Shanola Hampton Star in Things Never Said

Shanola Hampton Star in Things Never Said
Interviewed and written by Tocarra Eldridge

I was given the opportunity to interview the talented and gifted actress Shanola Hampton. Hampton appeared on television shows such as "Reba", "Scrubs" and landed a recurring role on Showtime’s critically acclaimed drama “Shameless”. The actress recently starred in the film Things Never Said alongside Omari Hardwick and Tamala Jones. The film is about a love story centered on the trials and tribulations of life, where Kal (Hampton) is wounded by a miscarriage and goes through an abusive relationship. As a poet she desperately tries to find a voice while going through obstacles in her life. The film won Best Screenplay at the 17th Annual American Black Film Festival.

Here is what Shanola Hampton shared with the readers about her role in Things Never Said, as well as empowers women as she gives advice to aspiring actresses.

Tocarra Eldridge: You star in Things Never Said. Can you start off by telling us a little bit about this remarkable film?
Shanola Hampton: It’s a story about a young girl who has lost herself throughout life and is in a very toxic and abusive relationship. She really lost her voice and her place in the world, going through many struggles like many have. Through the film you get to go on her journey with her as she regains her power and finds her voice. That’s just an outline of it. There’s also a nice little love triangle in there, as well as drama. And when she finds her voice, boy does she ever find it!

Tocarra: Being that this film is based on love and also the trials and tribulations of life, what lessons learned do you expect the audience to receive after viewing this film?
Shanola: I have no expectations. Many of us do engage in repeated patterns that are not healthy - are through life without direction and getting lost - getting complacent or comfortable…not necessarily being happy and living out our destiny. I would hope by the end of the film, those who have lost their voices, those who have suffered the unimaginable, find a way to find a voice or get back to the point where you can find your voice.

Tocarra: Speaking of domestic abuse, there are some very emotional scenes regarding that [abuse], how were you able to identify yourself with this character and demonstrate those emotions?
Shanola: I have never been a victim of domestic abuse. It was hard for me to understand how people stay in the situation or how they allow it to happen. It’s really about getting to the mental stage concerning what people have gone through who have been domestically abused. I was able to tap into that emotion from an empathetic point.

Tocarra: While playing the role of a spoken word artist, did you encounter any different challenges?
Shanola: I think that was the hardest thing for me. I’m not a poetess; I don’t do spoken word. I appreciate it very much! I think people have an idea of what spoken word is, but it’s not that, it has so many different voices and characters that people bring. So what I decided I was going to do was stop looking at is as being spoken word and instead just say what the words are with the emotion.

Tocarra: How does your role in “Things Never Said” differ from other roles that you’ve previously played, such as in Shameless or Miami Medical?
Shanola: It’s a huge contract, which was one of the things that attracted me to the film. It is very easy in this business to get pigeon housed into one category, and that’s something that I don’t want to do. I’ve made a point to educate and continue training and to get undergrad and master’s degrees so I can play a range of characters. Veronica in “Shameless” was very fiery and outgoing. She was loyal and violent, more energetic, whereas, Kal is very earthy, silent and grounded. Their struggle was very different. Whereas Kal was domestically abused, Veronica would never take that; she would take a trash can and hit somebody before she would get hit. Overall, it was very different and fun to play the two different roles. Of course I’ve had challenges before, but nothing quite as challenging was the emotionally unveiling that I had to do for Kal and having that responsibility on your shoulders.

Tocarra: Speaking of challenges, what have been some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced while in the acting business thus far in your career?
Shanola: I think the biggest challenges have to do with rejection. There is only you in that room, so you can’t say its someone else’s fault when they say No! You have to take responsibility if they do not like you and have a very thick skin where you feel good enough no matter what. I think that’s been my biggest adjustment. My biggest challenge has been rejection, but also to persevere. After all of the rejections and heartaches, I had to push through and that is challenging.

Tocarra: What is some advice that you would give to aspiring actresses desiring to get into this field of work?
Shanola: My first bit of advice would be to make sure you love it. Make sure you have an understanding of what fame is and who people are. Most importantly know what fame is, because that’s not the reality of this business. Like I said earlier, the amount of rejection you have to deal with – when I say have to, you have to on pretty much every level. Make sure that you’re doing it for the right reason. Second, I would say train, train, train, train, train! You never know too much about how to capture characters and things to look for.  You have to nurture and be like a sponge and soak everything in. The things that don’t work for you, you just wring them out. Third, I would say, when it stops being fun, stop doing it because life is too short!

Tocarra: What is your favorite inspirational quote that you live by?
Shanola: It’s actually a bible verse that my mother used to say who has passed away. But even as she was suffering she would say ‘I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me’. I think that keeps me going. Even when it gets hard or when life gets hard in general, it’s never too much because I can do all things because I have the strength from above. That’s the biggest one that influences my life. I like to live a happy life! And my dad always says ‘if it’s not fun you don’t have to do it’! (laughs) It takes the pressure off; it really does. (laughs)
 

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