Header: Actor (and entrepreneur) Steven Manning, photographed at his Carriage House’s workstation, with his “Two Steps from Hope” (2017) scene on a monitor.
For his third independent movie role, Steven Manning was cast in the role of Sheriff Hap Jenkins for a faith-based film, “I Only Want You.” It’s a larger, multiple-scene role. He’s actually hitting the weights to bulk up more for the part. The film will start in the 1970s, so he’s going to try and grow his hair out for an afro, and concludes when Steven’s character has grown older, bald with a goatee.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Manning said, “because I think I’m ready for a larger [part], a more important character.” The filming will commence in Greenwood, Indiana this summer.
At some point between now and then, Manning will infuse Sheriff Jenkins with a trademark quirk. The 61-year-old Manning is still running his company, Manning Video Productions. He still sits on the board of directors for The Clubhouse International Movement, a program that assists people in their recovery from mental illness and reintegration with community-based centers.
Having recovered from his own dark bouts of deep depression and bipolar disorder, he represents the Fort Wayne office of the Clubhouse Movement called Carriage House, with his video production position there. And now with his acting thing…it’s about to get real.
In Manning’s previous film, another faith-based drama called “Two Steps from Hope,” he played Dr. Paul Sanderson, the family physician and friend to a couple whose son died during a car accident. The family was out there looking for their wayward daughter/sister; the parents blamed themselves for their son’s death, before directing their ire towards their daughter, whose story didn’t end there. Manning as Dr. Sanderson told the couple that their daughter had Stage 4 cancer.
That seems like a really heavy description for a movie, an independent film at that, like it’s a flick you can only watch once, and if you do, you have to be in the right mood for multiple viewings. But Manning’s scene, a conversation between friends…you want to watch that again. His delivery was deliberate, relatable, human.
“It was a very good scene for me. It was good for me to show emotion like that,” said Manning, who knew he did alright when the director, who usually does multiple takes for every angle, did only one take before moving onto the medium shots and close-ups. He told Manning that his “phenomenal” scene would “open a lot of doors” for him.
Manning didn’t like his performance at first but the more he watched himself, the more he became convinced that he could act and be consistently good (and occasionally awesome); from then on, he tailored his life to acting, having developed what he called “a triple threat curriculum,” with acting and dance classes, and singing lessons from a vocal coach. It’s kind of an old school way of looking at acting. In the days of Sammie Davis Jr., actors were expected to do all three…not so much now. Manning is throwback-ing.