fbpx
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

‘Stumptown’s’ Camryn Manheim Talks Acting, Activism and How to Raise a Mensch

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Camryn Manheim has had a very busy summer. In addition to shooting the new ABC series “Stumptown,” she sent her son to college, remodeled her mother’s kitchen and was just elected secretary-treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, the actors union.

“I think my mother is more proud that I’m running for union office than any acting I’ve done,” Manheim told the Journal in an interview before the election, and that says a lot. Her long and impressive list of credits include “Elvis,” “Waco,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “The L Word,” “Person of Interest” and “The Practice,” which earned her Emmy and Golden Globe awards for playing attorney Ellenor Frutt. She portrayed the same character on three other series: “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public” and “Gideon’s Crossing.”

Her new role in “Stumptown” casts her as Lt. Cosgrove, a Portland police officer who has a challenging relationship with rule-breaking, PTSD-afflicted private investigator Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders), who is both an asset and a thorn in her side. 

“She’s a sassy, smart, capable lieutenant and good at what she does. She’s an honest and honorable person,” Manheim said. “She sees Dex as a threat.”

Manheim applauds the series for having strong female characters and giving them more life than a procedural normally allows. “We never get to know their story. We don’t get to see their flaws. Here, we’re going to see what makes them tick,” she said. She described the show’s setting as “a very gritty and dark world, but it’s funny at the same time — and we need that. In so many of these procedurals, the humor and the pathos is not evident.”

Manheim, whose family owns property along the Columbia River outside Portland, has been to Portland many times. “I love the town, but there’s a very dark underbelly there, including neo-Nazi white supremacists, contention between different groups,” she said. “I hope our show will tap into those issues.”

Manheim obtained her master’s in drama from NYU and regularly has worked in theater, film and TV since the early 1990s. When she was asked to play a part in a summer camp production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “everybody stood up and clapped for me and I felt like the entire camp was now my friend,” she said. “Theater found me. It was bashert.”

The daughter of educators, Manheim was born in New Jersey but the family moved often as her math-professor father secured new positions. They lived in Michigan and Illinois before settling in Long Beach when she was in sixth grade. Her parents were liberal, cultural Jews, social activists who donated to the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center. She happily follows that path. “Being an actor gives you a platform to try to effect change,” she said. “Being involved in social justice is the most amazing byproduct of what I do.”

Camryn Manheim.(ABC/Image Group LA)
CAMRYN MANHEIM

Of German and Polish Jewish heritage, Manheim recently went to Poland, seeking her grandmother’s birth certificate as proof her family has a right to claim land in Israel that her great-grandfather purchased. She didn’t find it, but she did discover she had two great-aunts who were murdered at Auschwitz.

She visited Israel, and it was there she changed her name from Debra to Camryn during a multi-country, post-college graduation trip with her sister. After trying on a different name in each place, practicing signatures, she was convinced she heard someone whispering “Camryn” in her ear, validating the choice. “Camryn was born in a hotel in Tel Aviv,” she said.

She is the mother of actor Milo Manheim (“Z-O-M-B-I-E-S,” “American Housewife”), who was the runner-up on “Dancing With the Stars” last season. She beamed with pride watching him perform, and although she thought “he was robbed, he got as much as he could out of that experience. He was remarkable from start to finish and whether you go home with the trophy or not has no bearing on how incredible it was.”

As someone who feels strongly connected to her Jewish heritage, “It was important to me that [Milo] was educated in that world,” Manheim said, noting he had a non-traditional bar mitzvah at the progressive secular Sholem Community five years ago. “The topic of his bar mitzvah was why he felt Jewish, and it was beautiful, soulful and funny. He brought in history and humor. It’s one of a million reasons why he’s a mensch,” she said, adding, “I don’t know if there’s a secret to raising a mensch, but I feel there are things I did that put him on a positive road. I think it’s very important for parents to get involved with the parents of kids who are your kid’s age, and create a community of like-minded parents with the same values and morals.”

In addition to “Stumptown,” Manheim will appear in the dark comedy “Killing Eleanor” in a role she describes as “an ethereal modern-day angel,” and in the anthology series “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings,” playing a midwife in a story based on Parton’s song “Down From Dover.” She had a bestseller with her book “Wake Up, I’m Fat” in 1999, based on her one-woman show of five years earlier, but isn’t sure she’ll write another book.

“Writing is so isolated, and I’m a people person. But I’m really glad I wrote it. If I do write a book, it might be based on the lectures I give to NYU graduate students,” she said. “Every year, I give a master class on how to get along in the real world and how to make the times between [roles] matter by doing service. It’s really meaningful to me to prevent young actors from going into a really dark place because the industry is so difficult.”

Manheim is proud of her accomplish-ments, “but the thing that stands out to me is that I’ve been able to use the work that I’ve done for social change and use my voice in arenas that would have been otherwise unheard, and give a voice to people who don’t have one.”

