Actress Shanola Hampton who stars on the Showtime series Shameless, which is about to head into its sixth season, is a Charleston, S.C/Somerville native who says she spends a lot of time in the area. The TJMS crew headed into Charleston today and Hampton says they couldn’t have made a better choice.
“All my family’s still there,” she says. “We are like a cult. We’re very, very close. I’m there three or four times a year for extended periods of time. I’m not talking three days. I’m talking three weeks. It’s great!”
Hampton, who also starred with Power star Omari Hardwick in the indie romance Things Never Said is a ‘PK’ or Preacher’s Kid that says her family watches the show despite the language, sex and drugs that are prominently featured.
“My grandmother still lives there. She’s 86 years old and she loves the show, especially the racy stuff. My grandma’s the coolest of the cool. My father flips the station sometimes and then he flips back and I’m still doing scenes so he has to flip it again. Everyone’s very supportive and they understand the difference between work and my real life. They know who I am. I’ve grown up there and they’ve known me my whole life. Everytime I come home, I still sing solos for my daddy before he goes up to preach. They know the difference between Shanola and Veronica [her character on Shameless].
Though almost any and everything goes on on TV these days, Shameless is known for its controversial and overtly sexual storylines. One of them was when Veronica asks her mother to carry a baby for her when she has trouble getting pregnant. But instead of finding a surrogate, Veronica asks her mother to sleep with her husband until she conceives. (In real life, Hampton is a happily married mother of one daughter.) And generally, Hampton is require to be topless at least once an episode.
“Who would ask for that?” says Hampton. “One season I was pregnant [on the show] so I got to keep my clothes on the entire season.”
Hampton, an alumni of Charleston’s Dock Street Theater was the first African-American to star in a show there. She played Charlotte in a production of Charlotte’s Web.
“It was a really big deal, especially for my town. I got a lot of my training done at the Wings program there. My mother would drive me there twice a week.”
Shameless returns to Showtime for Season 6 in early 2016.