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OFF THE CUFF
by michele weston


Manheim’s Metamorphosis; Take 2

 

To me, actress Camryn Manheim is a pillar of strength with an infectious smile and luxurious long hair with those signature earrings of hers running down her earlobes. A political powerhouse, Camryn is passionate about anything she sets her mind to -- She not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. She’s also a true role model who will stop on the street when asked to sign an autograph or shake a young person’s hand. It’s just the kind of woman she is.

I’ve known Camryn since she won her first Emmy, and had the pleasure of helping her find the perfect look for her famed Emmy acceptance speech declaring “This is for all the fat girls!” for her role as Ellenor Frutt for The Practice (ABC).  We worked together again on her Mode magazine cover in 1997. A lot has happened since then for Camryn. She now has a son, Milo, who is the light of her life. This year she was nominated for another Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for her role as Elvis’s mother, Glady’s, in the CBS Elvis Presley mini-series. She’s had oodles of guest roles on TV, my favorite being the ‘tough as nails’ studio head, Veronica Bloom, on the Showtime series The L-Word. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We chatted as she was running out to catch some ‘downtime’ with Milo before her next whirlwind of movies, premieres and projects begins. I was curious – How does this wild, motorcycle riding woman spend her free time?

 

Camryn reminded me that she doesn’t get a chance to see movies that often herself.  As the mom of a 4-year old boy -- and as a modern woman -- She has TIVO so she can watch shows and movies on her own time.

Camryn also admits that she’s a “A student of poker.” She plays, watches, studies and reads anything she can find to improve her own game.  Basically she’s obsessed with her new favorite pastime.  “It would be like asking me two years ago about bridge -- and today it’s my gut reaction, and I think it’s weird -- but it’s poker. It’s such a great game -- to make life decisions -- a ‘psychology’ of bluffing…we do that everyday in our lives.” You can catch her on the World Poker Tour, or playing in the Las Vegas Celebrity Poker Show for charity (www.bravo.com.) “It’s important that I play well and I make the right decisions. It does depend on cards -- and it’s important to play skillfully. Nobody wants to play with somebody who does not care if they win or lose… It’s like eating overcooked pasta. I don’t really care about the money, but the honor.  Being able to walk away being a skilled player is what I strive for.  It’s very chi-chi game and very glam to play poker right now.”

When we veered to the subject of fashion I asked her what she loved lately. Camryn said, “My new fashion breakthrough comes in the form of accessories.

I’ve just been introduced to gold and I am into layering -- five necklaces and my row of earrings, a black top and jeans -- it looks like a million bucks, all these necklaces wrapped around -- oh, and a Hindu goddess of motherhood necklace designed by my girlfriend Robin Dera (www.robindera.com). They are so classy and sexy and special. It makes you happy to wear her things! Lots of layers of baubles in luscious gold.”

She’s not afraid to speak out on political or social issues. She uttered with her usual force, “The true ‘Goddess of Motherhood’ right now for me is Brooke Shields and her reaction to Tom Cruise’s comment about postpartum depression.”  She also shared that supermodel Emme had hooked her up with plus designer Abby Z (www.abbyz.com). “Anything I can do to promote fashion and plus size clothes, I’m there.”  I asked what her favorite line of jeans was and she stated without hesitation, “Venezia tall, flare leg from Lane Bryant (www.lanebryant.com) - and also Baby Phat (www.babyphat.com) . But I would like them a lot more with some flare…”

Camryn’s passion for fashion is only trumped by her care for causes. Visit her website to see the myriad of organizations she personally supports, including Doctors Without Borders, The Anti-Defamation League, The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, Project Angel Food, and The American Civil Liberties Union. As if that’s not enough, Camryn declared, “Obviously with Sandra Day O’Connor stepping down from the bench my involvement with Planned Parenthood will be more active this year, and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – my support for organizations such as the Actors and Others for Animals - Katrina Emergency Relief Fund.


Finally, while we’re on the subject of television, I asked for her thoughts about the ‘Reality TV Show’ craze. Her answer was clear and direct. “I think Reality TV took us away from having any talent…The fascination with American Idol (Fox) and Dancing with the Stars (ABC) is they have talent. Ultimately talent will sustain in an entertainment arena over reality. We live in reality. Most of the reality shows are based in humiliation and that had to fail as people stopped being so drawn to watching others being humiliated.  It was being used to make themselves feel better about their own lives, a panacea of sorts.  I thought it was a really interesting comment on humanity.  The reality shows, the ones that are thriving like American Idol -- everyone wins on American Idol because it is about talent in the end. I’m no philosopher but I think it is interesting we fell in love with reality shows -- sociologically. I am happy to say that reality shows are out and talent is back in -- talent will always trump reality.”

Sound words from a very talented role model.

For more info on Camryn, log onto her website to keep up with the release dates of her latest movies, updates on TV projects, fashion finds and links to her favorite causes www.camrynmanheim.com.

Upcoming Movies and Projects from Camryn Manheim

An Unfinished Life
With Robert Redford & Jennifer Lopez.

Drama about the relationship between a down-and-out woman who is desperate to care for her daughter, moves in with her father-in-law, from whom she is estranged. Through time they learn to forgive one another and heal old wounds.  Released September, 2005 Miramax Production

Directed by Lasse Hallestrom 

Behind the Smile
Directed and starring Dayman Waymans

A tragi-comedy based on the life of Mikki Shore, who created and managed the Comedy Store. No release date as of now. Release to be late 2005.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’s Ballroom Dancing and Charm School
With William Hurt, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen and Michael Ray Bower

Drama/Comedy about a widowed man’s life turned upside down when he embarks on a journey to find a dying man’s lost love. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival No release date as of now. From MGM.

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
With Patricia Arquette and Sean Austin

Tells the story of a robbery gone wrong that ends up badly for everyone involved. No release date as of October 2005.


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