Manning was born in Falls Church, Virginia. Her parents divorced in 1981, and her mother, Sharyn, worked two jobs in order to support Taryn and her older brother, Kellin. Her father, Bill, a musician and hotel manager, was the cousin of Archie Manning, and died in 1993. Taryn grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where her mother moved to after her divorce, and later in Los Alamitos, California, where she attended Orange County High School of the Arts. "As a brother and sister, our tastes were pretty different growing up. He liked a lot of early hip hop. My dad didn't understand it and would try to talk him out of it", Taryn has told. She started dancing at age twelve.
Manning began acting in the late 1990s, appearing in small roles in several film and television productions, including episodes of The Practice, Get Real, Boston Public, NYPD Blue and Popular. She tried out to be a popstar on Popstars (2001/I) (US version) in the second L.A. auditions. Air date Friday February 16th, 2001 on The WB.
Her first role in a major motion picture was in the Kirsten Dunst and Jay Hernandez romantic-comedy crazy/beautiful which was followed shortly by a prominent role in the 2002 Britney Spears feature film, Crossroads, where she played one of the Spears' character's best friends. Her subsequent film roles included supporting parts in White Oleander, 8 Mile, A Lot Like Love and the historical epic Cold Mountain.
In 2005, she appeared in the drama film Hustle & Flow, opposite Terrence Howard, playing a troubled prostitute in Memphis, Tennessee. The film received critical acclaim and was generally considered a success. Her next film will be Weirdsville, a comedy co-starring Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley. In 2007, she played Ivy Chitty on the short-lived Fox series Drive.
Taryn often plays a troubled young woman or troublemaker.
Taryn was the December 2007 entry in Stuff magazine's 2006-2007 pin up calendar. She appeared in the cover of Stuff magazine in May 2007.