An Interview with Emma Kenney

Written by | B-Roll

We had the chance to talk to actress Emma Kenney(Shameless, Roseanne) about work ethic, inspiring others and the dedication it takes to be an actor.

ReelGuru: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! Can you talk about the work ethic involved in acting?

Emma Kenney: I think having a good work ethic means keeping your goals straight and your dreams in mind. I like to watch movies with actors and directors the inspire me. And kinda keep your eye on the prize as cliche as that is, you know, you’re not going to go anywhere if all you do is party and don’t take your craft seriously. A lot of work goes into acting. Yes, it is a spontaneous thing, but in order to be spontaneous you need to know the tricks of the trade and need to understand things about it and characters and you need to know a lot about yourself, I think. And I’m only seventeen(at the time of this interview), I don’t know everything about myself.
That’s also something fun about character, learning your character and studying your character and finding out who your character is while shooting.

ReelGuru: What has acting taught you about yourself?

EK: It gets me in touch with my emotions for sure. You have to be able to tune into it. Sometimes I’ll put my emotions in a bank. So if I’m thinking about something that upsets me, I’ll be like ‘Stop. No, save it!’ save it for a scene.
And music playlists help me to get in touch with emotions. Music helps a lot with my work.

RG: What do you find rewarding as an actress?

EK: I like when people come up to me and compliment, not my work, but that they can relate to the work. I take the show (Shameless) very seriously. I really enjoy doing it and I take my job seriously. Our show is not like a comedy, it’s registered by the Academy as a comedy but I don’t consider it to be because I don’t like it when people think we’re making fun of those kinds of situations, because the show is very honest. I consider it to be more of a dramedy.

RG: You mentioned how people have come up to you, do you have any that come to mind?

Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher in Shameless (Season 7, episode 4) – Photo: Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

EK: There’s honestly been a lot, I’ve really met some cool people over the years. I really love it when people say they relate to Debbie, or they’re a young teen mom or that their sister is or that they have a family like the Gallaghers, their dad’s an alcoholic. That’s sad that their dad’s an alcoholic and that they can relate to the sadder storylines, but it makes me feel like we’re doing the right thing and putting a positive impact out there and that’s so important to me.

RG: Do you remember when you got your Taft-Hartley?

EK: Not really. I remember when my SAG-AFTRA card came in the mail. I asked my mom if I need to carry it around with me. (laughs)

RG: What advice would you give to young actors who want to follow in your footsteps?

EK: If you want to be an actor or an actress, work hard and watch a lot of films and get involved as best as you can. Expresses those emotions. It’s good to write scripts. Write your own scripts, write your own work, write work for your friends, film things, shoot short films. Watch old films, that is something that really inspires you. If you watch old Hollywood classic movies, how do you not want to be an old Hollywood starlet who makes an impact on people? That’s so sick. You have to inspire yourself by doing those kinds of things.

RG: Do you have any final words of advice to actors?

EK: Stay positive and not to beat yourself up when you don’t book a job. You’re not going to book every job, it’s a fact. You’ll go through phases where really successful and you’re working a lot and you’re feeling great about it and times when you’re not. It just depends. Hollywood is always changing. It’s kinda a scary thing because acting is very much a freelance business. I’m a control freak who likes stability, so maybe I shouldn’t be an actor but I am! (laughs)


You can watch Emma as Harris in Roseanne on ABC.

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Last modified: April 20, 2018

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