- - Monday, February 1, 2016

Most people are scared of Omarosa Manigault, the former Al Gore staffer-turned-popular reality TV star. Then again, most people have only seen her during a tough-as-nails star turn on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”

But spend only a few minutes with her in person, and you realize she is warm, intelligent, funny and not scary at all. The Howard University grad — and now professor — took some time out at a recent horror convention in Hollywood to talk about her work as a surrogate in Donald Trump’s run for the presidency, her horror film, “Knock Em’ Dead,” (which may lead to a career as a scream queen) and her place in Mr. Trump’s cabinet — if he wins.

Question: Why are you here at a “scream queens” event?

Answer: I did a wonderful movie called “Knock ‘em Dead,” and it was my first entree into the horror genre. It was so much fun. I opened the movie. Everybody knew that I was a “scream queen virgin.” [laughs]

Q: Were they gentle?

A: Everybody was. I’m talking about from sound to lighting. The director legitimately wanted me to experience terror. So at some point the mansion we shot in was empty. I was walking through, and there was no cue as to when the guy would come out. All I had to do was keep walking through a 15,000-square-foot mansion. Following the noise. The only noise you can hear is my feet walking on carpet. It was very intense.

Q: What scares you in real life?

A: I’m not really scared of much. [laughs] I’m a martial artist, so I’m taught to deal with most situations.

The only time I experienced real fear was once on a flight. I was flying to Morocco. It was the most violent turbulence I have ever experienced. Like I said, I’m not scared of much, but when that plane dropped and the oxygen masks dropped out of the ceiling, you know it’s pretty serious.

Q: People see you as scary. Are you?

A: I think it is unfortunate that women who are outspoken and who are strong and commanding in business is still a terrifying thing for most people. But I also understand the more that young women see women as powerful and empowered to be change agents, the better things will get. It’s a good start. Change is scary.

Q: You were on “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump. Do you support his run for presidency.

A: Yes. I’ve been out campaigning for him. I am definitely one of his surrogates. I’m very proud of him. This has been a long journey.

I met Donald in 2003 when we were shooting the first season of “The Apprentice.” From the time we started that until now, people have been speculating and asking, “Will he run for president?” To see him finally going after his dream and realizing success in that area is pretty remarkable.

Q: Do you think he could actually win and become President Trump?

A: If he gets the party’s nomination, it’s 50-50 chance of [him] becoming the most powerful man in the universe.

Q: If he gets the nomination and goes on to win and become president, what cabinet position do you call him up and ask for?

A: [laughs] I haven’t given that much thought. [laughs] Oh, my God, that is so funny. I think that I’m just gonna continue to be a good friend to him.

The other night he tweeted something to me. And when Donald Trump, who has something like 8 million followers, tweets you something, it made my phone start smoking. I had close to 10,000 new followers in 30 seconds because he tweeted me. It’s so funny the power of the tweet.

But to answer your question, I’m just gonna continue to be supportive of him on his journey. One thing I learned from my time in the White House, my four years in the Clinton administration, is this thing is up and down. There are a lot of twists and turns coming up. Lots of unexpected things happen. You just don’t know what will happen until the results are published.

I’m thinking of Donald and hoping he turns out well in the caucuses.

Q: What are you up to these days?

A: I am a branding and marketing professor at Howard University. I teach in the executive MBA program. I teach other Type A students like myself. I get to mold the young minds of young business students and teach them very interesting pivotal lessons I’ve learned.

Q: When they see you, do they recognize you from TV and are the nervous?

A: First of all, I’m on the Rate My Professor site, so my reputation proceeds me. I was delighted to see the assessment of me as a professor as “she’s tough but fair.” Most students know if they do the work, they’ll pass. If they don’t I’ll fail them miserably. [laughs]

Q: Do you plan on doing any more acting?

A: I did a lot of acting in my early days. I did soap operas and the comedy “Girlfriends.” I did quite a bit of scripted things. A few films. But never a horror flick. I felt a little intimidated. But it came off well and I enjoyed it. It gave me a little bit of a buzz, so I’m in talks about doing another project.

Yes, more horror! So I can truly become a legendary scream queen! [laughs]

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