With one of its main characters, David Rose (played by Dan Levy), identifying as pansexual, the TV show Schitt’s Creek has been celebrated for its LGBTQ+ representation. Turns out, that representation didn’t just have an impact on audiences. Emily Hampshire—who played David’s friend Stevie Budd on the show—recently explained on a podcast how the pansexual representation on the show helped her realize that she herself identifies as pansexual.
The 40-year-old actress talked about this revelation on September 1 when she appeared as a guest on an episode of Demi Lovato’s podcast, 4D with Demi Lovato. “So we did this scene in Schitt’s Creek—I think it’s kind of well-known now—it’s the wine scene where David, Dan Levy’s character, explains to Stevie his sexuality through wine,” Hampshire told Lovato. “And he says, ultimately, he likes the wine, not the label, and that he’s pansexual.”
The term “pansexual” was actually new to Hampshire at the time. “I know everyone else got the wine metaphor, but when I was doing the scene, I had a bit of trouble because, well, there’s the third wine,” she explained. The fact that she had never heard about the identity before shooting the scene was “weird” to her, especially because she says she always considered herself “super knowledgeable” about LGBTQ+ topics. If the term is new to you, too (or for a quick refresher), being pansexual means that you may experience sexual or romantic attraction to others regardless of their gender identity—in fact, “pan” is the Greek word for “all.”
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About five years after doing that scene, Hampshire saw messages from fans asking if her character Stevie was lesbian, as well as if she identified as a lesbian in real life. She explained that at the time, she turned to Schitt’s Creek co-star Dan Levy for advice, telling him, “This is so weird. What am I?”
“Because I truly just fell in love with a person, and where they fell 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,” she told Lovato. “So he was like, ‘You’re pansexual, don’t you watch our show?'”
Pansexuality is not shown or talked about as much as other sexualities. That’s why representation in media is important, Hampshire says. “So it did make me really start to—I think like Schitt’s Creek did for a lot of people—made you start to really kind of look deeper into yourself,” she explained in the interview.
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Hampshire also said that she has gotten messages from people who tell her that her ability to be “authentic and open helped them be like that.” And while she believes in visibility and knows how important it is, she also admitted that her “utopian world” is where “you don’t have to identify yourself as anything”—where “we’re just human.”
But again, Hampshire does see “the power of coming out,” pointing out how Lovato announcing that they are non-binary has “push[ed] people into thinking a little broader and into thinking like ‘human,’ ‘person,’ and I love that,” she said. “I came out because I was being asked. And I guess it was also liberating in a way—and also a self-discovery thing because I can look back in high school and see that I wasn’t just wanting to be like the girls, I wanted to f—k the girls. Because it was confusing for a while.”
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In the interview, Hampshire also spoke publicly for the first time about having an eating disorder. “I really thought I was so disgusting and it was such a gross secret,” Hampshire said. “…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.”
But hearing Lovato talk about their own experience with an eating disorder helped her feel “less ashamed” about her own. She sought treatment and, a month after getting out, started Schitt’s Creek. “When I came out of treatment, my whole life changed,” she said. “I can’t say it cured my eating disorder, but it made me find a self or even know that I had a self in me.”
For Hampshire, coming out as pansexual and opening up about her eating disorder “are kind of closely related” in that she had people who helped show her that what she was experiencing was “human.”
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