EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mike C. Manning on His 'Youthful Daze' Character and Producing 'Kidnapped for Christ'

Photo Credit: Brian To/WENN
"People fall in love all the time and sometimes those people happen to be two girls or two guys. That’s it. Deal with it."

Mike C.Manning doesn’t mince words. He is passionate in his beliefs and that’s one of the reasons why he is making a difference in the world. He also has a great sense of humor as you will find out. In a new interview with Serial Scoop, Manning talks about playing the role of Colin on teen soap Youthful Daze, his personal reasons for becoming involved with the award-winning documentary Kidnapped for Christ, and his motivation for staying in such great shape.

SERIAL SCOOP: Hi Mike, I am a big fan of your work. In a short time, you have done so many different projects. How did you become involved with Youthful Daze?
MIKE C.MANNING: First off, thank you. One of the producers, Paul Vandervort, who also plays Brad, is a good friend of mine. One day we were surfing and he said, “I might start working on a web series that I think you’d be interested in. Want me to send it your way?” I watched the first season and saw potential for expansion in Season 2.

SERIAL SCOOP: It's a great series, very funny and entertaining. In Episode 3 of Season 2, your character Colin is invited over to Becca’s (Sarah Hester) house for sex, and she blindfolds him, ties him up, and forces a strawberry deep into his mouth. The scene was quite hilarious. What was it like filming it?
MIKE C.MANNING: I mean, I was being straddled by a beautiful girl and fed fruits. I could have stayed there all day. Plus, Sarah is great to work with. She’s talented and brings a very natural quality to her acting.

Becca blindfolds Colin on Youthful Daze.
SERIAL SCOOP: She is really talented, and when I spoke to her she said she really enjoyed working with you too. Colin seemed like a sweet and lovable guy. Anything you can reveal about him when he makes his eventual return to the series?
MIKE C.MANNING: In life I think that sometimes the most carefree people are the ones harboring the most pain. Although Colin will try and maintain that demeanor, we will definitely see him tackle some internal issues that make “happy” almost impossible.

SERIAL SCOOP: I'm looking forward to your return and how your story plays out. Can you tell me a little bit about Kidnapped for Christ? You're one of the executive producers of the documentary. It also was a Special Jury Award Winner at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. How did you become involved?
MIKE C.MANNING: I became involved with Kidnapped for Christ because my friend David was actually sent to the school in the documentary. The film sheds a light on the abuse that goes on in these camps, both in the US and around the world. Shortly after becoming involved and hearing heartbreaking stories from teens around the country, I called Lance Bass (who’s been a friend since we hosted together on the American Music Awards) and said, “Hey man, you have to hear about this.” The rest is history. I’m very excited to announce that since its premiere, the film sold and will air on Showtime July 10th.

SERIAL SCOOP: That's great. I am glad so many people are now going to have an opportunity to see it. You are also an executive producer on another documentary, An Act of Love [a documentary about Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for violating church law for officiating his son's wedding to another man It follows Frank and his family as they fight for LGBT inclusion in the church].
MIKE C.MANNING: It's a powerful story that I think people need to see. I’m currently producing it with Kate Logan, the director of Kidnapped for Christ. For this one, Scott Sheppard is directing and Pauley Perrette (NCIS) is also signed on as an executive producer.

Editor's Note: Kidnapped for Christ chronicles the shocking truth behind Escuela Caribe, a controversial Christian behavior modification program in the Dominican Republic for “troubled” American teens. Unbeknownst to many, these alleged transformational schools exist worldwide, are unregulated by the government, and collectively make up a jaw-dropping billion dollar industry.

SERIAL SCOOP: It's a fascinating story. On a lighter note, what is your workout routine like? You clearly stay in shape!
MIKE C.MANNING: A strict diet of strawberries, being force-fed to you by girls in lingerie; that and going to the gym four times a week! [laughs] I like to stay active with things like surfing, hiking, wake boarding, anything that doesn’t involve lots of running.

SERIAL SCOOP: You are considered a sex symbol by many people. Do you feel any pressure to maintain that image?
MIKE C.MANNING: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more self-conscious living in Hollywood than I was growing up in Colorado. Every time I take a picture and it ends up online people have something to say, sometimes good and sometime not so good. Oh well.

SERIAL SCOOP: I've seen the pictures, I don't know what anyone could say that wouldn't be good. [laughs] As I mentioned before, you have been involved in many projects. Excluding Colin from Youthful Daze, what has been your favorite role?
MIKE C.MANNING: I had a blast playing Nick Swift in the Disney Channel movie Cloud 9. He’s a bit of a punk in the beginning of the film, but has a good heart and comes around by the end. For that one, I spent two months in Utah snowboarding and acting – my perfect winter.

SERIAL SCOOP: I recently watched it.  Yes, I watch Disney movies. [laughs] A lot of your fans enjoyed it.  What will they enjoy about your role on Youthful Daze?
MIKE C.MANNING: It will be something they haven’t seen me do before, a character different than I’ve played. I’m just as excited to do it as I am for everyone to see it.

SERIAL SCOOP: What is your take on the Tommy (Ethan Daniel Corbett) and Drew (Bryan James) love story that is unfolding on Youthful Daze?
MIKE C.MANNING: If writers are going to create stories that imitate real life, they should try and include all types of people. Bryan (also the creator of the series) is doing that. ART imitates LIFE and LIFE imitates ART.  People fall in love all the time and sometimes those people happen to be two girls or two guys. That’s it. Deal with it.


Thank you to Mike C. Manning! Youthful Daze is available at http://www.youthfuldaze.com. Look for a brand new episode every Sunday night! For more information on Kidnapped for Christ, visit http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jessica Osgood Talks Teen Soap 'Youthful Daze'
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ethan Daniel Corbett on 'Youthful Daze' and Playing Tommy Dinato
* EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sarah Hester on 'Youthful Daze and the joy of playing bitchy Becca Malone
* Award-Winning Documentary 'Kidnapped For Christ' Coming to Showtime July 10th

Michael Goldberg is a freelance writer, producer and actor from Chicago. He regularly contributes television and web series features to Serial Scoop.

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