Camryn Manheim was born in March 08, 1961. Born in New Jersey and raised in Illinois and California by her teacher parents, Manheim moved to NYC after college to pursue graduate studies at NYU. Her mother, Sylvia, was a schoolteacher and her father, Jerry, was a math professor. She developed an interest in acting after working at a Renaissance Fair at age 16. She earned a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 1987. Manheim received her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has taught and guest lectured all over the United States. She studied acting at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in Chelsea, which was founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy and teaches the technique "Practical Aesthetics," which Ms. Manheim uses. Camryn changed her name from Debra when she was 20— worked at one, and afterward decided she would be an actress! She is currently a member of the company at the Atlantic Theater, and she sometimes performs in shows during their season. After graduating, Manheim made her screen debut with a miniscule role in Bonfire of the Vanities in 1990. A long series of similarly minor roles in films ranging from Jeffrey (1995) to Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) followed before she was cast in The Practice in 1997. After winning fame and an Emmy for her work on the show, Manheim gained additional exposure and respect with her role as a denizen of Todd Solondz's dysfunctional New Jersey suburbia in the acclaimed Happiness (1998). The following year, in addition to winning a Golden Globe and another Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Ellenor Frutt, Manheim continued to act in films, appearing in Fools Gold and Joe the King, both of which were shown at the 1999 Sundance Festival.
In the decades to come, Manheim would appear in several films, like An Unfinished Life and Slipstream, as well as on several successful TV series, like The L Word, Ghost Whisperer, and Harry's Law.
In addition to acting, Manheim also authored Wake Up, I'm Fat, a memoir that began life as a one-woman show at New York's Public Theatre. By turns funny and excruciating, it details the actress's transformation from wholesome middle American to tattooed, dozen- arranged California biker, her struggles with those who told her she'd have to lose weight to fit in, and the trials and tribulations of making it in the entertainment industry.
Overlooked for parts because of her size, she lost 87 pounds and became a leading player, although once she graduated and was unable to find steady employment, she gained back the weight. Fellow NYU student Tony Kushner provided a role for her Off-Off-Broadway debut in "Hydriotaphia" in 1987. Playwright-director Michael Mayer cast her in seven productions and Stephen Sondheim helped her find an agent. Manheim received an OBIE Award for her performance in a 1994 production of Craig Lucas' "Missing Persons". While she has been able to carve a career as an actress, Manheim has often been rejected for roles because of her height and/or weight. Adamantly avoiding caricature roles, she has found work on New York-based soap operas, made four guest appearances on NBC's "Law & Order" and appeared in episodes of "Touched By an Angel" and "Chicago Hope" and had supporting roles in such projects as "Notes For My Daughter", a 1995 "ABC Afterschool Special", and the CBS TV-movie "Deadly Whispers" (1995). Manheim took home a 1998 Emmy and a 1999 Golden Globe for her work as "The Practice" hard-driving and occasionally ethically-challenged Eleanor Frutt, and her excellent dramatic work and off-screen popularity helped her survive the infamous 2003 bloodletting in which several long-standing castmembers--including leads Lara Flynn Boyle and Dylan McDermott--were released from the series. Building on her series success, Manheim nabbed supporting roles in numerous film and TV projects, including playing a post-modern Snow White in the miniseries "The 10th Kingdom" (2000), the Garry Shandling comedy "What Planet Are You From?" (2000), the respected indie "The Tic Code" (2000), the acclaimed HBO biopic "The Larramie Project" (2002), the horror movie spoof "Scary Movie 3" (2003) and director Phillip Kaufman's thriller "Twisted" (2004). In 2005 she landed the key role of Gladys Presley, mother of the future king of rock and roll in the CBS TV miniseries "Elvis," and she had a supporting turn as a school teacher in the horror thriller "Dark Water," starring Jennifer Connelly.
After toiling in minor film roles for years, Camryn Manheim finally attained the fame and respect denied to many overweight women who attempt to make it as actresses in Hollywood. In 1998, Manheim came to the attention of television audiences when she won a Best Supporting Actress Emmy for her role as lawyer Ellenor Frutt on David E. Kelley's acclaimed law drama The Practice. Hoisting her award in the air and exuberantly declaring, "This is for all the fat girls!", the actress won over millions of viewers, many of whom may not have been aware of her existence before the awards ceremony.
She scored a personal triumph with her one-person Off-Broadway hit "Wake Up, I'm Fat" which has led to a growing number of roles in all media. Manheim landed the regular role of the opinionated lawyer Ellenor Frutt on the ABC series "The Practice" (1997- ). Her best-recalled big screen roles were "The Road to Wellville" (1994), in which she appeared in the nude and spent most of the time explaining the ins and outs of the spa to Bridget Fonda, and "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997), in which she was Toby, the perennial organizer of events and object of Janeane Garofalo's barbs.