She said she is happiest “when I’m being the Gertrude Stein of the West Coast. My favorite thing to do is have actors and singers and songwriters at my house. I’d love to work with my son at some point, but who wants to work with their mom when they’re first starting out?”

Manheim feels fortunate to have led “one of the most blessed lives a person can have. Even though I have goals, I don’t want to wish for too much more than what I have. I’d feel selfish because it’s been such an amazing journey for me. And now, I’m on an exciting show that I’m so proud of. My life is full. I count my blessings every day.”

“Stumptown” premieres Oct. 25 on ABC.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

ViacomCBS Drops Nick Cannon Over ‘Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories’

ViacomCBS announced on July 14 that it is ceasing its relationship with actor Nick Cannon for spreading “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” In its statement, Viacom said...

How Do You Put on a Play in a Pandemic? These Creatives Found a Way

With the arts on a halt because of coronavirus, a group of young creatives found a way to make a virtual theater festival possible.

Ripple Effect: Intentions

On my late-night Facebook scrolling, I came across cufflink bracelets. They were silver with inspirational sentences on the inside. It seemed to me that this would...

Los Angeles Needs Safe Spaces for Jewish Foster Children 

So many Jewish parents who face crises worry about losing their kids to the government foster care system, so they stay silent. We really wanted to help.

Combatting Anti-Semitism Requires Help From Everyone

The polarization of American politics has become so intense that domestic partisan divisions now can undermine our community’s fight against anti-Semitism.

Dutch Government Threatens to Fine Store Selling Wine From Hebron Labeled as Made in Israel

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch government inspectors said they would fine a store selling wine from the West Bank city of Hebron that is labeled...

Chabad of Poway Rabbi Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was shot during the Chabad of Poway attack in 2019, pleaded guilty on July 14 to what federal authorities called...

Alon Aranya: Introducing the show “Tehran”

Shmuel Rosner and Alon Aranya discuss the show "Tehran" - coming soon to AppleTV. Alon talks about the uniqueness of Israeli Tv and its...

Missouri Gov. Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, signed a bill into law on July 13 barring the state government from providing contracts to companies that...

Jewish Women’s Theatre Stages ‘For Goodness’ Sake’ Via Zoom

The tales and musical interludes about life, love and loss, are variously funny, empowering, and heartbreaking.

Culture

ViacomCBS Drops Nick Cannon Over ‘Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories’

ViacomCBS announced on July 14 that it is ceasing its relationship with actor Nick Cannon for spreading “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” In its statement, Viacom said...

How Do You Put on a Play in a Pandemic? These Creatives Found a Way

With the arts on a halt because of coronavirus, a group of young creatives found a way to make a virtual theater festival possible.

Jewish Women’s Theatre Stages ‘For Goodness’ Sake’ Via Zoom

The tales and musical interludes about life, love and loss, are variously funny, empowering, and heartbreaking.

Andy Cohen Gets Candid in New Quibi Series ‘The Andy Cohen Diaries’

Is there such a thing as too much information? Apparently, not for Andy Cohen. The gossip-loving Bravo talk show host gets extremely candid in “The...

Tovah Feldshuh Talks Golda Meir, Grandchildren and Voting

Feldshuh has been using the time to write a memoir about her mother, getting to know her first grandson and awaiting the birth of two granddaughters.  

Latest Articles
Latest

ViacomCBS Drops Nick Cannon Over ‘Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories’

ViacomCBS announced on July 14 that it is ceasing its relationship with actor Nick Cannon for spreading “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” In its statement, Viacom said...

How Do You Put on a Play in a Pandemic? These Creatives Found a Way

With the arts on a halt because of coronavirus, a group of young creatives found a way to make a virtual theater festival possible.

Ripple Effect: Intentions

On my late-night Facebook scrolling, I came across cufflink bracelets. They were silver with inspirational sentences on the inside. It seemed to me that this would...

Los Angeles Needs Safe Spaces for Jewish Foster Children 

So many Jewish parents who face crises worry about losing their kids to the government foster care system, so they stay silent. We really wanted to help.

Combatting Anti-Semitism Requires Help From Everyone

The polarization of American politics has become so intense that domestic partisan divisions now can undermine our community’s fight against anti-Semitism.

Hollywood

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

‘Expecting Amy’ Highlights a New Comedy Dynamic of Jewish Mothers Making, Not Being, the Jokes

Jewish moms like Amy Schumer, who were once the material, have become the premier comics of this age.

Podcasts

Alon Aranya: Introducing the show “Tehran”

Shmuel Rosner and Alon Aranya discuss the show "Tehran" - coming soon to AppleTV. Alon talks about the uniqueness of Israeli Tv and its...

Cancel Culture, Pro-LGBTQ Palestinian Tahini and Coronavirus Weddings

Naor and Eytan talk about everything that's been going on in Israel lately. 

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x