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Emily Hampshire on how Schitt’s Creek helped her come out as pansexual

“I had to ask Dan what pansexuality was, I didn’t know at all. Cut to five years later, definitely pan!”

Although her fan-favourite role as sarcastic, deadpan motel manager Stevie Budd on Schitt’s Creek is coming to an end next month, Emily Hampshire doesn’t feel depressed – LIKE THE REST OF US – she feels excited to have been part of history.

Since its 2015 debut, the Canadian series has been hailed as one of the greatest comedies on television thanks to the ensemble cast and numerous viral moments, such as the Grammy-winning dance-pop anthem A Little Bit Alexis and Moira’s future Oscar slash Razzie nominated performance in The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening.

More importantly, the show has received widespread acclaim for its portrayal of pansexual character David, played by creator Dan Levy, as well as for how his sexuality is simply accepted and there are no expressions of homophobia in the storyline.

“From the beginning Dan was like, ‘There will be no homophobia on Schitt’s Creek, it just doesn’t exist there,’” says Emily, who then reveals that she discovered her own pansexuality through the iconic wine scene from the first season.

“I looked at Dan, and I was like ‘What am I?’ I like a person, and I genuinely don’t care what the equipment is as long as we’re happy,” she admits. “And he was like ‘Do you watch the show? You’re pan!’ Cut to five years later, definitely pan!”

We caught up with Emily to discuss the sixth and final season of Schitt’s Creek, how the series is leading the way with authentic LGBTQ representation and how we can all be better allies to the trans and gender non-conforming community.

I’ll start off with the most important question: what can you tell me about The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening?
[Laughs] Have you seen the trailer?

I died.
I actually think it is the funniest thing we’ve done on the show, and it’s not even on the show. I love a committed joke… and they made a trailer. I can’t get over it, I watched it a million times.

I can’t decide what my favourite Schitt’s Creek moment is – The Crows Have Eyes 3 or A Little Bit of Alexis.
What I love about the show is iconic moments like that, like A Little Bit Alexis, and the moments that stand alone outside of the show too. I really want Annie [Murphy] to do a music video for that, how great would that be?

It was shafted at the Grammy Awards.
Oh yeah, for real. And Annie wrote that herself with her husband and that makes it even cooler.

I love that. It was one of my most played songs on Spotify last year.
I love it. And on Spotify, Noah’s [Reid] song, his music tour is selling out like crazy, and Dan [Levy] gave us all opportunities for music. But Noah was the one who was an actual singer before. But it was so cool to get to do something like that on a show, and get to create it yourself. He let all of us, like for Annie, she’d be like, ‘Oh, can I try singing it?’ and Noah wanted to do the arrangement and he let me do my own kind of thing, although I didn’t write a song. But we all know how lucky we are to get that opportunity.

Emily wears dress by Jonathan Simkhai, blazer and purse both by Amiri

So, Schitt’s Creek is ending at the height of its success. Why do you think the sixth season is the right time to bow out?
It was Dan’s decision and now that I know how it ends, I think we all agree that it was the right decision. It really does end respecting the characters so much, and respecting the audience. Dan always planned to end it the way that it does, and this was the story he wanted to tell. The show only became popular in its last season, but what’s great is that usually you don’t get to know when you’re ending a show, you just get cancelled. And so to have the opportunity to go out the right way… When we found out we were ending, all of us were like, ‘Just one more season and we’ll get paid!’ and we made Canadian dollars. That’s a privilege. We all genuinely like each other a lot and getting to do the tour has been the greatest thing, because I think we all would have been severely depressed to just end it and not be together as a group anymore. So getting to do that has been a good weaning off of our co-dependent relationship. I, and I think everyone, respects the decision, because it’s a hard one, especially when it’s becoming popular. Everyone was offering Dan all kinds of amazing things to keep doing it, and I think it speaks to how much he cares about the characters and audience and wants to do right by them.

How sad was it saying goodbye to Dan, Catherine [O’Hara], Eugene [Levy], Annie and the rest of the cast?
It was weird, and a testament again to how great these characters are. We were so sad when… oh, I almost told you the ending! I need to make sure I don’t. I think what was the most heartbreaking thing was the relationships. When you end a show, there’s an ending to relationships and storylines, and those require an in-the-world ending, and that was heartbreaking. And I had to say before we all had to shoot one scene, where everyone was crying, and I said, ‘I don’t get emotional on the ending of a show’ and then two seconds later I was fucking bawling. All of us were in costumes and faces… It was definitely sad, but I think sad in that way the audience will be when they see how the show winds down, and the heart and the humour, and it’s just real and your heart is going to swell and break, while laughing.

Schitt’s Creek has been praised for how it’s handled sexuality, especially David’s pansexuality and his relationship with Patrick. What is it about the show that has managed to portray sexuality so perfectly?
This blows my mind. From the beginning Dan was like, ‘There will be no homophobia on Schitt’s Creek, it just doesn’t exist there,’ which I thought was odd because if I was writing on how to be inclusive, you’d have someone being bullied and then you’d learn the lesson. But it’s leading by example, it doesn’t exist here and it works really good, nobody misses it. And I think what makes the show so popular, is that especially now in America, I think everybody would want to live in Schitt’s Creek. It doesn’t sacrifice its heart. We get letters all the time from parents who say, ‘I was worried my son would never find love, and to see David and Patrick has helped.’ It’s helped people come to terms with their sexuality, kids have come out after watching the show. The show stems from my agent’s eight-year-old kid to grandparents, so it’s bringing the conversation in. I’ve been in this industry for a very long time, and I thought I was so open-minded. When we did that wine scene I had to ask Dan what pansexuality was, I didn’t know at all. Cut to five years later, definitely pan! I looked at Dan, and I was like ‘What am I?’ I like a person, and I genuinely don’t care what the equipment is as long as we’re happy. And he was like, ‘Do you watch the show? You’re pan!’ I was reading a message board, because I like punishing myself, and this was after I publicly got engaged to a trans woman. Somebody wrote, ‘Stevie is gay? I didn’t know Stevie was gay,’ and then the next person said, ‘No, I think she’s just into the wine not the label.’ I thought it was so cool that somebody was referencing the show. I have to be honest, when I go shopping for wine, I do pick by the label, because I don’t know wine.

