good majority of local actors and actresses are usually well known only
to the theater community and the frequent patron. But one local took
her craft to a different level and became a web phenomenon overnight.
Marie Manzanares has been writing, directing and acting in her own
films for almost a year now, striking a chord with the internet
audience of YouTube to much success. All while continuing a
professional acting career, performing in a dance troop, and continuing
to expand her opportunities in various forms. I
got a chance to chat with Deena about her career in theater, dance,
videos and all other points in-between. As well as her thoughts on
the scene and some other topics. Also got to snap some pictures
with her at the downtown library. Deena Marie Manzanares
Hey Deena, first off, tell us a little bit
I am a professional actress, internet personality and model
living in Salt Lake City. Gavin:
How did you first take an interest in performing, and what inspired
you to go professional?Deena:
I was involved in dancing and singing since I was three years
old. I fell in love with acting much later. I knew it was
what I wanted to do for a living when I realized it was a job that
would never feel like a job to me! I never worried about “making
it” or having a backup plan. In my mind it was what I was
going to do and that was that.
What were the high school years like for you in performing arts?Deena:
You know, I didn't fully immerse myself
in it until high school was almost over. By then I was
auditioning for plays outside of school and looking into schools in
New York City.
How did you get involved with NYU and Juilliard? Deena:
After researching various schools and
the type of training I thought I would benefit from most, I chose the
Atlantic Theater Company Acting School, which is one of NYU'S
Tisch School of the Arts studios and I completed the conservatory
training. The school was founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy.
I auditioned for Juilliard classes and was lucky enough to be
accepted. I never got used to the fact that my classroom window
overlooked Lincoln Center! It was surreal! Gavin:
What would you say were the best and worst
experiences during that time?Deena:
Moving without knowing a soul or having a place to live was
not something you can prepare yourself for until you do it! It was
the best thing I've ever done, it definitely showed me what
I am made of and what I can do, having to learn a new city and way of
What was the experience like performing at Atlantic Theater Company?Deena:
It made me a stronger actress.
Absolutely invaluable. I could never sum it up in words. I
hold that time in my life so close to my heart. I had moments
of love and hate, experiences in acting as well as life that I could
never explain... but I love more than anything that I did it! No one
can ever take that away from me. Gavin:
What were some of your favorite rolls while involved with Atlantic
Darlene in "Balm In Gilead".
It was the leading role in the last play before graduation.
Also being a part of one of ATC's children's musicals which are
performed in the company's Off Broadway theatre. Gavin:
With everything you've done and the opportunities you've had back
east... why stay in Utah?Deena:
I love New York City but not necessarily the way of life.
It's expensive, it's not easy to get around. I prefer a
car to the subway. It's too hot in the summer and too cold in the
winter. But I would take a temporary gig there in a heartbeat. Gavin:
Locally you've performed all over the area from the Egyptian to PMT
to Hale. Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the rolls or do
you welcome the challenge?Deena:
Bring it on! The more roles the better, right? I want every
acting experience possible. I want to be known as versatile, as
Do you prefer comedic or more serious rolls?Deena:
Dramatic. I get so much personally and emotionally out of a
meaty, serious role. But I have to have a balance! When a
dramatic role ends I am ready for a comedy and vice versa. Gavin:
What would you say was your most and least favorite rolls to date
Recent favorites were Ida in "Skin In Flames" and
Audrey in "Little Shop Of Horrors". Least favorites? I
don't think you can complain when you're doing what you love. Gavin:
While we're on the subject, what's your opinion of our local theater
scene, both good and bad?Deena:
What I like about it is exactly what drives me crazy, it's a
very small community! You can meet everyone in our industry and make
a local name for yourself, which is great! But you're at the mercy of
a limited number of equity theatres and contracts offered and if
there isn't a role for your age or type in the season, then you're
left waiting. Gavin:
Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or
I really don't know... I do wish that we could make the
theatre scene bigger. But I also realize how tough it is for
new companies starting up with limited budgets and not being able to
hire equity actors. Gavin:
What do you think of the new movement to bring in Browdway-like shows
to the valley?Deena:
I'm undecided until I see what exactly is being brought and
what happens to already existing theatre in town. Gavin:
You also perform with the Voodoo Darlings.
