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Home from college and quarantining with his Emmy-winning mom, rising star Milo Manheim is experiencing an “awakening” within his matriarchal family

By Jason Sheeler
August 13, 2020 09:00 AM
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Six months into quarantine, Camryn and Milo Manheim decided to grow their family.

The family added eight more legs to their home in Venice, California: a pair of adopted kittens from the Stray Cat Alliance. “You want to know what family means to us?” Milo, 19, tells PEOPLE while holding one of the new apricot-hued kittens, Slim, under a canopy of palm trees. “It’s three cats.”

On cue, their first cat, a large 14-year-old tabby named Jeff, walks across their Spanish-tiled patio. Mewing ensues along the canal.

“There are so many definitions for family now,” Camryn, 59, says, petting Slim’s brother, Ziggy — officially Ziggy Marley Stardust. “Family is whom you’re with, who makes you feel good. Who is your cheerleader?”

  • For more from Milo and Camryn Manheim, pick up PEOPLE's inaugural Family Issue, on newsstands Friday
Camryn and Milo Manheim
Camryn and Milo Manheim
| Credit: Ari Michelson

The mother-son duo cheer loudly. Raised by Camryn, Milo (whose father is a friend of Camryn’s, former model Jeffrey Brezovar) entered the family business as a toddler. Through his work on the Disney Channel Zombie movies — and his 2018, second-place finish on Dancing with the Stars — he’s become a social media star and a heartthrob. “One day he’s a snot-nosed middle schooler and then the next day, boom!” Camryn laughs.

WITNEY CARSON, MILO MANHEIM
Witney Carson and Milo Manheim on Dancing with the Stars

Until recently, Camryn (known for her Emmy-winning turn on The Practice) was an empty-nester, with Milo across the country at New York University. The pandemic brought Milo back home — and brought their tight-knit clan (along with friends she considers family) back together. “My family is a family of choice,” says Camryn, who is currently starring on Stumptown. “I’ve learned during this time that we are loud. We care about humanity — whether it’s political, financial, or the environment.”

The protests have allowed her to see her family in action. “My 95-year-old mother was protesting even during the times of COVID,” Camryn says proudly. “With picket signs and a cane.” Milo agrees. “Bubby [Camryn’s mother], she’s the root of our family tree. Wherever she is, that’s where the memories are made.”

MILO MANHEIM
Camryn and Milo Manheim in 2011
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

“It’s a matriarchy here,” Camryn says with a smile. She looks at her son proudly and down at the “Queen of Hearts” tattoo on Milo’s left forearm he inked in her honor. (It’s Camryn’s nickname.)

“I'm starting to have this awakening,” Milo says of what he’s experienced and learned during the quarantine. “I'm seeing how our family talks to each other, how we're always there for each other — and how we're always loud.” Camryn leans in for a nuzzle. “We’re even stronger now,” she says.