We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Manning and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I wanted to have a vehicle that would be used for creating content that centers around social issues that myself and my producing partner care about. We are both actors, and have been in the industry for years, but we saw the need for stories with more diverse representation, stronger female characters, and stories that pertain to issues like bullying, the environment, civil rights, promoting the LGBT community, and other social issues that are important to us.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Recently, in Hollywood, I think there has been movement towards diversity, inclusion, representation, and telling stories that are different than some of the traditional POVs that we’ve seen in the past. I think this is fantastic. Film and television has a way of sharing new thoughts and ideas, opening hearts and minds to new ways of thinking and being. That’s part of the reason I got into this business in the first place – to be part of telling those stories. In this day and age, especially with social media, it’s not very common to have someone’s undivided attention like you do in a dark movie theater for 2 hours, or for them to invite you into their living rooms like families do with TV. This provides the opportunity for people to view stories and characters that they may not be exposed to in their everyday lives. It’s not always the easiest to get these stories made, but when we do, and when we release them into the world and see a positive impact, the pride that comes with that makes it all worth it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend was in Los Angeles for the weekend, I’d definitely have to incorporate these 5 things into their visit: Hiking the trail to the top of the Griffith Observatory, having seafood on the outdoor patio at Connie and Ted’s, watching a movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery at Cinespia, taking the dogs on a hike in Malibu and maybe stopping by Malibu Bluffs Park, and stopping by the Farmer’s Market before heading to The Grove for dinner by the outdoor fountain. Maybe we’d hit up LACMA if we had time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The success of our company has been the direct result of a handful of amazing mentors that we’ve met and/or worked with along the way. Greg Berlanti is a producer I look up to. He produced content that people enjoy watching, content that is successful commercially, but also content that has diverse characters and promotes different communities in different ways. Vinny Chhibber (my producing partner) was also on “The Red Line,” on CBS, a Berlanti Production. Another mentor is Tom DeSanto. Tom produced the huge blockbuster “X-Men” and “Transformer” franchises. Tom and I worked on my first documentary “Kidnapped for Christ” about ending child abuse in ‘reform camps,’ and more recently on “Lost in America,” a film about youth homelessness in America, featuring Halle Berry, Rosario Dawson and Jewel.
2021 Daytime Emmy Awards