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Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire is letting her walls down in a new interview on the podcast 4D with Demi Lovato.
The actress spoke candidly about her journey of coming out as pansexual — thanks to a little help from co-star Dan Levy.
Hampshire recalled a specific scene where Levy's character, David, explains to her character Stevie about his sexuality using a metaphor involving wine.
"He says, ultimately he likes the wine, not the label, and that he's pansexual. I had never heard the word pansexual before," she said. "I've always considered myself super knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ stuff just because everybody in my life, my friends, are all mostly LGBTQ+ people, but I didn’t know this.
"Cut to about five years later," she explained. "I was dating someone and I saw on these message boards people being like, 'Is Stevie a lesbian?' 'Is Emily gay?' 'Who's Emily?' ... I said to Dan, I was like, 'This is so weird. What am I?' Because I truly just fell in love with a person and where they were on the gender spectrum did not matter to me. And since then it really doesn’t matter to me. I have to like the person. I'm really attracted to a person's vibe. And so he was like, 'You're pansexual. Don't you watch our show?'"
Hampshire also credited Lovato with pushing her into "thinking a little broader" when it comes to how she talks about identity.
"I believe in visibility. I know how important it is," she said. "On the other hand, my utopian world is like, 'You don't have to identify yourself as anything.' I don’t have to say I’m pansexual, bisexual, anything. I get why we have to now. But also with pronouns, my utopian world would be like, ‘We’re just human.'"
Hampshire also opened up about overcoming an eating disorder, which required her to check into a treatment center.
A month before filming the first season of Schitt's Creek, Hampshire said she was admitted to a treatment center for an eating disorder, which helped her to pinpoint its root causes.
"I remember viscerally my first diet," Hampshire said. "I tore it out of a magazine. It was two hardboiled eggs, half a cup of oatmeal and black coffee. I remember that first diet. In retrospect, I can see how much that made me feel like I was in control of my life... I do think back to then, like, what if I never did that diet?"
Though dieting began as a means to control her food intake, it grew into an obsession and she soon embarked on more dangerous attempts at weight control including diet pills, anorexia and bulimia.
“I started to go on these diet pills," Hampshire explained. "I'd gotten my first TV show in Canada [Made in Canada] and I did the first season. I was normal. Came back for the second season and I had lost a significant amount of weight and everybody said I looked great. Wardrobe was like, 'Oh we can have these clothes on you, and these clothes.'
"But by the end of the season, they weren't saying I looked so great," she explained. "I couldn't think anymore. I couldn't remember anything. I was crying all the time and then I got really depressed because my brain wasn’t being fed at all. I was also white-knuckling ... I never thought of myself as anorexic."
The stress became too much for Hampshire, who fell into a bout of depression and "put on a significant amount of weight" before returning to Made in Canada for Season 3 only to be the butt of the joke.
"I played an actress on that series and they wrote [the weight gain] into the show," she said. "My character’s name was Siobhan and they [wrote], 'We can't keep Siobhan away from the craft [services] table' and there were all these things of me under the craft services table stuffing my face, doing all this stuff. I was so embarrassed."
Still, while the experience could have been traumatic, the actress saw a silver lining.
"It did make me learn comedy in a really hard lesson way," she said. “At the time I was the bigger girl and in that way, I needed to be funny. That’s what was going through my head. It’s not a healthy thing to think about it, but it pushed me in that direction. And in that, I got more character parts. I was no longer the girlfriend — and I was always [cast as] the girlfriend, the pretty girl. I can see in retrospect, that I might have purposely ruined my looks because I didn't like that always being a focus."
Hampshire's "entire life changed" after coming out of treatment.
"I can't say that it cured my eating disorder but it made me find a 'self,' or even know that I had a self in me," she said. "I learned who I was by going to auditions and looking in the other person and seeing, ‘What do you want me to be?' And that was very much what I would do even with guys, relationships."
Hampshire credits people like Lovato and Jane Fonda, whom she admires for speaking out about her own struggles with eating disorders, for helping her to this day.
"Quite honestly, my coming out and [talking about my eating disorder] are closely related in that you and Jane Fonda, made it human to me," she told Lovato.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.