'Shameless' Star Shanola Hampton on TV’s Dysfunctional Gem and Motherhood
Showtime’s Shameless tells the story of a maladjusted clan that make dysfunctional predecessors like the Simpsons or the Bundy’s look like the Brady’s. Now it in fifth's season, we're finally getting an inside look at this TV gem.
During our one on one with show star Shanola Hampton, we learned more about the shamelessly addictive show, her well-adjusted life as a new mommy and the journey to stardom.
Check it out.
VIBE Vixen- Congratulations on the new addition to your family! How are you liking motherhood?
Shanola- Thank you! I love it! It’s been really great, she is such a cool kid (laughs). I must say I was prepared for motherhood ,I have so many nieces and nephews , and I’ve been a god mother for such a long time . I also believe that being older plays a big part- it’s been a nice transition. It’s surreal sometimes, just to know that I have a daughter.
Tell us about Shameless.
The show is about an alcoholic father who is played by the wonderful William H. Macy, who is completely dysfunctional. He has five kids and the head of the household is his eldest daughter Fiona, played by Emmy Rossum. Their mother is bi-polar, so she is not in the picture. These children fend for themselves and Fiona is the matriarch and the patriarch -it is all sorts of insanity. I play the neighbor and best friend of the oldest, Veronica, and we are in a very committed friendship , which is quite "spicy" ( laughs) .The show is really about how these people get through life ; they do a lot of foolery but at the end of the day you see how much they love each other.
Are there any similarities between you and your character Vee?
Yes definitely. My character is loyal, caring, and she says it like she means it. Vee is the moral compass of a lot of what happens because she is really smart. Although we are similar we are very different; we are both hustlers, but her hustle is a lot different from mine…A LOT (laughs).
What do you love most about your job?
That it is a fun working environment and it doesn’t really feel like I’m working. I love the people I get to work with. I love the writing, I love being in the make-up chair -there’s just so much that I love, I can go on and on for days. This is my dream job, and I love that I am living this dream that I’ve had since I was four years old.
Describe the journey up until now. We know there are a lot of aspiring actresses out there--what is your advice for them?
It’s definitely a long road. At first I thought I would be on the stage , because I was a stage actor. My dad was really big on education so I majored in theatre at Winthrop University , and then I went to graduate school at the University of Illinois. While in school I came to LA to do an internship with a casting office, just to sort of learn about the ins and outs of the business . I told myself if this was the business I wanted to be in I need to know all there is about it. That summer internship changed my life. As an intern ,the casting directors kind of took to me and asked me if I wanted to audition for a show called Popular which was created by Glee’s Ryan Murphy. I was going to go back to graduate school but then I said , “ You know what I am going to audition!” That decision got me my SAG, my role, and my manager. That summer truly changed my life.
Everything happened so fast; I was on a roll, but then suddenly things started to slow down. There was the strike, and I was bartending to pay the bills- it was a mess. But fast-forward ten years later, I booked Shameless. They say you have a ten year window and for me that was definitely true. You have to have a lot of patience, really thick skin, and a high tolerance for rejection in this business. You can’t wait for people to hand things to you, you have to get out there and get it yourself sometimes.
Why should we watch Shameless?
For me, and to see what I am wearing! (laughs) just kidding. To be honest it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to admit there’s no show like Shameless on television. It’s a unique show, and it’s a crazy ride. You feel things you never thought you would feel; this show has so much insanity yet so much heart that it makes you anticipate next week’s episode. There are so many characters that are “characters” and I feel many viewers can identify with one of them, or at least one situation. Dysfunction drives the show; It’s not about the glitz and glamour of television, it’s about people who don’t have much that are trying to survive.