Milo Manheim Says He's Not 'Ashamed' of His Disney Roots and Has 'Never' Taken a Handout from Mom Camryn (Exclusive)

The actor, who got his start on Disney Channel's 'Zombies,' tells PEOPLE he's "looking forward to seeing what projects the future holds"

<p>Oscar Del Aguila/Variety via Getty</p>

Oscar Del Aguila/Variety via Getty

Milo Manheim is being intentional with himself this year.

A self-defined “people pleaser,” the 22-year-old actor tells PEOPLE exclusively in a new interview that he is making choices that keep him happy in 2024.

“I think that in this job where things happen so quickly, it’s really important to check in and be like ‘What am I super excited about and what should I do more of?’,” he says. “Everyone is just trying to create the best career for themselves.”

Manheim got his break with Disney when he was cast as Zed in the 2018 Disney Channel original movie Zombies.

The actor — who went on to reprise his role in Zombies 2 and Zombies 3, and star in Prom Pact — is “very grateful” to have launched his career with Disney.

“It’s a really happy environment and I’ve had a great time with them,” he says. “They’ve offered me opportunities to travel the world, meet incredible people, sing and dance, and I’m very grateful to them for providing such a unique, exciting start to my career.”

Related: Milo Manheim & Meg Donnelly Reveal the Moment 'Zombies' Became a Hit

Disney+ Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly in 'Zombies 3.'
Disney+ Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly in 'Zombies 3.'

Manheim spent 2023 taking on roles in movies and shows outside of Disney, including the film Journey to Bethlehem, the Netflix series School Spirits, which has been renewed for a second season, and the horror movie Thanksgiving, which also stars Patrick Dempsey and Addison Rae. “I learned so much this past year,” he says. “Each project offered something completely new and different and gave me a better understanding of myself. Collecting experiences and relationships has been amazing… I was just embracing everything with open arms.”

As he continues to grow up — “I’m a 6’3” guy… I can’t play a high schooler forever,” he says — the Zombies star is ready for whatever transition lies ahead.

“I love Disney, and I will never be ashamed of being a Disney kid. I’ll always be proud of that. I also know how capable I am as an actor," he says. "Making a smooth transition is something you have to feel out as you move through it. I'm always going to be authentic and genuine. I'm a very silly person and will always carry that with me.”

Regardless of where his journey takes him, Manheim knows he is on the right path. “I always wanted to act and perform,” the former Dancing with the Stars contestant says. “I always had a little voice in my head that said, ‘You can do this. You’re good at it,’ and I find that with each project, I have a better understanding of myself. If I hadn’t booked Zombies, I don’t know if I would be here, but I’m so happy that I found this love and this passion.”

<p>Peranza</p> Milo Manheim.


Milo Manheim.

Related: 'She Taught Me to Be Loud': What Milo Manheim Has Learned from His Mother Camryn

Manheim credits his mom, actress Camryn Manheim, 62, for sparking his interest in the industry. “I grew up on set with my mom and I love the fact that we can have deep conversations about the craft of acting. It’s one of the things that really connects us, one of our deepest passions.”

The Thanksgiving actor says part of what makes his relationship with his mother so special is that they are “artists who can relate to one another,” but also their ability to communicate. “She’s a single mom. I’m an only child. I spent the first 18 years of my life with her every day,” Manheim says. “What makes our connection so special is that we’re both willing to put in the work and that we have spent so many years actively working on our relationship…. We make each other better, bottom line.”

While they share a love of acting, Manheim has made a point to chart his own path in the industry. “I love this work and am so passionate about it. I haven’t taken any handouts nor would I ever,” he tells PEOPLE. “I’ve realized that it’s really important for me to do these things by myself to feel proud of them.”

Ari Michelson Camryn and Milo Manheim.
Ari Michelson Camryn and Milo Manheim.

The 22-year-old has a lot of acting left to do and is excited to see what’s in store. “As we make the transition [out of Disney], I'm looking forward to seeing what projects the future holds,” he says. “It’s such an unpredictable industry, and I’m learning to love the spontaneity of it all. We’ll see what other people I become.”

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