It’s not every up-and-coming actress who arrives to an interview with a fashion publication in sleepwear, but then again Manning, best known for her roles as Kirsten Dunst’s sidekick in "Crazy/Beautiful" and Britney Spears’ best friend in "Crossroads," is the rare starlet bent on fashioning a Hollywood career one way: her own. Judging by the buzz for her two upcoming films — next month’s "White Oleander," opposite the blonde triumvirate Michelle Pfeiffer, Robin Wright Penn and Renee Zellweger, and the November release "8 Mile" opposite Eminem and Kim Basinger — her approach is working.
Manning is also relying on a second passion, music, to help catapult her into the galaxy of big-name actresses. Her band Boomkat, formed with older brother Kellin, will release its first single, "The Reckoning" Oct. 15 and an album, "Boomkatalog Volume I," on Dreamworks Records in January. "I hope when the music comes out that people hire me for bigger parts," she says. "I’m sick of little parts!"
The album, which Manning describes as a cross between Jamiroquai and Oasis, comprises 14 songs she and Kellin wrote over four years. And although Manning would never consider herself mainstream, she hopes the record will be. "I’m hoping to pave a new way," she explains. "They wanted to take my single and go remix it with the Neptunes or P. Diddy or Timberlake and I’m like, ‘Everyone’s already done that, why would I?’ You have to keep evolving to keep in the game."
Manning insists on being a trendsetter and isn’t above dissing a star who’s made it and doesn’t make the effort to reinvent the formula. "I mean, what’s Britney going to do now? And what about Freaky Aguilera?" she asks, referring, of course, to Christina. "I see her out sometimes at clubs and she just sits there, not dancing."