Tiffany Mann is flying high.
The daughter of David Mann and Tamela Mann, a fixture couple in Black cultural entertainment, Mann comes to the industry with big footsteps to follow. But the actress is carving out her own unique path – with their full blessings, of course.
“They’ve always been very supportive in me marching to the beat of my own drum,” Mann says of her family. “I’ve viewed them as my parents, as my mom and daddy, and I don’t even think each other realized that we’re doing the same thing for quite some time.”
However, once they caught wind, they were beyond supportive. Mann has taken that support and run with it, cutting her teeth with appearances on top-watched shows like Rise, Orange is the New Black and New Amsterdam, before booking bigger starring roles in her own films and stage productions.
Now, currently appearing in the comedy musical Head Over Heels at the Pasadena Playhouse, she’s also featured in a Sundance-selected short film entitled You Go Girl. From director and screenwriter Shariffa Ali, the film follows Audrey, a New York City comedian who can make a joke of any situation, faces a staggering challenge in the beautiful mountains of Oregon. To top it all off, she’s starring in a BET+ original Christmas flick.
Despite this recent surge of success, Mann is still attacked by that still small voice that tells Black women at all levels of excellence that we are never “enough,” no matter how prepared or accomplished we actually are.
“I’m very much a put your head down and do the work type of person,” Mann says of her approach to Hollywood and Broadway. “But as I’m doing the work, that imposter syndrome is loud. She tries to tell you that you’re not enough, or you can’t do, or you need to compare yourself to whatever.”
Societal expectations of Mann’s personal circumstances leave her in a state of self-doubt and constant self-comparison many Black women fall into, that she actively works past to savor her victories.
“I’m black and a woman and a Southern woman and a Southern woman raised in church,” she observes. “Like there are so many layers of shame and so many things that tell me I am less than a wonderfully made human being. So I’ve had to really push past that to stand in this.”
“I struggled with that in even getting the call for this film,” she revealed of her role in You Go Girl. “But, by pushing through and really just being sincere with the work and working with the wonderful directors and producers on this project, we made a thing that other people like.”
“It’s just a testament to [the fact that] if you really stay true and honest to your work and what you’re doing, it’ll all happen for you.”
While she gears up for her big Sundance debut, Mann is warming hearts on the small screen with her new holiday film, Soul Santa, which she stars in alongside her very own parents, a first for all three of them.
Soul Santa is a family film focusing on an unlucky businessman who gambles everything away and is forced to go on the run. Through a series of hilarious circumstances, he finds himself hiding out in a local mall as their new seasonal Santa, with a healthy dose of attitude.
“You get to see David Mann in a light that you’ve never seen him in,” Mann says of her father tackling a gangster role for a change. But as for working alongside him and her stepmother Tamela, Tiffany found it to be a very eye-opening experience on all sides.
“It was interesting because I have never seen their acting process and they’ve never seen mine,” she said. But with the difficulty of the pandemic sweeping across the nation, working together as a family unit proved to be a unique strength.
“Having to shoot a film during COVID, it was easier for people who were already in sort of pods or bubbles to interact with each other on the film set.” Still, she had to shake her family out o “parent mode” while at work to get them to really step back and look at her as a co-star rather than their daughter.
“There’s a couple of scenes in the movie where I had to really sit them down. I was like, look, y’all are not my parents today. We are actors and actresses in this scene. Please don’t pay attention to what I’m saying or how I’m looking at you,” she laughed.
Going into 2022, Mann is excited for what the future holds, and to have a chance to really step out and showcase her true self to the public.
“I’m looking forward to introducing myself in the way that I want to be experienced,” she said of her plans for the new year. “In a lot of projects, you kind of are filtered through what is in the best interest of the show or the movie or the television show, whatever the case may be. But I have really gotten a chance to just introduce myself how I want to be seen.”
“You can look forward to some new music coming from me, some really cool content, my own short films, me getting to tell my story in my own way.”