Bold, Brave, No Filter


Actress Taryn Manning becomes Michelle Knight in Cleveland Abduction.

Taryn Manning’s mom may have been horrified for her daughter’s sanity for playing the role of Michelle Knight.  But from what we can tell, it takes great depth of skill and attention to the smallest detail to find the heart of seemingly unlovable victims covered in so much grit and soot.  Taryn Manning is pure genius at work when delivering lines with that raspy voice, with delivering every expression of her petite body, down to the twitch of her bare foot.


House of Horrors

In Cleveland Abduction, the Orange Is the New Black actress plays the oldest of the three women who were held captive by Ariel Castro for nearly a decade before their daring escape in 2013.

In the movie, Raymond Cruz as Ariel Castro asks, “Where was God when he let you get into my car?”  When Taryn Manning as Michelle Knight responds, “You know where he was—in the place where you’re afraid to look,” the audience realizes lines as eyebrow-raising as these, left in the wrong hands of a thespian with the wrong glimmer in the eye, would fall from the lips sounding hella corny.  With every word Taryn Manning drew us deeper into Michelle’s plight—into the mental, emotional, and physical hell hole Ariel Castro dug for her.

For over an excruciating decade, our heroine Michelle was without her son, without any one looking for her, without any one to love her.  To be lost like a worthless penny in your own backyard—to be so close to her son and freedom and yet so far away—would have drained her of life and hope, but for her faith in God.


Michelle Knight: A story of faith, survival, and triumph.

What was amazing was how Michelle, in the midst of so much crippling abuse, could find the strength to hold tight to her faith in God.  Trials and tribulations of this degree often cause the strongest of believers to doubt God’s existence and His love for us.


Michelle Knight, out of darkness...

May her life and its portrayal be a true testimony to how real and present God can be when He seems farthest away.  It was heartbreaking but inspiring how Michelle used prayer and her imagination to escape the ditch the devil had thrown her into to find joy in the presence of her son.

As Michelle Knight, Taryn Manning was captivating—as usual—in this movie.  Pam Grier and Olivia’s mean old daddy, Joe Morton, from Scandal were pleasant surprises.

However, like the Cleveland police, the writing could have been better.  Also, if you live anywhere touching Cleveland, you may have found a few sticking points.

While the movie was shot in sepia tones to deepen the plot—to create a sense of desolation and forsakenness—the grass in Cleveland is as green or blue as that in Kentucky and, if the sky is blue, it’s just as blue in Cleveland as it is in heaven or California.

Ariel Castro was not as grungy or brooding as the movie portrayed him.  By all accounts he was charismatic, well-liked, and a well-dressed, well-known urban musician who likely would not be caught dead in plaid.  But that the movie showed Ariel as human at all should be applauded, for he was someone’s son, brother, father, and friend.  And, for no one is a monster his whole life or at all times.

“Michelle Knight’s survival story is truly one of triumph.” 

“We’ve become friends,” Taryn Manning told People Magazine of her relationship with the feisty and courageous dynamo. “She’s bold and she’s brave and she has no filter.”

Despite the horrors that descended upon Michelle Knight, in merciless blows to mind and tiny body, the Cleveland native, now 34, has made peace with her fate.  Literally embraced by the love and affection of Clevelanders, the nation, and the world everywhere she goes, she seems to be thriving.  And no one is more deserving.

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