There are levels to the craft, something fitness mogul and songwriter-turned filmmaker Barry Jay and Emmy-winning television and film professional Mike Manning understand well. The two recently appeared on So Booking Cool to promote their new multi-award-winning film The Way Out, which is now available on digital, demand, and DVD.
With The Way Out being his third film, Jay decided to take a bit of a different approach. “People in my life were like ‘If you’re going to do this again, you have to level up…and find some people with some notable experience,” he tells SBC.
Jay makes it clear that this shift does not reflect negatively on his past films. He embraced the challenge of working with people with more experience, like Manning. “I felt like I was in good hands,” the director says.
Manning’s credits include everything from The Real World; Days of our Lives; and the Disney Channel original movie Cloud 9, to Teen Wolf, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots, The Bay (which won an Emmy for the series and Manning for best supporting actor) and This is Us, to name a few. He has also produced more than 30 projects. Not bad for someone who initially experienced imposter syndrome when he moved to Los Angeles to start his career.
“I remember taking three or four acting classes a week and it was crazy,” Manning shares. “I felt like I was playing catch-up to so many people around me that were on TV shows or doing what I wanted to do. And I felt like I wasn’t worthy. It wasn’t a case of nepotism…I made friends one-by-one. I’m an example of somebody that found the staircase and then just walked up the stairs, one by one, smaller projects, bigger projects, bigger projects.”
Now he is honored to help tell Jay’s personal story in Way Out, which won the Best Audience Award and Best LGBT Feature at the Burbank International Film Festival. The film also stars Jonny Beauchamp (Penny Dreadful, Katy Keene), Ashleigh Murray (Riverdale, Katy Keene), and Sherri Shepherd. It centers abuse and addiction recovery, both of which Jay overcame.
“Not all abusers see that they need to change their actions, not all abusers get sober, not all abusers go to therapy,” says Jay. “The very moment that you have an awareness that you need to change within, like I did, it’s in [your] responsibility to heal.”
Check out the conversation to learn more about The Way Out including how they overcame their fears to make it; how Manning and Jay met; how Jay went from writing songs to writing screenplays; full circle moments; more on what it would take for an abuser to quit and the abused to leave; encouraging tidbits about advancing in one’s career; and more! For more information, visit The Way Out on Instagram. Check out the trailer below!