Mike Manning arrived to “Real World D.C.” thinking he’d help America get green. Instead, the Denver native has found himself as one of TV’s most outspoken advocates for gay marriage.
He professes himself to be a “pile of contradictions”: He’s a jock and thespian. A Christian and bisexual.
Recently, Zap2it caught up with “The Contradiction” in between traveling to promote the show.
The breakout MTV reality star spoke about coming out, what he really thinks of the other seven roomies and what we can expect from him in the future.
In the episode premiering Wednesday (Feb. 17), you’re going to have a chat with your family about your sexuality. How did that go and how are you feeling about that?
I think it was good. My parents took it a lot better than a lot of people’s parents take it. Now that the show is airing, a lot of people will send me stories like, ‘Hey, I’m 17 and I live in a small town and my church hates me. My family hates me. I’m scared I’m going to get kicked out.’ A lot of really sad stories. So when I compare my own story to theirs, I feel really grateful for how my situation turned out. My mom went from not being too accepting about it to getting newsletters about HRC. She’s putting the HRC sticker on her car. She’s talking to her friends at work about it. She defends me in a lot of situations, so now she’s like an advocate of her own.
Has your belief in Christianity been challenged?
Yeah. That’s actually one of the biggest things that I face. Not so much from strangers, but some people that go to my church, friends, even family members. They say to me, ‘how could you say the things you say on the show and still be Christian.’ I’m getting it a little bit on the negative side, but also, I just joined a men’s bible study and they’ve all seen the show and know a lot about my personal situation and they all support it 100%. And they’re all straight, married or with girlfriends. Yeah, religion has been one of my biggest struggles, but it has also been a source of support.
So, our Zap2it readers want to know: Is Ashley as annoying as she comes off on TV?
Oh, God, Ashley. [laughs] God love her. One-on-one, she’s great. You know, Ashley is the type of girl that wants attention. If she’s not getting attention, she’ll try to stir up some stuff to make the focus back on her. She had a lot of learning to do and when somebody would disagree with her on something she maybe didn’t know a lot about, she would automatically switch to the defensive and try to put them down as soon as possible, so she couldn’t be challenged or questioned. I’ve said this to her face and we’re friends now, but would I ever live with her again? Probably not.
Can we expect more blowouts between you and Ashley in the show?
I don’t think so. After our big fight in the beginning, we agreed to disagree about certain things. And, yeah, we’ve had our arguments, but compared to what you’ve seen so far, I don’t think there will be anymore of that. I kind of learned how to live with her.
So, let’s play some name association. We’ll say one of your roommates’ names and you tell us what comes to your mind first. First up, Andrew.
Callie would be sexy.
Twin. She’s my twin. She and I agree on everything. We’ll say the same thing at the same time. We even kind of look the same. We go out in public sometimes and people would ask if we’re related.
Emily seems cool. Kay, Erika.
Erika is…[pauses to think]. I have a lot of good things to say about Erika, but at the same time… I’ll say love struck. She’s totally obsessed with her boyfriend. [Note: Emily recently admitted to lying about having cancer on the show in order to get her boyfriend’s attention.]
[Laughs] Who is somebody that gets really angry really quickly? Ty is kind of like King Kong.
What have you been doing since you ended shooting on the show?
I’ve been so busy. I’ve gotten less sleep in the last month than I’ve ever had. It’s awesome, though, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m traveling a lot, first of all. I’m doing events and appearances and college speeches and things like that for the show. I’m gone almost every single weekend. The weekends I am here, I’m shooting a movie, an indie film called ‘The Big Red Chair.” It’s like a coming of age story. It’s really cool. I just got a job at a TV station, Vista TV in Denver. I host TV segments and shows for them now.
Have you always had an interest in being on-air talent?
I’ve always loved being in front of the camera or an audience. In high school, I was the kid who’d go to wrestling practice and hockey practice, and then run to theatre practice. I tried to do everything in high school. I’ve been in a dozen plays and I used to do modeling and stuff. Then, when I came to college, I’m a business major, and I thought about it. Business is more practical. I really don’t want to be waiting tables for 30 years, waiting to make it big as an actor. So, I kind of gave that up. With the show and all the doors the show has opened up for me, it has kind of given me the opportunity to pursue acting and the entertainment business. That’s where my true passion is, but I’ve never had the balls to drop business and go for it.
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Photo credit: MTV