10 Questions For… Shanola Hampton

by Ceylan Kumbarji

You probably recognise Shanola Hampton as one of the stars of Showtime’s award-winning show Shameless, where she’s been portraying Veronica ‘V’ Ball for the past six years. She plays the sassy, hilarious neighbour and with the sixth season airing now, Shanola tells us about her experiences so far. The show has been picked up for a seventh season which will premiere next year but Shanola also has some other big projects lined up… baby number 2 is on the way! She shares her favourite thing about working on Shameless, what type of roles she’d love to try and what advice she would give to her younger self.

Taylor Magazine: What’s your first memory of realising you wanted to be an actress?

Shanola Hampton: I knew when I was 4 years old. I did a local talent show in my town, and fell in love with the stage. My mother enrolled me in classes at the local theatres and I always wanted to be an actress.

Taylor Magazine: You’ve been playing Veronica on Shameless for six years which is incredible! What’s it been like for you to be on a show for so long and what’s your favourite part?

Shanola Hampton: Incredible is a great description. I get to work with people I adore, doing great material for a great network. Truly a dream come true. My favourite part is the cast. We’ve been together a long time, had some real experiences together and we still laugh all the time.

Taylor Magazine: Do you have anything in common with V?

Shanola Hampton: I always say V and I have a similar spirit but a different hustle. V is very street, I’m a southern suburban girl. She is loyal and true to those she loves, and so am I.

Taylor Magazine: You’ve been on a huge journey with her character. Do you feel like you know everything about her? Are you totally confident with the role?

Shanola Hampton: Confident with the role? Yes. Know everything about her? Absolutely not. At the point I feel that way, it will be time to say goodbye to her. There is always something that surprises me each season, that’s what makes it so fun! You’ll see stories develop this season that I would have never seen V doing so she is always surprising me.

Taylor Magazine: Do you ever get nervous when you read the script?

Shanola Hampton: I get nervous sometimes about the fans reaction to certain storylines. I was really nervous after V had the babies last season. I often read the script and have the, “Wow, this is going to be shocking…” reaction. This season is no exception.

Taylor Magazine: Have you faced any challenges to get to where you are? What big lessons have you learned?

Shanola Hampton: Absolutely, so many! The business is challenging, add being a female person of colour to an already challenging business, and use your imagination. I’ve learnt to be resilient… to remain positive even when unfairness occurs. I love acting, but not the business part of the business.

Taylor Magazine: What draws you to a role? Is there anything you’d really love to try next?

Shanola Hampton: It’s hard choosing work when you are on a successful, well written show. You want to make sure you choose roles that show you different from the character you normally play, and scripts that are equally well written. That’s what I look for when doing projects outside of Shameless. For roles I’d like to try next, l WANT TO BE MONICA RAMBEAU! And, I really want to do something with action and show my on-screen fighting skills.

Taylor Magazine: Your daughter is 2 now. How do you find it balancing a career and being a mother?

Shanola Hampton: It’s been made easier by my partner in life, my husband. He is a true partner and we’ve chosen to work together without daily help. I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughter, but I also love my work.  I have no secret formula, I play it day by day and make it work.

Taylor Magazine: What TV shows are you watching at the moment?

Shanola Hampton: So many. I’m watching both Real Housewives franchises currently airing, Blackish, Billions, Downton Abbey, The Grinder, Top Chef, Love and Hip Hop, the list goes on. I’m waiting for the return of How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, Nashville, and The Walking Dead.

Taylor Magazine: How do you slow down and de-stress?

Shanola Hampton: Easy. Cupcakes and television. I’m more of a home body than anyone would think and I LOVE sweets. I eat dessert nightly.

Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Shanola Hampton: Keep pushing chica, your time is coming.

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