We’re Shameless & On the Edge With Actor Shanola Hampton

Actor Shanola Hampton sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the second episode of “On The Edge,” a new podcast spotlighting stories of opportunity, discovery, and courage. In the newest episode, Hampton talks about being an activist, tackling various social issues in Shameless, and her favorite takeaways from the show. “On The Edge” is a capsule podcast series that is part of the “At Home With The Creative Coalition” podcast.

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Highlights from “On The Edge” featuring Shanola Hampton —

Shanola Hampton on how she got involved in being an activist:
“My grandfather, on my mother’s side, he was a great activist, a great activist. He marched with everyone and did everything, he was a minister as well. My dads a bishop so we come from a line of ministry, we tackle great issues and have a great care for the world. So that’s something that was embedded in me. My grandfather would want the black community to vote and so we would ride around in his Station Wagon car and he would put a horn at the top of the car. He was a tall slender man, with the deepest voice, dark dark man and he would say ‘Get out and vote, if you don’t have a ride we will pick you up. We fought for this right, we must use it’ and so I learned that very very early on. My mother was very big on women’s issues and advocating for women and making sure that she was a selfless giver meaning she gave without needing to be recognized for giving of herself.”

Hampton on tackling issues, like mental health and obesity, in Shameless:
“I think that the toughest challenge is making it make sense for the script. I think that’s what Shameless did very well because we lived in the world to the present. I think a lot of times in the work that we’re seeing in the movies, in the television industry, were in that specific world and not in this world. This Is Us, actually, is probably the closest thing we have seen that has dealt with it or discussed it and that’s a major platform because it’s been a major show for those two characters and going through the different things throughout the years so that would be one of the ones that has done it and done it well… No one ever wants to be preached to- not about their mental health issues, not about obesity, not about any of these…What they want is an ‘aha’ moment. What Shameless did well when we tackled mental illness, was give our character a mental illness and watch him battle through it and then still have a productive life and get his husband and have a life after but all the struggles that led up to seeing it, diagnosing it, getting the help for it, falling from getting the help, going back and getting help- the entire struggle of what happens… that’s where we have to really get to. We have to get to a place where we have it where people are seeing it but they are seeing it in a way that they don’t feel like they are getting a sermon.”

Hampton on when she first read the Shameless script:
“I thought, and this is the truth, I laid in bed at my home and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, what is this’. I really was shocked at what they were going to put on the air… Shameless, people have to understand, when we started our show, the industry was not what it is now with all these risqués, “Euphoria” and these other shows. We were like pioneers for what it meant to think outside of the box… It’s either going to be a hit or people are going to be angry. Either way, high risk high reward for a show like that. I was so proud of, at the time, Showtime for being savvy enough… it was on the edge and they took it and they jumped and they took a really big leap.”

Hampton on her favorite Shameless episode as Veronica Fisher (V):
“My favorite episode for V is when Kev’s ex-wife comes back and she’s (V) torn up because the ex-wife comes back and V is so broken because she thinks she lost our Kevin. She comes in and she says, ‘What are you doing? You know what you big dummy? That kid is not yours’ and V’s sitting at the Gallagher kitchen table, says, ‘Say what now?’ and she takes her earrings off and commences to whoop that behind… It was so epic. I did all of my stunts for every single take. In my mind, I want to be a superhero at some point.”

Hampton on the show tackling issues, like gentrification and Alzheimer’s, and putting that into reality:
“I think that was important. I think it was important to John Wells and all of our fabulous writers… We have been tackling issues from the beginning. We really truly have it you know when you’re dealing with a family who has an alcoholic father and an absentee mother that’s a very real family dynamic for a lot of people either both cases are true or one is true so for us to really talk about that and then at the end of it we don’t complain about it you live through it and love through it and you have a community that you create to get into. And I thought that that was a beautiful thing throughout the entirety of the run of Shameless.”


THE CREATIVE COALITION is the premier nonprofit, 501(c)(3) nonpartisan charity of the entertainment industry dedicated to using the power and platform of the arts and entertainment communities in award-winning public service and advocacy campaigns. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s president. www.TheCreativeCoalition.org