EXCLUSIVE: 'OITNB' Star Taryn Manning on Tiffany's Choice to Forgive and Estrangement From Her Brother
By Stacy Lambe
Photo: Getty Images
Warning: Some spoilers for fans who have not watched all of Orange Is the New Black season four.
"That's the deal: We don't know exactly what we're going to do," Taryn Manning tells ET about playing Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. "We're not privy to the plot and the big twists and the turns. But I don't want to be. I think that's very par for the course. It's like, here, life unfolds as life unfolds."
For Manning, that meant seeing a budding relationship between Tiffany and Correctional Officer Charlie "Donuts" Coates (James McMenamin) go from flirty to tragic after Charlie rapes her in season three.
Once one of the show's villains, who targeted Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) in season one, Tiffany has become one its most endearing characters, adding a bit of levity to her initial crazy. So for fans, it came as a shock when Tiffany became a victim of Charlie's unwanted advances.
"The whole thing is upsetting," Manning says, especially for the two actors. "We're not bad people. I'm not really a prison inmate and he's not a rapist." Manning and McMenamin had to figure out how to act out the scene onscreen, opting not to make it aggressive or violent. "I just wanted to check out and be done with this" she says.
Season four, which picks up immediately after the season three finale, sees Tiffany struggling with what it means to be a victim. "You know the difference between pain and suffering? Pain's always there, but suffering is a choice," Tiffany tells Carrie "Big Boo" Black (Lea DeLaria) at one point, tired of cowering around Charlie.
If the rape was controversial, Tiffany's choice to forgive Charlie might be seen as even more shocking. "[Creator] Jenji Kohan literally studies us humans and gives us little pieces of us within all the characters," Manning says. "And I think that she knows that I would have forgiven somebody, because I do feel that the ultimate forgiveness is forgiving yourself for any troubles that you've caused people."
As for season five, Manning promises the story becomes even more epic, as the prisoners deals with the fallout from the death of one of their own and the ensuing riot. "You're just going to be beside yourselves," she says. "It just keeps getting better. Like, I can't even keep up with the greatness."
While Manning has a successful acting career, with 15 years onscreen in Oscar-nominated films such as 8 Mile, Cold Mountain and Hustle & Flow, as well as Orange Is the New Black, she's also landed on the charts as a singer.
Most notably, Manning and her brother, Kellin, formed the band Boomkat, releasing their debut album, Boomkatalog. One, in 2003. The group's first single, "The Wreckoning," even reached No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart.
While the band never became a runaway hit, Boomkat's music was featured in several movies and the group even released a second album via the independent label Little Vanilla Records.
However, Manning shuts down any promise of new music from her and her brother. "We're estranged, to be honest," she says. "My brother is like my second half. You know, he’s everything to me but we had to part ways."
"I still do music and I have music coming out, but nothing as good as what me and my brother did together," Manning says, referring to her solo career. She has released several singles, including 2012's "Send Me Your Love," which landed at No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. "My brother always says it sucks. And it's true, there's nothing that I put out there like what he and I did."
But Manning still seems hopeful about her new music, promising a mix of dance and alternative pop. "I think it's going to do well once I freaking put it out," she says of the 130 songs she's recorded, joking that they will all be released on one album. "It's not for the A.D.D."