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Deena Marie: An inside look at Utah’s ‘out there’ celebrity

Stage » In the local professional acting world, what sets Manzanares apart is how strategically the classically trained actor has used social media to market herself.

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In April, she got a new Fiesta after being selected as one of 100 national "agents" assigned to promote the car to a younger generation through social media. On assignments for Ford, she has gone backstage at "American Idol," interviewed a band at Lollapalooza and taken flying lessons. In July, for another of her monthly missions, Manzanares filmed a video of a local company, Queen of Wraps, transforming her car with custom artwork.

What resulted is a vibrantly colored wrap featuring a golden-maned unicorn ridden by a red-bobbed, bespectacled Deena Marie through a Space Invaders galaxy. On the hood, there’s a massive cartoon of Deena Marie’s face. On the side panels, there’s DeenaMarie’s Twitter handle.

At a glance

‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’

Pygmalion Productions presents the contemporary romantic comedy, featuring Deena Marie Manzanares and three doo-wop singers who serve as a contemporary Greek chorus in this comedic relationship tragedy.

When » 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 1-3; 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8; 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 9-10; 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16.

Tickets » $20; $25 day of show; student discounts; at 801-355-ARTS (2787), or arttix.org.

More » View Deena Marie Manzanares’ three YouTube channels at youtube.com/beanerlarue.

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Everywhere she goes, the car serves as an advertisement, for Ford, yes, and Queen of Wraps, but also for the persona of Deena Marie.

Crafting a persona » Ask Manzanares about being a celebrity, and she’ll demur. Celebrities are Brad and Angelina. Celebrities appear on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

She admits to being occasionally recognized for her acting or modeling jobs, although it always takes her by surprise. At the Salt Lake airport once, a Delta Air Lines clerk recognized her from her YouTube videos. At a 2009 YouTube meetup in New York, young girls asked for her autograph as if she were truly famous. She’s flirted with Hollywood, been considered for roles on four reality TV shows, but none of those opportunities panned out.

The persona of Deena Marie is self-made, she says, a heightened version of her adult self and the little girl she once was. "My mom tells me I would change my clothes a million times a day," she says. "I loved playing dress-up. I always had a tutu, either around my waist or on my head."

She claims she’s more careful about not crossing the line of oversharing personal information than it might appear. "You put out a little percentage, or a little sliver, of a life, and of course, that’s all someone knows or sees," she says.

In her social media posts, she’s mostly positive and upbeat, and works to build anticipation through her writing style — lots of exclamation points — but also in how she doles out information. She knows that some people in the acting community might be dismissive of her social media persona, and she doesn’t care much. As an actor, she tries to draw upon the humility that was stressed in her training at New York University’s Atlantic Theatre Company Acting School, from which she graduated in 2002.

She was burned out for a time, and so stopped making and posting new videos until this year’s Ford gig. In discussing the subject of "The Twelve Dates of Christmas," she’ll volunteer information about her new boyfriend, a law student, but won’t talk about specific past relationships. Like many local actors, the Cottonwood High School graduate doesn’t volunteer her age, but says she can play characters from mid-20s to mid-30s.

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Ask her how much she earns, and she’s direct in not answering. "By no means am I rolling in the dough, but I’ve never been at a loss for anything that I’ve needed to do or bills or anything," she says. She likes the variety of juggling acting roles, a part-time day job in ticketing or retail, and social media gigs.

Her ultimate goal is to keep marketing herself as long as she is having fun. And she’s optimistic that new opportunities will come. "I just keep planning to transition to whatever comes my way," she says. "I have nothing to prove. I’ve always felt like that. I’m doing what I do because it makes me happy."



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