Shanola Hampton, star of Showtime’s comedy drama series “Shameless,” recently starred in a new film called “Things Never Said,” which she considered a true “love project” that was a new experience for her, she said.
Hampton is best known for her role as the sassy character Veronica in “Shameless” but taking on the role of Kalindra in “Things Never Said,” which is scheduled for DVD release on December 3, challenged her in a new way.
“This was a movie unlike any other project I’ve ever done because I really threw myself into this character because this is how people are living,” she told Atlanta Black Star. “There are so many people being domestically abused and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just an actor acting out a story. I wanted to really give these women a voice, so I had to emotionally go there and sort of lose myself in this character, which is not something that I often or can probably honestly say I’ve never actually done before. But it was so important for me to do that.”
Hampton’s commitment seems to have paid off; she was even deemed “the film’s greatest asset” by The Washington Post.
“You know, you do the work and you hope that people love it and you hope that people respond to it. So to get acclaim for that, especially after I was still kind of struggling with all these emotions, it was very encouraging to know that I went there and it was scary and it was hard but it was worth it,” Hampton said.
She also revealed why she felt so much pressure to dive so deep into her character. Charles Murray, the director, shared with the cast that his mother had suffered from serious domestic abuse and while the movie wasn’t necessarily based on her life, it was certainly inspired by it.
“When I heard the real story of what she went through being domestically abused, to the point where one time the tip of her fingers were cut [after being attacked with a vase],” Hampton said, “it was hard to keep your emotions in check. . . I tried to manage. You never want to drive yourself crazy. That’s not a healthy way to be, but it was definitely an emotional roller coaster.”
In the midst of promoting the new movie, Hampton has also been preparing for the arrival of a baby girl. At nearly eight months pregnant, she said she had a lovely baby shower that revealed just how close she managed to get with her fellow cast mates.
“Oh, the baby shower was amazing,” she said. “It was such a love fest! Of course, (actress) Pamela Jones showed out and just bought the baby ridiculous amounts of clothes and presents. She was just so great. it was just such a love fest.
“This has been such a great time. My husband and I are in the most blissful times of our lives.”
Hampton shared more with ABS:
On working with the star-studded cast: “Pamela Jones is a queen. She’s been in this business so long; she’s so open. It was very easy to just be best friends with her. She’s still one of my dear friends now and she just was so much fun to work with and then being able to work with the boys who were so loving and so caring and so protective of me because I had to go through such a journey with this script.”
On the pressure to bring Charles Murray’s mother’s voice to life: “It definitely put extra weight on me because I wanted to do it justice. His mother is now passed away and so that last monologue is kind of that gift that he gave her to say what she needed to say, so it put a lot of weight on me to make sure that, because she’s not with us, that I got to tell who she needed to tell off in this life, in this realm.”
On filming the love-making scene with Omari Hardwick: “You know, what happens with really any love scene you have to have this respect. I’ve been married for (13 years) to a really wonderful man and once you’ve established that you’re good in your situation at home and there’s gotta be a respect level that you have to have for your spouse as far as scenes like that. With Omari it was easy for us to just go there and do it and what they did was they just shot that scene and they just let the cameras roll and we were done with it. With some other love scenes, what happens is you have take after take after take. But they just let the cameras roll and we did the scene and we were done. You have to trust the person that you’re working with and I trusted him completely.”
On the interesting dynamics of the characters: “There were no real heroes in the story. Everybody is just trying to make the best decisions that they can given the circumstances and . . . everyone was doing wrong somehow except for the brother character who was sort of more of the voice of reason. But everyone else . . . was very flawed.
“I think it’s so important, especially for our young women, to see that when they get caught up in situations that they stay strong enough to find their own voices. We as a people in general and women in (particular) are very, very strong and probably stronger than most people give us credit for. You know, on television and films you rarely see that strength being portrayed, especially in people of color. You see the black bitch or the momma that’s just so hard, but you never see just a real story that has a bit of a love story in there, and then her getting lost and being able to pull herself together and get out. So it was very important for me to show that.”
On her upcoming Lifetime movie, Christmas in the City, which airs December 7: “I’m so excited. People see me in ‘Shameless’ and then I was lucky enough for people to see me in ‘Things Never Said,’ which is very heavy and dark and this solid character, so it was really nice to just do a Christmas movie because we’re basically smiling in every scene. This particular movie I get to sing in it so people can see ‘OK, she can actually sing.’ It was just a whole different showcase for me and it’s Lifetime and it’s light and it’s pretty, so it’s completely different from anything that people have seen me in so I’m really excited for December 7 for people to see just a whole different lighter side. It’s more like how I am in real life: very fun and warm.”