She’s been in films and television since the late 1990s, but queer Canadian actress Emily Hampshire broke big in the United States a few years ago with her dual roles on two fascinating TV series. As Jennifer Goines on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys (now on Hulu), she reinvented the role Brad Pitt made famous in the film. Meanwhile, the CBC TV series Schitt’s Creek (which airs on Pop TV and Netflix in the U.S.) became a slow-burn breakout hit, in no small part to Hampshire’s role as the acerbic, intelligent, hotel manager Stevie Budd. Playing a once-reluctant bestie to Dan Levy’s pansexual character, David, Hampshire has garnered a huge fan base among straight and LGBTQ audiences alike.
With season five of Schitt’s Creek delighting audiences now, the workaholic actress is making the most of her personal life too. She and transgender musician Teddy Geiger got engaged late last year, and Hampshire reflects with us on the moment she knew it was true love.
The Advocate: I love Stevie’s wit and sarcasm. How close is it to yours?
Emily Hampshire: We definitely share an extra dry sense of humor. I also like to think that Stevie’s initial attraction to David was that he “got it” because, in my own life, there’s few things I hate more than when my sarcasm is taken seriously and I’m forced to explain that I was joking.
It’s fantastic two queer actors play the two most compelling characters on Schitt’s Creek. Is it intimidating working with comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara?
You would think so, but they are so deeply Canadian in their overly generous and self-deprecating ways that they don’t allow you to be intimidated by them.
Did you envision the show becoming as popular as it is?
I did not. I mean, that’s always the hope, that people will like your work, but I don’t think any of us could have imagined the show — beyond being popular — would actually affect people’s lives in the way it has. From the messages we get — like a mother saying she no longer worries that her gay son won’t find love because of David and Patrick’s relationship, teenagers saying they watch the show with their parents and it helped them be able to come out, etc. — that’s been truly mind blowing and so rewarding for all of us. I don’t think any of us have been part of something that feels this purely good. And you feel it at our live shows. The energy that comes at us from the audience at those shows is the greatest ecstasy hug of all time and space. The fans are all so grateful for the kind, inclusive, never-judgmental heart at the center of the show, which makes them give that energy back to you.
What’s the storyline you’d love to see for Stevie that you haven’t yet?
Honestly, my ultimate dream storyline happens this season, season five. It’s coming and when it does, you’ll understand why I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Stevie was the last to find love on the series. Is there a way for her to have love and still be funny and sarcastic?
Um, I hope so, otherwise I’m fucked. Because I recently found love and one of the things she claims to love about me is that I’m funny. And again, the thing that Stevie finds attractive about Emir is his sense of humor and his appreciation of her’s, so I don’t think love and humor are mutually exclusive.
Since you’ve been married once already, what marriage advice are you able to give yourself that would have helped the first time?
Go to couple’s therapy before there is a problem.
When did you know you were in love with Teddy?
In all honesty — wait for it, it’s super cheesy — but it’s the truth: It was love at first sight for me. The minute I saw her on our first date it was as if time stopped, the camera pushed in on her face, and the music swelled with a chorus of angels. It totally fucked me up because I was a nervous wreck after that.
I heard you were the one who proposed. Did you plan it out or was it spontaneous?
Oh I definitely planned it. And not without a significant amount of help from [co-star] Dan Levy. Those proposal planning times were very Stevie- and David-like. And that’s all I’ll say about that [she smiles].
Is “happy wife equals happy life” still apt in a marriage between two women?
I think doubly so. I definitely wouldn’t want an unhappy wife, that’s for sure.
Do you see marriage in Stevie’s future?
That’s so interesting, I’ve actually never thought of that, which leads me to think, no. I just can’t picture it. But you never know. I couldn’t picture myself ever getting married again. She’d just have to meet the right person, I guess.
Are you looking for new projects or does Schitt’s Creek keep you too busy?
I’m always looking for new projects. I’m a bit of a workaholic. Last season I was shooting Schitt’s Creek during the day and 12 Monkeys at night and sleeping in the transport vans in between. But now that 12 Monkeys is over, I’m definitely looking for a new project to fill that void. But it’s actually harder now that I’ve been spoiled with such great roles and projects. Now it has to be something as good or better than Schitt’s and Monkeys, and I feel like that might be an impossible task. But, there’s nothing I love more than working.