Whether she's chaining her childhood kidnapper (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) up in her basement or supporting the unhinged South Side Chicago-based Gallagher clan alongside her loyal man, Kev (Steve Howey), Shanola Hampton is known for bringing star power to the small screen.
The Shameless and Found actor-producer continuously injects a warm presence into her characters, but Shanola's likability extends beyond her character work, as she was raised an activist.
"My family is a family of philanthropists. So it actually was something that was instilled in me," she exclusively told Distractify. "My dad is a minister, my grandfather was a minister — doing philanthropy is what life's purpose should be about."
Today, Shanola and her hubby, Daren Dukes, get their kids involved in charity work, making it a family affair.
The Feeding America Entertainment Council member spoke with Distractify about her ongoing dedication to the food insecurity nonprofit, bonding with her kids via giving back, and the significance of charity during the holiday season.
A Feeding America event saw Shanola Hampton and Connie Britton pass out Thanksgiving meals with their kids.
Getting in the holiday spirit, Shanola volunteered alongside fellow actor and mom Connie Britton (The White Lotus) at L.A.'s St. Francis Center in November 2023. Both stars brought their families along to give a helping hand.
"St. Francis does wonderful things right in the heart of L.A.," Shanola said before gushing about the Thanksgiving charity event.
"They gave a nice hot breakfast. I'm talking coffee — everything was there. [We] cleaned up after breakfast, got the meal prep for Thanksgiving dinner — it was Thanksgiving with all the fixings. That Turkey was so juicy."
There was a vibrant joy in Shanola's voice as she discussed her kids' involvement with Feeding America.
"My son was packaging boxes ... [meanwhile] my daughter was sweeping in between. We not only packaged hot, hot food, we then got big boxes and [packed] every produce [imaginable]," she continued.
When we asked Shanola about teaching her kids — Cai MyAnna Dukes and Daren O.C. Dukes — to give back, she highlighted both conversation and action.
"It is definitely not only important, but a must in our house to have the spirit of giving, and for [my kids] to see the ways other folks are living and to be part of the solution," she shared. She also wants her youngins to care about being part of the solution.
"Having those sorts of conversations, I think it not only bonds the family, but it really does something great for the world," she added.
Sweetly, Shanola and Connie's families bonded during the event, spawning an annual holiday tradition.
"Connie's son and my daughter, they just hit it off and they weren't singing songs and helping each other. It promotes this sort of teamwork, camaraderie for a purpose. ... It keeps a conversation in their generation," she told us with a smile. "Connie and her family, they are just such great human beings. So we've now vowed to meet [at the St. Francis Center] every year."
Shanola Hampton on her love for Feeding America: "It's boots on the ground doing the work."
Shanola attended her first Feeding America event between five and seven years ago, and was impressed by the level of hands-on involvement expected of her.
"It's not just doing events and raising money, you can actually see where the money is going," she told Distractify. "One thing that I will never be is a name on a piece of paper. I need to know what an organization is doing, and then how those funds are spent. And to also be a part of the volunteer process."
Additionally, Shanola was astounded by the U.S. hunger statistics.
"It's really gotten to a number that has been shocking. ... It's not just the unhoused, it's also people who have roofs over their heads," she explained.
According to Feeding America, 44 million people are plagued with hunger in the U.S.
"That's what Feeding America does, we bring healthy produce, great food to families, and also to the unhoused ... I'm so blessed to be a part of it."
Shanola believes giving back during the holiday season is especially important, as it can "build a foundation" for the rest of the year.
"During the holiday season, people are more in tune to want to give, right? ... So if we can start the foundation for those who have not been active ... and they can [understand] what it feels like to help give someone a hot meal, what it feels like to donate, put their boots on the ground and see it, maybe that feeling lasts longer than Christmas and Thanksgiving."