Emily Hampshire Isn't Ready to Be Considered an LGBTQ+ Icon: 'I'm Canadian, I Could Never See Myself' That Way!
The actress says her role on Schitt's Creek taught her that "true love, like pure love and whoever you love, is okay"
Emily Hampshire's role on Schitt's Creek and her opennness about her personal life has made her an LGBTQ+ role model for many. But she's not ready to upgrade to the next level.
Hampshire, 39, identifies as pansexual, and is happy to be a champion for others in the LGBTQ+ community. But the actress says she's not into labels — sexuality-wise or otherwise. So to consider herself an LGBTQ+ icon?
"I could never," Hampshire told PEOPLE. "I'm Canadian, I could never see myself [that way], or say that I am an icon within this space! Everybody Canadian that I know [would be] laughing at me, because we really tend to think of ourselves as... well, we apologize a lot, and mainly for our existence. So icon, no, but very, very kind of you to even bring that up."
Along with her many acting pursuits, Hampshire partnered with Delta Faucet to bring attention to the oft-forgotten faucet. And since she's back on the dating scene (her engagement to Teddy Geiger was called off in 2019), she finds that a potential love interest's fixtures really matter more than she realized.
"If I go to the person's house that I'm dating and they have an unattractive faucet, yeah, deal breaker now," Hampshire jokes. "If I have an ugly faucet in a beautifully decorated place, [that] says something about me. And it says something about you, person that I'm never going to date!"
So did she use her big Schitt's Creek paycheck to upgrade her home? Well, not quite, Hampshire says: Schitt's Creek didn't pay much because of the Canadian exchange rate, but she did treat herself to a Tumi suitcase emblazoned with her character's name, Stevie.
The suitcase isn't Hampshire's only lasting legacy from the show. The Schitt's Creek set was a place of tolerance and love, and one of the goals of the show was to portray LGBTQ+ characters as completely average, without big conflicts or struggles — and Hampshire says she learned a lot from her time working there.
"I think it has taught me that true love, like pure love and whoever you love, is okay," she said. "That is what Schitt's did. It normalized all LGBTQ+ relationships. They didn't have a gay couple on the show having this difficult, hard relationship; they just were like any other couple, and that's what was so great about it."
Hampshire says she strives for that same positivity — and lack of labeling — in her own life. She's glad to speak up now, but hopes one day that a show like Schitt's Creek isn't noteworthy for its approach to LGBTQ+ characters.
"I'm proud, and I believe in visibility," she says. "I do think that the power in coming out is ... when you come out, you make it human.
"My dream is one day, there will be no having to segregate it, identify it. Even when you say I identify as pansexual... I don't want to have to," she continues. "I just end up loving whoever I love, and I don't really care where they are on the gender spectrum. To me, it doesn't matter, but I hate that I have to label that. I think now we need to, because it's not normal, but one day it will be, because we have done this."