Interview with Shanola Hampton

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Shanola Hampton is more than an actor, she is a wife, mom and a die hard Minnesota Vikings fan as well. All those traits that make up her personhood are also what infuse her on-screen personalties with the humanity that brings her characters to life. Shanola stars as Veronica Fisher in the award winning Showtime series Shameless. We had a chance to catch up with Shanola and talk about what starring on a hit show is like, obstacles she has had to overcome in her career and how she got to where she is as well as what is ahead for her. She also shares her own personal life motto.

Tell me a bit about your background, and how you got into acting?

I’m from Summerville, SC.  I knew I wanted to be an actor ever since I was four years old. My mother was instrumental in taking me to audition for local plays.  I was very active with the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, SC.  That had a program called Wings that I did through high school.  From high school I majored in Theatre at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC followed by my Masters of Fine Arts degree from University of Illinois.

Tell me a bit about Shameless, what are you most excited about?

Right now I’m most excited that we celebrated our 100TH episode.  It’s been such an incredible experience, with amazing people, tell great stories.  I love that we take risk, that we are unapologetically SHAMELESS. 

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

How is it playing your character with the rest of the cast?

We have an incredible cast, so much talent.  Playing opposite them for 9 seasons is a dream!  My partner Steve Howey, is my best friend, my love, and the funniest man in Hollywood.  Being the V to his Kev has been one of the highlights in my life.

Fun facts who/ what inspires you? Why?

My Grandmother! She’s 90, still active, we talk everyday. She watches the show. She always says “do your best.”  Those words, as simple as they are make me work harder and be better.

What are you up to when you're not acting?

I’m a mom! A soccer mom, gymnastics mom, tee ball mom, ice skating mom, piano mom, dance mom, mom, mom, mom! 

What's one fact people might not know about you?

I’m a home body.  I love to stay at home! I try to avoid going out at night as much as possible.

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

What advice would you give to a talented, driven actor who’s just starting their career?

My advice is to make sure you are embarking on this path because it’s your passion and not be driven by fame.  It’s a hard road, many doors will be slammed in your face, if it’s not inside you as your true passion you can really succumb to a lot of negative things.

Can you share the biggest obstacle you've faced in your career, and how you overcame it?

So many obstacles.  Just being a black woman in Hollywood was and in many ways still is an obstacle.  Having roles, equal pay, I could list many.  I have and continue to overcome them by positive thinking.  My motto is easy breezy living.

What’s your process for preparing for a new role? Are there any routines or habits you practice to approach playing a new character?

Each role is different, so I prepare differently depending on the role.  I’m not a method actor though, so if I were to play a homeless person, I’m not going to go live on the street for a week.

What qualities do you think make a great actor?

Being honest and free. Bold in choices, and not self aware.

What's coming up? Any projects you're involved in or looking forward to, besides what you’re working on now?

Yes! I have a movie for TVOne called Three’s Complicated which I am the star of as well as an executive producer.  Also a fabulous film I did with Robyn Lively called Through the Glass Darkly.  Really great film!

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Photo by Leslie Alejandro

Talent: Shanola Hampton x Portrait PR
Photographer: Leslie Alejandro