he is also an Emmy-winning producer for The Bay (which he also acts in) and is an avid philanthropist.
We got a chance to chat with the multi-talented heartthrob on his favorite acting projects, exclusive details on the upcoming spin-off series of Amazon Prime Video's The Bay and his time on The Real World: DC. Read the full interview below.
Mike, we have to ask first, how do you have time to do everything you do, from acting to producing to multiple non-profits?
"I don’t sleep. Kidding. I make a lot of lists. When I’m not shooting or on set, I’m constantly reading scripts or looking for the next project. I’m always on the lookout for the next great story to tell or filmmaker to work with. And my non-profit work is just as important to me."
You actually got your start on The Real World: D.C. (Season 23). We read that’s what inspired you to start your own production company Chhibber Mann Productions. Can you share more about that?
"It was on The Real World that I discovered how authentic stories and positive role models in film and TV have the ability to change hearts and minds. I received thousands of messages and letters from people that watched my season, and I decided I wanted to make it part of my life’s mission to continue that type of storytelling. I’ve been in Los Angeles for 10 years now and during that time I’ve produced films with messages pushing for equality in terms of age, gender, race, sexuality, and others. I’m very proud of those films."
You have starred in so many TV hits, including Hawaii Five-O to Teen Wolf. Can you tell us what was your most rewarding acting experience thus far and why?
"“Hawaii Five-0” and “Teen Wolf” were both a lot of fun to shoot, but I’d have to say that my most rewarding acting experience so far has been the recent movie I did called “Son of the South.” It’s executive produced by Oscar-winner Spike Lee, and is about the civil rights movement in the south in the 1960s. I got to work with people like Lucas Till, Lucy Hale, Cedric the Entertainer, Dexter Darden, the late Brian Dennehy, and a handful of other actors I really admire and respect. It’s available in theaters and online now."
If you had to choose acting or producing which would you choose and why?
"I hate you for making me choose. But if I had to, I’d choose acting. There’s something magical about being on set, working with other actors and the director and crew to make an imaginary world come to life."
You won an Emmy for your production work in 2020 for The Bay, a drama series you also starred in. What was that experience like getting recognized with that honor for your work?
"I actually didn’t think it was real until the Emmy showed up in the mail. I kept thinking “they made a mistake. They didn’t mean for me to get one of these!” I’m tremendously grateful for everyone involved with “The Bay” – Gregori, Kristos, Lisa you all know who you are. It’s one of those experiences I’ll never forget."
NBC’s Days of Our Lives has been around for decades and has quite a loyal daytime fan base. What was it like coming in as “Charlie Dale,” knowing the incredible legacy the show has?
"Being part of DAYS so far has been amazing. The cast, crew, everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve loved working with Tamara, Isabel, Paul, everyone really. I was glad I was coming into the show as a new character and not replacing another actor. It really gave me the freedom to create a character from scratch, and the fact that “Charlie” went from being a “good guy” to a “bad guy” gave me a lot of different levels to play. In one scene he can be sweet and innocent, and in another scene he’s kidnapping someone. He’s all over the place."
You also starred in the popular Disney Channel original movie Cloud 9 back in 2014 with Disney staples Dove Cameron and Luke Benward. How was your experience filming with Disney?
"I got to snowboard for three months and shoot a movie! What’s not to love? Disney was a great company to work for, at that age especially. I was newer to the industry back then and after that film I felt like I was part of the “Disney family.” The fan base with those types of movies is pretty large. That film definitely opened doors for me to do other big projects. And Dove and Luke are both amazing, sweet, genuine people. It was great to work with them."
Can you tell us a bit more about your non-profit work? It seems like you have a large range of causes that you are interested in and support.
"There are a handful of different causes I support, but the two non-profits I care about most are Boo2Bullying and Thirst Project. Boo2bullying does great work creating positive content for youth with anti-bullying messages and Thirst Project provides communities around the world with clean drinking water. They both do amazing work and I’m very happy to support them. Check out their websites for more info."
Any upcoming projects you can tell us about? Maybe what we can expect from the spin-off series of The Bay?
"The spinoff series of “The Bay” is called “yA” and it’s coming out later this year. It stars the D’Ambrosio Twins and a handful of crossover characters from “The Bay” make an appearance. For that one, I play the same character “Caleb McKinnon,” but this time he’s a teacher in Bay City. I also have a film called “Slapface” that I just produced, that also has the D’Ambrosio Twins, so it’s pretty cool that we get to work together on a handful of projects at the same time. That one is a horror movie about a monster that lives in the woods, and stars August Maturo and Libe Barer. I play August’s older brother “Tom.”"
We are beyond excited for The Bay spin-off on Amazon Prime Video and can't wait to see all of Mike Manning's new projects! Follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest projects.
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