How did that come about?Deena:
I was already friends with the founder
of the darlings. She told me that if she ever started a
burlesque troupe I would be the first girl she would call! I
was interested but too busy to get involved in the beginning.
Eventually things worked out and I started performing with them
this summer. Gavin:
Do you view it as dancing, performance art, or just more “mature
I view it as burlesque with a modern twist. It's
nothing more than another chance to perform. I think it's
beautiful and empowering and what I love about it is that there are
all body types, looks, and talents. It's kind of like a variety
show. There's nothing else like it in town.
Where did the idea come from to start doing the videos for YouTube?
This time last year is when I first became very aware of
internet celebrities. I learned their were actors, comedians, models,
singers, vloggers all posing their original content online and
getting known. A whole new world and form of artistic expression
opened up to me then. I knew I could do it too and that the more I
could get myself out there, the more opportunity would come my way.
What were some of the first attempts like at making material to post?
I went all out, not caring what people would think and I
wasn't afraid to look silly. The first video I posted was a
parody of an already existing video, which I figured would be a good
start and familiar to people in that world. The fact that
anyone could, and did, comment on whatever they wanted about you took
some getting used to. But you quickly learn that's the point
and you accept it. You get a tough skin quick and it only makes
me all the more determined!
I've read your husband works with you on the videos as well. What's
his involvement and have you learned anything from him along the way? Gavin:
I've read your husband works with you on the videos as well. What's
his involvement and have you learned anything from him along the way?
He helps with filming, editing and
effects on some of the 'fancier' videos. He's also composed
original music and recorded the vocals for some. We have both
learned what a great team we are. It's almost spooky how well
we can create and compliment each other. Both of us jump at the
chance to help and support the other. We are each others biggest
In most of the material you're not just the lead, you also write and
direct it. How does it feel having control of that end of the
creative process, and what are the challenges you've run into?
I love that control! I am so in love with video making now
because I get to do whatever I want. I do what I think is funny and
entertaining and I have every say in how it will be created. That's
every artists dream! The only downfall is that I don't get to be my
boss in everything I do! Ha ha! I could get used to that!
Have you ever given consideration to just writing and/or directing,
or will acting always be the focus of your career?Deena:
Acting right now comes first, but I would love to do it all!
Since we're on the topic, what are your thoughts on the local film
I haven't spent as much time in that industry. I am getting
more into it these days. I am wanting to pursue film more now than I
have in the past.
What did you think about “The Joke
” getting a front page view?
It was such a surprise! When it happened, I was still
pretty new to YouTube so I didn't realize how many people are dying
to get noticed that way and get a feature. I was lucky!
Were you amazed at how the videos caught on in popularity, or did you
just take it in stride as people finding something new?
I knew that I could post quality content that people would
find entertaining, but there are many more potential viewers out
there I have yet to reach!
You've gotten a lot of recognition for your work from local papers to
G4TV. Does the attention feel odd or have you found a way to roll
with it all?
I set out to create a name for myself so I love it! I was
more than ready for it and I feel very lucky. But this is just the
beginning! I still have a long way to go!
What is the ultimate goal for you down the road with everything
I always want more! More opportunity, a bigger scale of the
path I am on now. I want to be able to keep people interested,
to work steadily in the entertainment industry and to be someone who
others want to work with and have respect for.
Do you have any advice for those who wish to pursue a career in
acting, performing or film making?
Spend some time training. Live in different cities.
Make things happen, create opportunities for yourself. Be
polite to everyone
in your industry and conduct yourself
What can we expect from you this upcoming year?
I have a potential project I am waiting to hear back on.
It's not something local. Hopefully I'll be able to talk about
it soon and have good news! Other than that, I'll continue making
videos and acting and modeling as much as I can!
Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
My page, http://www.youtube.com/BeanerLaRue
Go create a page if you haven't already and subscribe! Spread the
word! Also, Sirens Of The Stage
, a pin-up book from the Voodoo
Darlings that showcases tributes to Broadway's brightest stars!