Manny MUA Interview: VH1's The Surreal Life – Screen Rant

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The Surreal Life star Manny MUA Guterriez discusses VH1’s newest reboot, along with the rise of Lunar Beauty, and his life post-Dramageddon.
In celebration of the show’s reboot, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with star Manny MUA, to talk about The Surreal Life, the growth of Lunar Beauty, life after Dramageddon, and more. The reality TV classic's renewal follows eight celebrities living together, as they bond over tackling once-in-a-lifetime challenges.
VH1's The Surreal Life is a hilarious and heartfelt documentation of the interpersonal connections between Hollywood's hottest. Beauty guru and content creator Manny MUA lives alongside Dennis Rodman, Tamar Braxton, Stormy Daniels, Kim Coles, August Alsina, CJ Perry, and Frankie Muniz. The contestants come from completely different walks of life.
Related: The Surreal Life: Manny MUA's Age, Job & Instagram
Screen Rant: When you initially enter The Surreal Life house, you are welcomed by Dennis Rodman and Tamar Braxton. What are you thinking? Are you starstruck right off the bat? What’s going on?
Manny MUA: I recognize Tamar Braxton immediately. I know who this is without a doubt. I knew Dennis’ face, but I didn’t correlate the name to the face. I said, “Hi, I’m Manny, nice to meet you,” hoping he would be like, “I’m Dennis,” but I was nervous. I felt so embarrassed [about not knowing] afterwards. It didn’t show on camera, but I was upstairs with Tamar, and she said, “do you really not know who this is? That’s Dennis Rodman!” I felt so stupid not knowing, but [entering the house] you’re so nervous, so I completely spaced out.
Screen Rant: In the wrestling ring, your alter ego is, “El Solesito.” Being a beauty influencer, do you have a drag persona? Would you ever pursue that avenue? Or do you have any names in mind?
Manny MUA: What’s so funny is originally we were going down in teams, and I was gonna be with Kim [Coles]. She was “La Luna,” so I thought I’d be the sun to her moon. I would have never picked “El Solecito” just randomly. First, I had picked “El Amaricon,” which is f***** in Spanish…[the producers] were like you can’t do that on TV. I forgot we were on television! But it was in Spanish! It’s fine! They’re not going to know. But I don’t really have a drag persona, nothing like that, or an alter ego. For me, it’s moreso, if I’m glam, I’m more extra. I don’t even feel like I’d have an alter ego. If anything, Manny without glam is more chill, and Manny MUA has a little more sauce.
Screen Rant: I could totally see you doing Secret Celebrity Drag Race.
Manny MUA: I would so do that. Are you kidding me?
Screen Rant: I think this one was swept under the rug. You were super insistent on getting a Vitamin IV treatment. Is this something you do on the regular? How consistently do you do this?
Manny MUA: All the time! Anytime I feel like I’m getting stressed, or in an environment where I’m stressed out, or not getting enough sleep, anything along those lines, I will get an IV drip 100%.
Screen Rant: I didn’t even know this was a thing!
Manny MUA: If I’m getting sniffly, or getting sick, I will text [the nurse], “come to my house.” [It’s] immunity boosting, super hydrated, infused with vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, anything you need to prevent from getting sick. I try to do it once every two months.
Screen Rant: Dennis Rodman, along with his drinking, certainly had a hold of the house’s vibe. He had several outbursts, made personal jabs at Tamar [Braxton], and even removed himself from the house. Was there security on hand for Dennis? Did production have extra precautions? Or did you ever feel scared at any point?
Manny MUA: I think he was just hurting. I don’t think he was going to be hurting anyone physically. I don’t think there was necessarily security, because I don’t think they had ever planned for anything like that to happen. They wanted the show to be lighthearted, and funny, and camp. They would never put us in situations where we needed to be safe from one another. Especially because we were all living together. That’s kind of the point, is the intimacy, but production definitely did step in when it happened. We needed to kick Dennis out of the house for a few days, let him cool down, and re-evaluate what’s going on. We as a house voted him back in, but if we didn’t want him back, he wouldn’t have come back. He was lashing out in this way because he was hurting inside. Sometimes, people just need a little bit of help.
Screen Rant: Since you and Tamar Braxton struck up a "power duo" relationship with one another, It seemed like you confided in her more than anyone else. When Dennis made jabs at her mental health, more particularly her battle with self-harm, what was your initial reaction? Is there a scenario where you may have jumped into the conversation?
Manny MUA: I was shocked. I was very surprised had brought it up. Mind you, he was very belligerent at that point. I didn’t really know that she had a self-harm public journey at the time. I just didn’t know what was going on. I was shook. I was taken aback. For me, it wasn’t even about confrontation, or to get involved. It was moreso to make sure she [Tamar] was okay. I didn’t focus on arguing with Dennis. […] Let me talk to Tamar, and make sure she’s good, because she is the one having a breakdown. I just wanted to make sure she knew she had me, and that the whole house was rallying for her.
Screen Rant: Besides The Surreal Life, you competed on The Reality House. How do the two compare to one another?
Manny MUA: It’s funny because Reality House is a competition. That was one of my first tastes into doing something in this format, where I’m living with people, we’re competing, we’re housemates…that whole thing. And it only lasted a week. Five days specifically. Whereas, Surreal Life was three weeks long, and it was so different because in Reality House, it’s a competition, so you’re making alliances, trying not to get voted out, whereas in Surreal Life, you’re doing things together, but no one is getting eliminated. You’re trying to have a great experience with people you never would have thought you’d be connected with. Reality House is the same concept with people from all over the world, but at the end of the day, we are all creators. We all do that for a living. In Surreal Life, you have such different verticals: you have TV, sports, wrestling, rapping, such different walks of life. It’s a different vibe. And [in Reality House] no one ever voted me out, and I felt very proud of that.
