INTERVIEW: Get to Know Emma Kenney as She Talks Showtime’s ‘Shameless’, ABC’s ‘The Conners,’ Directing, Self-Love, and More
Emma Kenney owns our TV screens and our hearts as Debbie Gallagher on Showtime’s hit dramedy Shameless starring opposite William H. Macy, Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher, Steve Howey, Shanola Hampton, and Jeremy Allen White. She also plays Harris Conner-Healy on ABC’s The Conners, a spin-off of the 1990s hit show, Roseanne. Did you know that Kenney won the role of Debbie Gallagher when she was only twelve-years-old? As her character Debbie grew up and became more comfortable in her own skin, so did Emma herself, and we love that.
Shameless will be airing all-new episodes of every Sunday on Showtime until the series finale. The Conners airs new episodes Wednesdays at 9 PM ET on ABC.
Read our exclusive interview with Emma Kenney below to find out all about the final season of Shameless, her character’s development over the years, what drew her to The Conners, and the best piece of advice she’s ever received. We also love her definition of self-love. Read on to find out more from this amazing talent who will know we’ll see more of soon.
GLITTER: After 11 seasons, Shameless is, unfortunately, coming to an end. What does the show mean to you?
EMMA: The show means so much to me. It’s been the most consistent thing in my life for over half of it, and it’s definitely bittersweet to see it come to an end. But I’m so excited for this next chapter of all of our lives, and I know we will all be in each other’s lives indefinitely.
GLITTER: What has it been like growing up on the series?
EMMA: Growing up on TV the way I did is something I never expected. Nobody knew we would go on and on and on for over a decade! I definitely didn’t think that when I was so young and booked the job. It’s a special feeling to have a lot of people be able to connect and relate to you, even though I don’t know them personally.
GLITTER: How would you describe Debbie’s development over the seasons?
EMMA: Just like everyone, Debbie went through many, many phases growing up. She started off as a kind of wholesome girl with such hope and kind of got dark for a period of time and then found a light and purpose again. She grew through her sexuality too, which I think is beautiful and really helped Debbie become more comfortable in her own skin.
GLITTER: The show has so much fan support; has a fan ever said anything that stuck with you?
EMMA: Whenever anyone tells me that Debbie reminds them of their little sister or themselves kind of vibe. That always is a really warm feeling.
GLITTER: What message do you want to give the fans that have been watching the show since the beginning?
EMMA: That not being perfect is okay, and to have fun while embracing that!
GLITTER: What has been your favorite part of playing Debbie?
EMMA: Growing with her. Having so many different phases and learning a lot of life skills throughout playing her.
GLITTER: How would you describe the final season as a whole?
EMMA: The beginning of the end. It might be the end of us watching the Gallaghers, but it certainly isn’t the end for them.
GLITTER: If it was completely up to you, what would be your perfect ending for Debbie?
EMMA: I am so protective over Debbie and kind of always have been, so I just want her to find a person that can protect Debbie’s heart while allowing her to also protect, which is kind of her natural instinct, to begin with.
GLITTER: What do you love most about the Gallagher family?
EMMA: Their loyalty, the chaos, the constructive criticism, their quick wits, and ability to turn any situation around.
GLITTER: What are you going to miss most about the cast and show?
EMMA: The daily interaction, our constant laughter, and ability to give and receive honest advice to and from each other. It’s a real family dynamic, as cliche as it sounds. I mean, after eleven consistent years in our most pivotal years of life, how could we not be?
GLITTER: How would you describe Shameless as a whole?
EMMA: I would say if you haven’t watched Shameless, to watch it. Then you will get it.
GLITTER: What has filming been like for you with all of the necessary COVID-19 safety precautions?
EMMA: It really isn’t that different or challenging because we all are on the same page of keeping each other safe and producing good quality work. We get COVID tested daily, sometimes even more than once. The crew is constantly in a mask and PPE gear, while the actors are masked until we go on camera.
GLITTER: You play Harris Conner-Healy on ABC’s hit comedy The Conners. What attracted you to the role?
EMMA: The amazing cast and team behind it and the new opportunity to shoot in a way I hadn’t before by doing a multi-camera sitcom.
GLITTER: Before filming, what was a day in quarantine like for you?
EMMA: I have 4 rescue dogs, so I’m constantly on dog mom duty, which I thrive from. So a lot of dog adventures, road trips, I started cooking, baking bread like so many of us, and tons of random crafts and FaceTime with my friends.
GLITTER: On top of acting, you’ve also directed. What made you want to start directing, and are there any other aspects of the entertainment industry you want to do more of?
EMMA: I definitely want to further pursue directing. I haven’t in a long time since pre-Shameless! I was young. But my biggest passion is photography, and that’s something I am really enjoying lately. I strictly shoot on film.
GLITTER: You also have a film Instagram account. What started that passion?
EMMA: My film Instagram account handle is @emmaroseseye. My inspiration is people and capturing their life and essence.
GLITTER: Is there a genre that you haven’t done yet but want to?
EMMA: Any and all. I have always wanted to do an action movie, preferably an “end of the world” one. Ha.
GLITTER: Best piece of acting advice you’ve ever received?
EMMA: Not to judge yourself.
GLITTER: Glitter has a #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
EMMA: Self-love, to me, kind of goes hand in hand with the best acting advice I have received, which is to not judge yourself or take yourself too seriously!