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Q&A: Shanola Hampton

The Shameless actress talks post-baby workouts and Bachelor in Paradise

For seven seasons Shanola Hampton has starred as the sassy and sensual Veronica “V” Ball on Showtime’s hit dramedy Shameless. The actress gave birth to a baby boy only six weeks before production started on the show’s latest season, which premieres on Showtime October 2, and Shanola made sure she was ready. “Right before I was due to give birth I went to the gym, because we all know Veronica loves to show cleavage!” she jokes. Shanola took some time out from filming and being a mom to talk about post-baby workouts, being part of an on-screen polygamous relationship and her obsession with reality TV. 

What can viewers expect from season seven of Shameless?

They can expect a really great and exciting season. It picks up 30 days from where we left off. Frank [played by William H. Macy] didn’t die in the lake, obviously. He’s not happy with the family so he goes on a hunt to find a new family: a new Fiona, a new Lip—it’s hilarious!

We ended last season with V and Kevin entering a polygamous relationship with their Russian bartender, Svetlana. What was it like filming this season with not one but two love interests?  

It’s a really interesting dynamic. I’ve been spoiled; I’ve only had one love interest these past six seasons. Steve Howie [who plays Kevin] and I have a wonderful connection. He has been my partner for six seasons. It’s definitely a different dynamic to bring someone else into our day-to-day filming. Honestly, at first, I didn’t know where the storyline was going and I was like, is this something Veronica would really let happen? Would she really fall in love with someone who is not Kev? She’s been on quite a journey during the show: not wanting to have kids, then wanting to have kids but then not being able to have them, then not really knowing how to take care of the kids and share Kevin’s love. You become very protective of the character and you feel like you know them better than anyone. 

How do you get into the mindset of V?

Quite honestly, we’ve been doing the show for so long we can basically look at the lines one time and know what we’re saying. So it’s not a huge preparation like, I have to get into the mindset of Veronica. I can be in the middle of this phone conversation and suddenly be like, what you doin’? So, it’s really easy at this point.

Congratulations on your new baby boy! You gave birth pretty close to production—and Veronica is infamous for her sensuality— how did you get your body ready for the show again? 

I was actually pregnant on the show last season, but you couldn’t really tell. Well… I hope you couldn’t tell! We went into production earlier than we usually do this season: six weeks after I had the baby. So I worked out to the day—and I do mean the day—I had my little boy. Right before I was due to give birth I went to the gym. And as soon as I could go back in to the gym, I did. Because we all know Veronica loves to show cleavage!

And what’s it like playing a character so infamous for showing skin?

I don’t think anyone would be like, you know what I want to do? I want to show my body on screen and I want people to take screenshots of it and share it all over the internet! That’s not something anybody wants. But does it bother me? Not really. I knew what I was signing up for. I’m on a show called Shameless! As long as it’s not gratuitous and it’s actually moving the story along, I’m okay with it.

Is the cast close after spending so much time together?

What’s great about us is we had a synergy from the very beginning that has continued to grow. Our kids were 9 and 10 when they started our show, now they’re 16 and 17. I’ve had two children while I’ve been on the show. Emmy is getting married! We’ve all been in each other’s lives. The stuff you see on Instagram with us at dinner—that’s who we are. We love each other. We are a family.

What do you like to do when you’re not filming? 

I’m a TV addict. I don’t really like to go out. I like to stay home, eat dessert, and watch television. My obsession over the summer was Bachelor of Paradise, obvi, and Big Brother. There’s nothing I don’t really watch! I love ratchet TV too, like Love & Hip HopBasketball Wives: LA, all the Housewives shows. And even if I wasn’t on Shameless I would watch it. Remember, we don’t see what the other is shooting. We hear it at the table read and that’s it. So when I’m watching Shameless I’m watching it as a fan and getting excited and tearing up as fan.

Photo: Maarten de Boer / Getty Images