Screen Rant: While you were on The Reality House, you met and competed with THE drama queen, Trisha Paytas. Did you have any one-on-one interactions?
Manny MUA: We didn’t because she was actually only there a couple hours. It was literally a hello situation, where they all said “hi” to the group, they competed, and then they went home. I think we are all so aware of the online presence of Trisha. If she stays, it [Reality House] will probably be more of an intense situation, but at the end of the day, she didn’t stay, so I didn’t have any interactions.
Screen Rant: Perfect segue from The Reality House—On Fool Coverage, you and Laura had talked about going to Coachella with Tana Mongeau this past year. Assuming TanaCon 2.0 does get pulled off, do you plan to attend?
Manny MUA: I would go. 100%, because I think everyone deserves a second chance. Especially in the past few years, Tana has grown so much as a person. It’s not about this girl who was clout chasing. […] She’s changed so much, and grown so much as a person. And she is genuinely so kind. I would go and support her. I think everyone deserves a second chance, and seeing her online growth, I think she can do it. I believe in her.
Screen Rant: I know you don’t want to, but I’m going to bring up Dramageddon. Obviously, you run a successful podcast with Laura Lee. Do you still keep in touch with any of the players from Dramageddon?
Manny MUA: I still have communication and contact with Nikita [Dragun]. Same with Gabriel [Zamora], I’m actually very close with Gabriel. Closer than pre-Dramageddon. It almost bonded us even more. Before, online, we were doing things where you have a friend group, and you’re like, “Let’s make sure everyone knows that we’re all friends” and play it up for camera, but now, we [as a two] are friends. It’s not that we’re [just] in a friend group. We are close. So I’m still very close with Laura, obviously she’s my best friend ever in the world. Gabriel, I’m very close with. I still keep in contact with Nikita, as well. I think it just takes time. Time heals all wounds in a way. We all kept in contact.
Screen Rant: Plus, the growth, because y’all have dealt with your own separate Internet battles after the fact, and those were completely isolated incidents.
Manny MUA: Absolutely. I think that when you’re a big creator online, you’re going to have a lot of scrutiny. You’re going to be looked at in a very specific way. When you go through drama, a lot of people look at you like, “[Manny] is going through drama again? Are you dramatic? Are you crazy?” I think, for me, it was important to take a step back, and be like, “What do I really want to do? What do I really want to focus on? How do I want to leave my impression of this world online?” And it wasn’t being dramatic. When I say I want to do something, I go gung-ho, and I wanted to focus on myself, and things that help grow me as a person. I feel like if Manny is happy, then everything else falls into place.
Screen Rant: Do you have any updates on Nikita [and her Miami arrest]? Maybe not necessarily the legal side, but how is she personally doing right now?
Manny MUA: I don’t have any updates to give you right now. I don’t really know a lot of what’s going on. I think it’s more a hush-hush situation. At the end of the day, I just want her to be happy and to be okay. That’s truly all I want for her. I don’t really have any updates on that.
Screen Rant: You launched Lunar Beauty in 2018. You’re up to 8 palettes now. You just released the 12 Days of Lunar advent calendar. I know you have full creative control of the company, and what you’ve created so far is absolutely beautiful. What is next? Are you going to continue expanding Lunar Beauty? Are we expanding the reality career? What are we doing here? What’s next for Manny?
Manny MUA: Definitely Lunar Beauty for sure. I feel so good about Lunar Beauty, because it's something that I have full control over. It’s not like it’s a collaboration. I’m not doing it with another brand. It’s me and my thing. For me, I want to continue to create products that I fully believe in. You know that if I made it, I put my all into it. I wanted to create a brand where people knew that as a creator, as a makeup reviewer, as someone in the beauty space for ten years, I have the best interest of my followers and my customer. It's not like I’m some random CEO who doesn’t care and just wants to make money. I’m going to create stuff that’s amazing, good quality, fairly priced, and you know it’s going to be good, because I worked on it. I’m going to continue expanding Lunar Beauty, I want to jump into different categories in 2023. That’s what I’m working on right now. If another reality competition comes up, I would definitely be interested in doing it. It was fun and I enjoyed it!
Screen Rant: Audiences enjoy watching you.
Manny MUA: It’s funny because in The Surreal Life, I was always in everyone’s situation. I wasn’t the drama, but I was somehow always involved, because everyone would always come to me with what was happening. So crazy.
Screen Rant: Anything you want to plug? Anything you’d like to say yourself?
Manny MUA: Full coverage episodes are up every single Friday. Me and Laura Lee. Full Coverage—obviously, it’s a play on full coverage makeup, but also, we are fools covering things.
Screen Rant: And the 12 Days of Lunar Advent Calendar is out now.
Manny MUA: Yes! It’s out now. Oh my god, you know what’s crazy? I think we only have 35 left, so it’s probably gonna be going pretty soon.
The Surreal Life follows a group of eight celebrities from very different pop culture backgrounds, as they share a home and a series of outrageous, life-changing events, to determine which one of them is their most authentic self.
More: The Reality House: Why Fans Need To Watch Gen-Z's Big Brother Knockoff
The Surreal Life is now available to stream on digital platforms and VOD.


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