‘Shameless’ Star Shanola Hampton on TV’s Dysfunctional Gem and Motherhood

Shanola _Hampton1


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.