Last year you wrote on Instagram about how significant that scene was for you. How important is it for the world to become more aware of all these different terms on how we identify?
I personally think there’s nothing more important. If you realise that inclusivity, then you realise all inclusivity. In my relationships, I suddenly find myself having a lot of trans friends, a lot of non-binary friends, and I believe now that it is cis people’s obligation to make that visible and normalise it. When I had to tell my dad, he was not in to it, and that’s because my dad lives in a very small town… even though his daughter is on a show that’s one of the most lauded LGBT shows ever, he’s not comfortable with that. Now, imagine a kid trying to tell their parents, and not getting any support in being different. My dream would be that gender is a spectrum and nobody feels that the parts matter. It bothers me when someone thinks a person is a woman because they’ve had bottom surgery, I don’t think that matters, I don’t think that makes you a woman. But I don’t think being a cis woman, or being in a cis relationship should be the goal, the goal should be being who you are. And I think that’s why I care so much about trans and non-binary issues, because I see my friends go through so much just to be authentically who they are, publicly they go through stages where they don’t feel like they look good or how they want to be, and they just want to be authentic. If they can do that, I can fucking say to someone, ‘No, don’t do that.’ Authenticity is what I respect, the most attractive people are those who are authentic to themselves.

Emily wears maxi shirt by Amiri, blazer by Ralph Lauren, top by Cos and earrings by Lecilel Design

It comes down to a lack of mainstream representation. Do you feel like there’s enough pansexual and fluid characters on television, or do we have a long way to go?
No, I don’t think there’s enough representation of the whole spectrum, and the world is changing. If you watch the new The L Word, Leo Sheng is a trans man on the show, and they don’t talk about it, they don’t make it about that, and I love it so much. I’m creating a show with a co-creator of mine who’s trans, and we want to make this a character who’ll have relationships, she’ll talk about having babies and going to get her sperm, and it brings that vocabulary in the world and it becomes normal. I didn’t know any trans people until I met Teddy [Geiger], and something like learning that it’s her sperm… people thought it was weird. At first it was difficult for me to switch it in my brain, but then it becomes normal. And so, I really think that’s the important thing, visibility on television. On my Instagram, my picture is my pronouns – she/her. I’m a cis woman, and that should be normal, that people put what their pronouns are so that it’s normal for other people. I think that visibility is everything.

You answered my next question. You don’t see many cisgender people, especially high-profile stars, like you, putting their pronouns on social media platforms. Do you think we should normalise this?
Yes, the woman who changed that was the trans writer, my co-writer. We have begun these little Instagram Live’s asking questions about gender and we do those together so you get the perspective of a cis woman and a trans woman. I learned things, like talking about someone in the past, you talk about them in the current gender that they are, and I didn’t know that. There needs to be some education, as you’re not going to just know that, and that’s okay. I think what’s great is that people who want to be allies want to learn that, and to be kind and human and respectful. The reason I put my pronouns on my social media was because of this tweet that someone put out to all trans women and it said, ‘If you could have one day without cis people, what would you do?’ and almost everyone said, ‘Wear a bathing suit.’ It fucking broke my heart, because what a non-dream dream to have. To wear a bathing suit… Everyone has body conscious issues to begin with, but to be worried about other people seeing scars from your top surgery… I saw that and it upset me. I then read about people were asking how to be a better ally, and one of the things was to put your pronouns on your profile, even if you’re not trans or non-binary. Just put your pronouns up. Trans people don’t need to tell other trans people in the world to be inclusive. Cis people aren’t being inclusive. Hate is not non-inclusive, it’s not coming from other trans people, it’s coming from cis people, so cis people need to show that it’s normal.

Final question: what have you personally learned from Stevie over the last six years?
Honestly, not much. I didn’t know Stevie was going to do what she did in the show, I really thought I was going to be the girl behind the desk, the sarcastic whatever girl, who tells jokes and such. I didn’t know she was going to grow this much, and I feel like Stevie is the character who grows like how normal people grow, but I feel like Stevie started off as this closed-off thing, and you’re peeling back the layers and realising there’s a real girl inside. I feel like the biggest thing I’ve learned from her, and I admire from her, is she’s what being a good friend is. It really kills me when David tells her that he’s getting married and and he doesn’t include her in that part of his life, and she used to be everything. She’ll always sacrifice herself for David, because that’s who she is, she is self-sacrificing. I think that’s what she’s learning now this season. For others it’s like, ‘Maybe this time I’ll find a man and he’ll love me,’ but for Stevie it’s more like, ‘Maybe this time I’ll be the person all these people around me think I can be.’ I think that’s been her journey, and I think through this I’ve learned how to be a better friend. 

The sixth and final season of Schitt’s Creek airs every Tuesday on Pop TV.

Photography Anthony Giovanni and Edwin J. Ortega
Styling Edwin J. Ortega
Makeup Elie Maalouf
Hair Diane Dusting
Dress on cover Vassallo Atelier
Purse on cover Behno
Earrings on cover Leciel Design

The post Emily Hampshire on how Schitt’s Creek helped her come out as pansexual appeared first on Gay Times.

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Author: Sam Damshenas

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