We had the good fortune of connecting with Setaleki Manu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Setaleki, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Patience and perseverance. For over a decade i stumbled through life, barely graduating High School, dropping out of college, going from one 9 – 5 to another, before i discovered acting. Within a year, i went from working background roles and small informercials, to landing my first principal in a major feature for Netflix and landing several national commercials, one of which aired during the Superbowl! For those looking from the outside in, it may seem as though my success was an overnight phenomenon, although the reality is that this was years in the making. From learning to pick myself up through financial hardships, to learning an appreciation for work ethic through manual labor, i owe it all Patience and Perseverance for seeing me through.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As an actor, our careers are known as one of the most inconsistent/unstable careers, in ANY industry, especially entertainment. You could be booked for months on end, and then be stuck in a dry spell for years. Thats why i believe to truly follow this road, you have to love acting THAT much. Looking back, i guess I’ve always had a knack for the craft, always had a vivid imagination. However, my parents came from a background of academics and manual labor and had no idea how to cultivate my creativity. Which i don’t blame them for! Parents do the best they can, with what they know. But because of that, i went through years with no direction, before finally finding my calling with the arts! It was definitely a tough journey, for every gig i booked, it was followed by a dozen rejected auditions. But, that’s just it…i cant see myself pursuing anything else in life. For the first time in my existence, i found something that i was good at, and enjoyed! And im not letting that go.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Haha, being from the inglewood/hawthorne area, i would like to say id take them more towards the city, HOWEVER, the food we have is incredible. i would take them by fabulous burgers, or even towards gardena to Mr. Fries Man! Im sure we’d take the usual tourist trip down sunset blvd, maybe go by the walk of fame. Id love to take them to concert at the palladium or The belasco, then maybe end the night around K-town, they have amazing bars and restaurants.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, thats tough! So many folks have contributed to my acting career, whether it was encouraging me to keep pursuing the craft or even giving me a ride to an audition. However, all in all, i have to give a special shout out and immense thank you to Claude Shires, Actor, Director, and CEO/owner of the renowned laugh lounge. Me and Claude met when he was directing a Netflix Comedy special at a music venue where i was working as a security guard. Claude planted the idea of me pursing the arts, and even gave me my first acting gig right there on the spot, as a background extra in that Netflix Special!