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See Debbie From "Shameless" Now at 22

Former child actor Emma Kenney is already on another long-running show.

For the entirety of her teens, Emma Kenney starred in Shameless as one of the younger Gallagher siblings, Debbie. When the show premiered in 2011, Kenny was 11 years old, and when it ended last year, she was 21. Now, Kenney is 22 years old, and you may have spotted her on another long-running TV series as she continues her acting career after her breakout role.

Kenney has been outspoken about her time on Shameless, including having a strained relationship with one of her co-stars. Read on to find out more about the young actor's time on the hit Showtime series, her career now, and what else she's up to.

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She's a sitcom star.

Emma Kenney at the premiere of "In Time" in 2011
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

In 2018, while Shameless was still airing, Kenney was cast on another high-profile TV show, the Roseanne revival, which became The Conners. Kenney plays Harris Conner-Healy, the daughter of Sarah Gilbert's character, Darlene.

"It's such an uncanny resemblance," Kenney said on Good Morning America of her TV mom. "I remember once at one of the live tapings, both of our mothers were there, and they were looking at Sarah and I standing next to each other and they were just like, 'This is weird.'"

Kenney also said that she enjoyed getting to take the show's kid stars under her wing, since she was so young when she started Shameless and is now one of the adults on set.

She had issues with one of her co-stars.

Emma Kenney and Emmy Rossum at the Los Angeles Confidential and the Art of Elysium Celebration of the 2011 Emmys
Jesse Grant/WireImage via Getty Images

In a 2021 interview on the podcast Call Her Daddy, Kenney opened up about working with Shameless co-star Emmy Rossum, who played older sister Fiona. She said that she and Rossum, who is 13 years older, had a sisterly relationship "in good and bad ways." Kenney also said she felt like she had to compete with her co-star.

"I felt that dynamic for sure," she said, "and I never understood it because I was nine and she was over 10 years older than me. So I was like, 'Why is there a weird competition here when I'm not trying to compete?' I don't know if it was other people on set trying to create that or if it was her creating it, but I know I wasn't creating it."

Kenney said that she still had "a lot of love for Emmy," but felt a sense of relief when Rossum left the show after Season 9. "It was weird at first, for sure, but the set became a little more of a positive place, I'm not going to lie," the younger actor explained. "I remember pre-her leaving, I'd go to set some days and I'd be very anxious about having a scene with her because if she had a bad day, she made it a bad day for everybody."

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She's been in other projects, too.

Emma Kenney at the 29th Annual Race to Erase MS in May 2022
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Race to Erase MS

In addition to Shameless and The Conners, Kenney has appeared in the 2022 movies Murder at Yellowstone City and Back to Lyla and the 2019 movie Robert the Bruce. She was also featured in an episode of Boardwalk Empire in 2011.

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She loves photography.

Emma Kenney at the premiere of "Murder at Yellowstone City" in June 2022
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Kenney documents parts of her day-to-day life and moments from set on her Instagram account. And in addition to her main account, she also has a page for her photography. Earlier this year, after not posting for a while, she captioned one post, "Did ya miss me? … Went through a bit of a lack of creativity rut recently. But I miss shooting! Dusting off my cameras."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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