Emma Kenney Talks Shameless And The Hunger Games – Interview

Emma Kenney is one of the most talented up and coming young stars today. You make recognize her from the hit show, “Shameless.” BSCkids recently got the chance to sit down with the Emma where she talked about staring on the show, working with other actors and what movie she is most excited to see this year!

Emma Kenney is best known for her role as Debbie Gallagher on Showtime’s popular show “Shameless”. She also has appeared on the hit show “Boardwalk Empire”. She is incredibly talented and is continuing to make a name for herself as a sought after young actress in the industry. 

BSCkids: Emma Kenney

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be an actress?

When I was younger, I just did improv acting classes. But I didn’t actually do it to be an actress; I just did it for fun. But for one of my acting classes, there was a showcase, and a manager was talking to my mom and said they wanted to represent me! So my mom asked me if I really wanted to follow through to act, I said yes, and I am so happy I did!

Who is your favorite actor right now?

I have a bunch but right now my favorite actor is probably Rachel McAdams! I saw her in “Mean Girls”(one of my all time favorite movies) and thought she was hilarious!! Then I saw her in “The Notebook” and totally saw her in a new perspective. Not as just that funny girl, but as a really good actress. I really want to see her in “The Vow” too!

You work with some high profile actors such as Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy, what is the best thing you have learned from them?

You know, I learn so much from them! I have a tendency to talk really fast.  Bill will tell me to slow down!  I also learn just from watching their acting, their facial reactions and how they connect.

I had this scene for this new episode coming out, where I had to cry. And I normally can connect immediately and get the tears flowing, but for some reason I couldn’t! So Steve Howey (Kev) pulled me aside and told me that sometimes when people are crying in public, they may feel uncomfortable about it, so may smile or laugh. So I tried that for the next take. Immediately after that take our director came up to me and said, “That was your best take yet!”

How did you get the part as Debbie on “Shameless”?

I got the audition for Debbie in November of 2009. My sides were from the episode where Debbie kidnaps a baby, and where Frank goes to Canada in season one. So a few weeks later, we got the call that I got a call back, and that our producer John Wells was flying out to NY for it. So I met with him! Then about 1 week later we got the call that they were going to fly me out to LA for the mix and match! So we went out, then a few days after the mix and match they said that I had the Screen Test (the last audition) with all Showtime’s executives, all the producers, directors, writers, casting directors, everyone! And I was soo nervous! So then that night, we found out that I got the part! I was so excited! It was my first job, other then commercials and student films!

What has been your favorite episode of “Shameless” to shoot?

Probably Debbie’s birthday party! Because we had tons of kids on set, which was a lot of fun. Also because I got to play Debbie with a new more up-beat, happy feeling, well just for the birthday party itself. And got to show her as more of just a kid, not a stressed out working kid.

What is the funniest thing that happened while shooting the show?

During the episode in season one when Frank goes to Canada, and Ethan Cutkosky (Carl) and I are looking through the caskets to see if Frank is asleep in one of them, John Wells (the director of that episode) came up with a funny idea! So he told Ethan and I that we could take 5, so we did. Then they called us back in and said that they got the scene, and they just need one more shot for safety. So Ethan and I do the regular routine, check each casket. Then when we get to the last casket and open it up, Cameron Monanghan (Ian) jumps up from inside of it and starts screaming!! I screamed sooo loud!!! It was hilarious! They have us a DVD copy and Ethan’s and my facial expressions were priceless!

Do you go to school full time or homeschool while acting?

When I’m home in New Jersey I go to regular public school, but when I’m filming in LA, I have a tutor on set. She teaches me the same thing I would be learning back in New Jersey.

Which do you like working on more, Boardwalk Empire or Shameless?

I have so much fun on both sets But since I’m a series regular on Shameless, probably Shameless. 

Are there any other celebs that you are dying to meet?

I would love to meet George Clooney, just so I could ask him questions on everything he has done over the years. I saw him on inside the Actor’s Studio. It was really interesting. 

Are there any movies coming out that you are looking forward to seeing?

The Hunger Games! I read all the books and am so excited for it to come out in March! I’m going to go see it with a bunch of my friends who also read the books!

About Sarah

Sarah is journalist and artist who lives in the city. She loves movies and television. She reads early and often. Leader of Optionated.com

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