Photo: William Callan Soap Opera News had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Days of Our Lives' latest cast member Mike Manning !...
Soap Opera News had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Days of Our Lives' latest cast member Mike Manning! Join us below as we talk about new projects, soaps, Emmys, and that one quarantine goal that has eluded him!
“I knew I always loved acting but I grew up in Colorado and I didn’t really understand that you could make a living as an actor. It just wasn’t something in my world,” Manning recalled. In a strange twist of fate, when he was in college he attended an audition for MTV’s The Real World: DC with a friend, who wanted to be on the show. “I had never watched the show before. I didn’t know what it was about. So, I followed him to the audition to help him get on the show and I ended up getting picked,” he laughed. “We filmed in Washington, D.C. and I feel like that was the best place that I could have potentially been at because it got me involved in politics. During the course of the show, I went from somebody who really didn’t know much about politics at all to by the end of the show I was meeting with Senators and members of Congress and talking about really important laws. My growth on the show was really positive.”
We were excited to talk with Mike since he just recently made his soap opera debut as Charlie Dale on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. He told us that he had been auditioning for the show for some time but never found a role that was the right fit. “Finally, I went in and it was just the right time. I just love the show and everything that we’ve done so far.” He also spoke highly of his castmate, Isabel Durant (Claire). “It’s been wonderful working with [her]. I think fans can tell that there’s sort of a blossoming romance there. She has just been so kind, so gracious. Being the new kid in school, I’m really lucky to have a scene partner like her.”
Manning’s character has certainly brought a sense of curiosity to fans. Who is he? What does he want? “I don’t know how much has been released yet but he’s quite a complex character. I’ve been reading some of the message boards online and I know that there are a few theories on who he is. So, that’s really fun. I think it’s going to be a wild ride and I hope that people like me.” And he revealed that he is on contract with the series. So, we’ll have plenty of time to unearth whatever secrets Charlie holds!
He shared that luckily his work on the digital drama, The Bay, prepared him for his new role in daytime in more ways than one. “I’ve never been on a soap before. The closest thing that I have been on was The Bay. That was a really great experience for me because Mary Beth Evans and Brandon Beemer from the show are also on Days. So, that kind of prepared me for everything I am doing.” Manning plays Caleb McKinnon on the drama and its upcoming spinoff, yA, where he had the opportunity to play the same character on two series at the same time. “It was an experience that I don’t think I will ever have again but it was really a lot of fun. Like I woke up and thought I was Caleb McKinnon. We shot Season 6 this summer and it was the first thing I had shot since January. When I found out about Days of Our Lives I panicked a little bit. I was like oh, my gosh. I haven’t been on a set all of 2020. I’m going to show up and forget how to act. Then I found out that we were shooting The Bay at a secluded ranch so it was really great to be able to do that.”
In addition, the actor’s latest film, The Call, where he stars alongside Horror legends Lin Shaye and Tobin Bell, was just released. The project follows a group of friends who try to survive the night after the death of a woman they had terrorized. “They are challenged to make one phone call to win $100,000 but when they get on the phone they are transported into their own versions of Hell. It’s definitely not a family comedy,” he joked.
When he isn’t on screen, he is behind the scenes producing some incredible projects. “I started doing social documentaries about the causes I care about. My most recent film, Lost In America, is about homeless youth. We have Rosario Dawson, Jewel, Tiffany Haddish, and Halle Berry in the film and they talk about why as a society in America we need to come together and help homeless kids. And I think for me in terms of the projects that I am most proud of and I hope leaves a lasting impact on this world after I’m gone...I feel that the project is the one I’m most proud of.”
Another proud moment came in the form of an Emmy...in the mail! Manning was a producer on the fifth season of The Bay, where the cast and crew won for Outstanding Digital Drama. “I just have to say thank you to Gregori Martin and Kristos Andrews for giving me the opportunity. I think that has to be the coolest thing on the producing side for me so far. When I was little and I’d dream about being an actor, I never thought that I’d be holding an Emmy.”
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Something arrived in the mail today and I’m pretty excited about it. Because of the stupid pandemic, there weren’t any in-person ceremonies this year. But did that stop me from dressing up to open the box and celebrate at home? Hell no. Dear Emmy, I will love you and care for you and hold you up like I’m King Kong and you’re Ann Darrow and Peter Jackson is chasing us with helicopters. • I am so grateful to everyone involved w/ making this happen. The minds behind @thebaytheseries - @gregorijmartin @kristos @wendyriche @celestefianna the cast, crew, audience. @ntheurer92 You’re all incredible. @dambrosiotwins who would have thought when we met 9 years ago to volunteer for @boo2bullying it would lead to this?! You’re both angels and I’m so glad to know you and your family. • I know shit like this doesn’t happen every day and I promise to pay it forward, to help others who (like me) arrive in Hollywood not knowing a soul to chase a dream that often feels impossible. It’s not. • Love you all. Love you mom and dad... I’m gonna go change back into a T-shirt now. #emmys #happy #awards
While it’s clear that he has done phenomenal work in the industry, it was his activism that inspired us the most. Through his platform, he has been able to bring awareness to many organizations and campaigns like Boo2Bullying and the Thirst Project. “I think I owe that to my Grandfather. My grandparents were a big part of my upbringing and he would always tell me, ‘Leave things better than you found them.’ That’s the philosophy that I use in life. I think that we only have so many hours in a day and I want to make sure that when I leave this world that it is a better place because I was in it.”
We asked Mike if he had any advice for someone who wants to become more active in their community and he had this to say: “You don’t need permission to do the right thing. So many people think that they need to be a certain age or they need to have a degree or whatever it might be in order to make a difference and you really don’t. There are so many great local organizations that are doing things in different communities to help people. So, I would just encourage people to find organizations and just pick up the phone, call them, and say ‘How can I help?”’
As for what’s next for the actor, he is playing in Spike Lee’s upcoming film, Son of the South. “It’s a story about the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in the South. As an actor, that’s a project that I’m really excited about. Especially now with what our country is going through. I think that this is going to be an important movie that makes a lot of people think.”
He also shared that he is trying to knock one more thing off his quarantine bucket list. “You know what I’m trying to do? I’m trying to learn how to juggle and it’s a lot harder than you think. During quarantine, I’m giving myself things to do. I’ve been trying to work out more, spend more time with my dogs, go hiking, and things like that. And one of the things I put on my list - and I’m a very stubborn person - one of the things was juggle. I’ve been able to do a lot of the other things but I just can’t juggle. It’s really frustrating,” he laughed.
Thank you, Mike, for the lovely chat! We cannot wait to see all of your amazing projects. And we really want an update on the juggling!