Shanola Hampton Delves into The Impact of ‘Found’ and Dynamic Character Relationship

In a BET exclusive, Hampton discusses the nuances of the complex procedural drama, now airing on NBC.

The holiday season is a time for spreading joy and giving to those dear to us, and NBC is embracing this spirit by gifting fans with an early present—the renewal of the freshman drama "Found" for a second season. This gripping series follows Gabi Mosely, played by Shanola Hampton, a public relations specialist leading a crisis management team dedicated to locating missing individuals often overlooked by the system, as outlined in the press release.

Gabi was once among those forgotten, harboring a haunting secret—she has located her kidnapper, Sir (portrayed by Mark-Paul Gosselaar). She harnesses his twisted expertise to assist in solving their cases. If you're not up-to-date, the series will premiere its 10th episode this week, promising even more intrigue and suspense with each viewing.

Hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, the 46-year-old actress began her journey in the entertainment industry after attending Winthrop University and earning a theater degree, later obtaining a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Hampton's career took off in the 2000s with guest appearances on popular shows like "Reba" and "Strong Medicine" before landing her most memorable role as Veronica Fisher in the series "Shameless." Alongside her acting, Hampton even had the opportunity to direct an episode during the show's final season.

In an exclusive interview with before the announcement of season two, Hampton delved into discussions about the series, exploring the intricate relationship between Gabi and Sir, reflecting on social media's role in humanizing Sir, emphasizing the importance of showcasing the diverse impacts of trauma within the series, and sharing her dream guest stars for the upcoming season. “Found” feels like a letter to the police to spend more time looking for all missing persons, not just our white counterparts. How do you think this series will impact and hopefully push police forces to do a better job when it pertains to missing people of color? 

Shanola Hampton: I think it’s a big statement to say it’s just the police force because it’s a combination of things – we have to look for our babies and those a part of underrepresented communities, but it’s also the media. The media plays a big part in what the police will look for as well. This isn’t a new topic if you’re a part of an underrepresented community but it’s now at the forefront of those who aren’t privy to the conversations or heard it in passing but haven't done anything because it doesn’t affect them. The show is beginning to become a serious conversation for others and that will move the needle to make sure that, while it won’t change overnight, it will make people pause and have people question if one person has a hashtag, so should the other person especially if they were kidnapped at the same time. The series is one of its kind — a former missing person, Gabi, turned detective kidnapping her kidnapper, Sir, and makes him help her get in the minds of kidnappers to save missing persons. Describe the relationship between the two.

Shanola Hampton: The relationship between Sir and Gabi is creepy, weird, exciting – you become mad and grossed out at yourself for even being excited but you’re also intrigued. All of these things I mentioned are wrapped up into the chemistry between Sir and Gabi, which we have never seen before on television because it’s not sexual, but what is it? (laughs). They have this dynamic that is undefined but it’s messing with the audience's minds. It’s been a pleasure to play into all of these things with my character and with [Mark] because he knows how to play his character and the chemistry well. There are moments, even speaking with fans and on social media, where people sympathize with Sir to an extent, and he’s, in a weird way, likable. Is one of the show's goals, in your opinion, supposed to humanize Sir? 

Shanola Hampton: For Mark-Paul to have charisma, and he’s good-looking, but it’s more than that because it’s a charisma he carries when he delivers Sir, which makes people think that way. Generally speaking, if a person has gone crazy, there’s a certain trauma they experienced in their own life and you’ll see that towards the end of the season, which caused Sir’s mental state to be what it is. People have also pointed out the hypocrisy that Gabi is displaying and the “monster” people would say is Gabi. My daughter watched with me and was shocked that Gabi gave Sir burnt toast (laughs) so it’s a mind thing and which is why the show is so great. It comments on the complexities as humans instead of solely our society and how we see the world differently, making it so beautiful to see it through different lenses. The show gives you a glimpse into your morality because some people would root for Sir and Gabi to be a couple. Every member of Mosley and Associates deals with the trauma of being kidnapped OR having a member of their family being kidnapped differently. Why was it important for the series to show how people deal with these issues differently with each character?  

Shanola Hampton: It was important because trauma has no discrimination, specific face, color, or gender so we wanted to show that everyone experiences trauma but their experience and healing is different every time so we wanted to really highlight that. The season is heating up, and it seems like Gabi’s team is on to wanting to find Sir, with one of the episodes hinting that they may find Sir in her basement. How do you think the finding of Sir will change the dynamic of the character’s relationship with Gabi and the series as a whole, and do you think the Sir character will be needed for the series entirety or do you think his story will run its course at some point? 

Hampton: This is such a great question, Ty, because I would love to have Mark-Paul work with me forever (laughs) and he’s one of the best partners I’ve ever worked with so it would be so hard for me to work without him. While I get story leads for the show, I don't know about Sir’s possible fate but in terms of your second question, everything that’s in the dark comes to light and when it happens, it rocks everyone forever and nothing will be the same. Your relationship changes and you will never see that person the same again so if the team were to find out that Gabi has kept Sir in the basement, despite their no judgment policy, it would be very hard for the team to wrap their mind around Gabi pulling off such a thing and keeping it from them. 

You can watch “Found” on NBC on Tuesdays at 10PM ET. and stream the next day on Peacock.

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