We had the chance to catch up with Long Beach native, Manny Montana, who stars as ‘Johnny Turturro’ in USA Networks’ highly anticipated and gritty new drama, Graceland. Check out what he had to say about his new series, love for sports, and favorite fashion icons!
You play a fun-loving, prankster FBI Agent on USA Network’s new series Graceland, what is it like playing Johnny Turturro?
Playing Johnny is literally one of my dream roles. He’s the heart of the house, he’s funny, tough, sensitive and not afraid to make a fool of himself. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and it may seem like he’s being lackadaisical in his work but it’s really just a cover to hide how much he truly loves his job, and to keep his sanity in this world. I feel blessed and honored to be playing a character that has so many dimensions to him. I always laugh to myself when I hear people label Johnny as the “fun-loving prankster”. People are going to see, there’s so much more to him.
There are quite a few hit crime shows on television, what makes Graceland different?
Our show is different because I’ve never seen/heard of a show like GRACELAND before. I keep saying it’s a cross between NEW YORK UNDERCOVER (one of my favorite shows growing up) and THE REAL WORLD. Two completely different shows! But when I describe it like that people always give me that, “huh… interesting… that actually sounds kind of amazing” face. It’s not a regular cop show where everything gets wrapped up at the end. We go DEEP into the story lines and some even last the entire season! This show and it’s characters are going to hook people.
Tell us about your sports background.
I played football my whole life. It was all I ever wanted to do. I got a scholarship to Sacramento State. Things didn’t pan out too well. I wasn’t a big fish in a small pond anymore, I kept getting injured, and came to the painful realization that football was not going to be my career. You have to be real with yourself… But in hindsight it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Life is a beautiful struggle that way.
But sports are still a HUGE part of my life, it’s all I do on my off time. I play football, basketball, surf, box, and rock climb all the time.
When you are not on set, how do you like to spend your time?
When I’m not on set I’m always outside at the park or beach doing all the sports activities I listed above. It keeps me balanced. When on hiatus from work, I coach football at my old high school, Long Beach Jordan. I’ve been coaching pop warner football the last 2 year, but all of my kids are now growing up and off to different high schools. So I felt the time was right for a new challenge, to go and coach at my alma mater and help kids that come from the same crazy city I do. If I can act and coach my whole life, I’d die a happy man.
How would you describe your personal style? Is it anything like your character?
My personal style is hard to describe. On most days I’m a t-shirt, jeans, Nike Dunks kind of guy. Which, I guess Johnny is too. But when I get the urge, I love playing dress up! Lol. Hats, glasses, suspenders, bow ties, coats, oxfords, suits are very much a part of my everyday wear. In a nutshell, my style just depends on the day and my mood 🙂
Who are some of your fashion icons or favorite clothing brands?
Some of the people who’s style I love are Mos Def (aka Yasiin Bey), Justin Timberlake, David Beckham, Andre 3000. There style is just dope! It’s classy with their own little twist to it. It’s edgy, but it also feels like it’s been there forever. That’s what I strive for in style. It’s just another form of expression. I have so many brands I like but just to name some, The Academy (in Long Beach), Ted Baker, Joe’s Jeans, Nike, Allen Edmonds, Levis, North Face, etc.
Is there a specific fashion trend you avoid or just don’t understand?
I try and avoid trends in general. I believe the best way to be real and true to you own individual style is to incorporate new styles/trends into “your style”. Don’t just ride these waves because they come and go so quickly. You have to be able to lead and follow. But if I’m just being real, I will never get into skinny jeans. I think it looks good on some dudes but for me it just feels way to constrictive. I gotta have some room to move!
Thank you Manny for taking the time to talk to us. Make sure you catch USA Network’s Graceland on Thursday, June 6th at 10:00PM!