We’re just a few weeks away from the Season 1 finale for NBC’s new hit series FOUND and we couldn’t be more excited.
Now that the SAG-Aftra strike has finally ended, we were excited to speak with FOUND actress/producer Shanola Hampton about finally having the opportunity to promote the show, her character Gabi’s onscreen unraveling, her phenomenal cast and crew and the cliffhangers that keep us coming back for more week after week! Check out our Q&A when you continue!
Global Grind: What’s it been like having this incredible show on the air and not being able to promote it because of the strike?
Shanola Hampton: “I believed through the strike… I think God sets it up for me, God/universe whatever you want to call it, and He said ‘I’m going to give you just a little bit and I’ll give you a little bit more and then I gave you a little bit more.’ When you look at it, it’s like ‘Oh my God this is the greatest time of my life because I get to lead a show, be a producer of a show that I believe in, that yes it’s it’s my face, like but it’s the stories behind the face that I want to be out there and I wanna scream it from the rooftops!’ And then there’s a strike and then there’s the ‘I can’t say anything…’ But I do believe that the steps get ordered in a way so that when you do receive, your kicked to receive all of the things and to handle it with grace and to then say, ‘Hey I get to talk about it now! And I have no chill!’”
If you haven’t had a chance to watch FOUND yet, the show centers around a public relations specialist Gabi Mosely (played by Hampton) whose crisis management team work to help locate missing persons. While more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S, over half that number are people of color or other cases the country seems to forget about — but fortunately those people are precisely the ones that Mosely and her team are laser focused on saving. Of course there is a twist, because Gabi was abducted during her own childhood/adolescence and she’s got a lot of unresolved trauma — and a pretty big secret — all hiding just under the surface.
Global Grind: Every episode is different, you have a different kind of missing person every episode. Did you realize missing could mean so many different things?
Shanola Hampton: “That’s a tough one because, you know I am a brown woman, so these are not new conversations. I knew that there was a large community of people because I’ve only been seeing certain people in the media that will get recognition when they were missing, so I knew that missing people had a lot of different faces. That wasn’t shocking for me. That wasn’t new for me. It just really was more of a ‘Yay!’ when you’re finally able to bring light to this.”
Global Grind: Gabi’s got a lot going on, she’s getting closer and closer to doing too much and getting caught up…
Shanola Hampton: Have you noticed that she’s become more and more unhinged?
We’ve noticed, Trent has noticed, Lacey has noticed, everybody is noticing!
Shanola Hampton: I just feel like something’s gotta break because, you can’t hold on if you have the responsibilities that she has, not only to her team, but to finding the missing people herself and still have this big secret that is so layered in pain and confusion and childhood trauma. It just is a lot to process and I think it’s like a volcano about to blow.
We are definitely making our way there. Can you feel it getting closer? When you’re watching each episode and every cliffhanger and you’re like, ‘This is why I binge! I can’t watch week to week. Look what you’ve done to me!’
Global Grind: Talk to us a little bit about this phenomenal ensemble cast that you work with?
Shanola Hampton: “That’s the best thing about this right? It’s a show about everyone. Different faces of trauma and healing. You need a cast that’s able to pull it off and I think we found that. We found that in the legend that is Kelli Williams. If your heart doesn’t break when you just look in her eyes that moment when she holds up her son’s photo. And the found wall. That just breaks you.”
“Then you have the beautiful Gabrielle Walsh when you look in her eyes and she’s like a deer and she’s sweet and she wants the best for everyone. That quality for a grown women to still be able to possess that deer-like quality is very rare. Only Gabrielle can do it.”
“Then you have Arlen (Escarpeta) who is the purest person on a human level that I have ever met, but also able to battle what it is to be agoraphobic and to have the hardest job because he’s the only one that rarely acts with someone in the room. He’s on the screen most of the time.”
“And then Karan [Oberoi] is one of the best actors that I know, and him as Dahn and what he brings to it. He’s got the strength but also deep layers, deep healing with all of the things he’s been through. Towards the second season you’re going to see a lot more and he serves the people. And then of course you have The Great, The Wonderful — I can’t stand him and he thinks he’s so cute because he’s been in his business for so long right? Mark-Paul [Gosselaar] is the best partner since Steve Howie that I’ve had and it is more than a pleasure to work with him. He is my bloodline in this process. Is that a thing? Yeah my bloodline, my oxygen. I’m better when I’m doing things with him and I breathe better because of him.”
Global Grind: You’re not just acting on FOUND, you also produce and you’re working with a Black woman executive producer/showrunner in Nkechi Okoro Carroll. What is it like to be at the helm as a Black woman in a business that still has so many barriers? How has it been working with NBC?
Shanola Hampton: “NBC in general — if you look at their lineup you see there are strong diverse characters in different worlds, Irrational and FOUND and Transplant, all of that. That’s wonderful to have the content to back it up. That’s been really it. It makes me feel so excited that I’m a part of that family. The Warner Brothers and NBC family, it’s been really really good to me. To work with Nkechi, she has three shows on TV — all led by people of color, all telling intelligent stories and still keeping people hungry for more. It is a pleasure.”
“But I will tell you this, it’s not just the visionary, it’s not just the writer. When I met her and it was to be a director, we talked about leading with love, that was the most important thing. You get to a certain level and you get to choose who you want to work with and her no joke jerk policy and my no jerk policy and that we lead with love, that’s the part. I can be this much of a visionary, I can be this much of a powerhouse, but guess what? I can still hug you and say hi and be loving and be kind that’s the best part about working with a sister or a human being in general, because that’s how it should be.”
Global Grind: Is there anything that we can tease for the finale?
Shanola Hampton: “All I’ll say is, and I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — a Buffet of Yumminess! If you go to Golden Corral, you get your steak, you get your chicken, you get lobster sometimes, yeah so we are Golden Corral times 40!”
Tune in to FOUND on NBC Tuesday nights at 10pm EST. New episodes also stream the following day on Peacock!