Rio Mangini can currently be seen as “Ace McFumbles” in Nickelodeon’s “Bella and the Bulldogs.” The hit show premiered early in 2015 as one of the top performers on the channel and it was quickly picked up for a second season. Blitzing gender stereotypes, the live action comedy is about the vibrant head cheerleader, Bella Dawson, who becomes the star quarterback of the school’s football team. Rio’s character, as he so deftly described in an interview with Fanlala, is “a mini Ron Burgundy, but with a better mustache.” Though the aspiring McFumbles is driven to be the best, often his ambitions make him an unwitting antagonist. However, his hysterical antics hold a special place in viewers’ hearts making Ace a fan favorite.
True to his character, the investigative reporter “Ace McFumbles,” a buoyant Rio Mangini started off his Examiner interview with the actor being the one who was asking all of the questions. “Have you ever seen ‘Bella and the Bulldogs?’ Isn’t Brec Bassinger great? She’s awesome!” The 12 year old artist was just bursting with barely containable energy.
The humble talent is a natural scene stealer. His chaotic drive just radiates from the screen making him the one to watch. When asked if he was the funniest character on “Bella and the Bulldogs” Rio answered, “Ace McFumbles is really silly. He’s a news reporter and he’s really funny, but everyone is equally funny on that show!”
As far as how he landed the role, the gifted actor explained, “My manager books these auditions for me. When I go in, they give me some sides [a small portion of the script], I read the sides and they sometimes put me up for a call back, which is like another audition, but for the bigger parts. And then, you still have to perform for the network before you get the job. When I went in there, I just gave it my all!”
Besides acting, Rio is also an accomplished classical pianist. So accomplished, that he’s already played Carnegie Hall… Twice! “The first time I played a song by Chopin called ‘Étude No. 14.’ The second time I played Bach’s ‘Prelude No. 2.’ But now I’m working on something a little bit harder, I’m playing some Rachmaninoff.”
The fascinating thing about Mangini is that he’ll practice an hour or two every day, but instead of focusing on reading, he’ll work by ear. “I’m not your typical piano player,” he admitted, “I know how to read music, but playing by ear is way better for me!”
“I started playing piano when I was five,” he informed, “so I’ve been playing for about seven years, now. How it all started was because I have a friend and his mom thought it would be really fun to have a little group piano lesson for the kids, so we started doing that. I couldn’t focus, so they put me in a solo piano class.”
When asked which he liked better, acting or music, Rio replied, “They are both really great! Piano is great because you get to learn music and it’s really fun… but so is acting because you get the play all of these different characters!”
Mangini’s talents, however, are not just limited to those two aforementioned gifts.
“I love drawling, too!” he enthused. “I could not sit still without a notebook. Anywhere I go, I am constantly drawing. When I started off, I was drawing weird things. For example, I have this old, old drawing from when I was really little. It’s a picture of this big head that looks like a clown and there’s this other guy with a bald head and a mean face. And the picture has all of these scribbles all over the place. My mom thought it was really good for a two-year-old,” he laughed.
Most of Rio’s artwork is pen and pencil drawings because he isn’t currently interested in color. What he does like to do, though, is give his characters different voices, a personality, and a backstory! “Because what’s a good drawing without personality?” he laughed.
And, if that isn’t enough, when he’s not practicing piano, acting, or drawing, Rio’s latest hobby is creating EDM on his iMac by mashing up classical music using Ableton Live.
Although it seems this vibrant young talent is all over the map when it comes to his artistry, there is one defining aspect that unites all of his work. “Whatever I do, it comes from my heart,” Mangini concluded.
The season finale of “Bella and The Bulldogs,” is this Saturday night, May 30 at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon. According to the listing on LocateTV, the episode is titled “No Girls Allowed” and it is summarized as follows: “When an outdated rule about girls not being able to play football is made public, Bella is prevented from playing right before the Bulldogs’ first playoff game.” During the show, Rio Mangini will be having a Twitter takeover in conjunction with M Magazine starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
For more information on “Bella and the Bulldogs” visit Nickelodeon’s website. For more information on Rio, visit his website, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.