By Anya Middleton
Shanola Hampton, a Summerville, South Carolina native, can be seen as a popular character on Showtime’s “Shameless.” Her character Veronica is vibrant, wild, and very sexually expressive. Veronica, along with the show’s lead Fionna, find themselves in a lot of interesting situations to say the least. Although Veronica is known for her wild and edgy character, Hampton is almost a completely different person.
“First of all, I don’t do mean,” Hampton said, which is a motto she carries throughout her life. Hampton is a true Southern girl, the daughter of a pastor, a wife and mother of two.
So what does “Pastor Dad” Gralin Hampton have to say about his daughter’s role on screen? He is extremely supportive as any father would be. “Shanola has always been over the top– or for lack of a better word, wild. Although her show may be a bit much for many Christian households, we know she is just acting and we know her heart and mind are still with the Lord,” Gralin Hampton said.
Keeping good values and being a good person remain important to Shanola Hampton, who still attends church every Sunday. Hampton has not adopted a crazy Hollywood lifestyle. She says her faith and the support of friends has helped her remain level headed
“The key is education,” Hampton said when asked how a small town girl has made it this far. “Unlike many of the cliché Hollywood stories you may hear about people in the business, I didn’t just up and move to California with a dollar and a dream. I studied and perfected my craft and I obtained two degrees before moving to Los Angeles.”
A proud graduate of Winthrop University, Hampton earned her masters at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While studying in Illinois, she also gained some of her most meaningful experiences as an actress. She lessons she learned made a huge impact in her career. “Just after my mother passed, I landed the role of Charlotte in ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ It was one of the most influential parts of my career because it was my first time playing and learning how to be a lead. It also came at a pivotal moment in my life. This would be the first work I was in that my mother wouldn’t see in person,” Hampton said.
Hampton leads a normal life. She says her life revolves around her daughter, Cai, aged 3, and her son, Doc, aged 1. She wakes up before sunrise, goes to the gym and then comes home to cook breakfast for her children. During her work week she takes her children to different extracurricular and cultural activities, meets with friends and business partners, and spends quality time with her husband.
“Veronica and I are alike in the way that we are both free spirited and adventurous,” said Daren Dukes, her husband. “Shanola, like her character Veronica, has a vibrant personality and a smile that lights up the room. Although Veronica’s adventures are more on the risqué side, Hampton’s adventures include her love of travelling the world and trying new crazy things.
“I’m not against trying everything once,” Hampton said. She and her husband travel internationally once a year and make it a point to try something new and exciting with every trip. “We actually just got back from a trip around Canada! It was so serene,” Hampton said, “My favorite part was the food of course. My friend’s family made us a seafood feast of lobster and scallops that was to die for. The meal is still heavy on my mind even days later.”
Hampton and Dukes, are celebrating 17 years of marriage this year. They are a college love story; they met on the campus of Winthrop University. Hearing Dukes talk about his wife is truly special. One can see the love he has for her on his face.
Duke’s main focus right now is to support his wife.. “Shanola and I have always made a great team. This time in our lives it is extremely important for me to support her as career continues to flourish. We have reversed the ‘norm’ gender roles, I stay home with our children when she shoots, which in 2017 we don’t see a problem with and don’t know why others would,” Dukes said.
He said that he never wants his wife to feel held back or overwhelmed and he goes the extra mile to be help her.
Outside of her family life, Hampton loves to give back to the community. One of the main foundations she supports is the Art of Elysium, which empowers communities to join together and emotionally triumph over circumstances through art, She will be recognized for her work for the foundation next year.
She is passionate motivating others, “It took over a thousand ‘no’s’ before I got that one ‘yes’ that changed my life. It is so extremely important to me to encourage others to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.”
Shanola’s sister Andrea Hampton, who is a South Carolina school principal can attest to this. “Shanola has been to my school several times to speak to the students. I work in a very rural area with less than 500 students and Shanola’s visit is something that the children don’t ever stop talking about. Former students who are on their way to college still rush up to me with memories of the times she came to visit them. It means a lot to me because all students don’t come from . . . encouraging households however she provided them with encouragement to last them a life time,” Andrea Hampton said.
“Acting has been my passion since I was a very little girl, I just hope that I can inspire others to achieve their dreams and wishes as well,” Shanola Hampton said. She said she is fortunate to have the support of wonderful fans. She feels that “Shameless” is just the beginning of her career and is excited for the future.