‘ I’m See king Treatment’
Troubled Roseanne Star Reveals: Determined not to become another childstar statistic, Emma Kenney is getting help for issues including anxiety and depression
Emma Kenney has been a revelation to watch as she plays Darlene’s all-grownup — and troubled — teen daughter, Harris, on ABC’S wildly successful Roseanne reboot. On the April 3 episode, Darlene busts Harris for selling shoplifted goods on Etsy. Darlene is devastated to discover her kid hates living with grandparents Roseanne and Dan in their tiny Illinois town so much that she’s resorted to illegal activity so she can raise money to run away. Harris’ bad behavior, Darlene realizes, is rooted in deep unhappiness.
The storyline hits painfully close to home for Emma, 18. She’s been acting since she was 10 — she’s also appeared on Showtime’s Shameless since 2011. And in recent months she has been struggling with the dark side of child stardom. “I was running with a really fast crowd. I was being naive and very immature, and I was doing things I should not be doing because it was illegal and I’m not 21,” she tells In Touch in an exclusive interview. “It wasn’t healthy, and it was making me feel even worse — anxious and depressed. It was just a slippery slope that I did not want to go down. And I knew that I needed to stop it.” So with her partying, anxiety and depression reaching a critical point, Emma has decided to get help. “I’m going to be seeking treatment for my battles,” she reveals, without giving specifics about what type of treatment she’ll receive. “I’m going to work through it. I’m going to get help and make better choices.”
LOSING HER WAY Though Emma says her issues have not affected her work, her private life has suffered. “I just didn’t know how to deal with stress, so I would have an occasional wild night. I would go out to clubs and bars with older friends in Hollywood,” she says. “I was very anxious, very depressed. I had no idea how to handle my emotions.” So she stopped and took inventory. “I wrote down a list of who I was surrounding myself with and realized I had to cut some of these people out of my life because they’re toxic and they’re leeches just trying to hop onto my bandwagon of success,” she says.
When she was on a hiatus from Shameless, the bad choices and toxic friends took a toll. “I was bored and didn’t know what to do. I’m such a workaholic that I just acted out. Now, in treatment, I will work on finding other ways to cope with boredom, find hobbies and better learn how to deal with stress,” she says, adding that her parents, closest friends and co-stars have been supportive. “I just think I need a mental sanity break and a break from the Hollywood scene.”
SETTING AN EXAMPLE Emma starts filming the next season of Shameless in May; then comes another season of Roseanne. “I want to be the healthiest, best Emma that I can be, and I know that by going to treatment that’s what’s going to happen, and I’m going to continue on that positive road,” she says, explaining that she’s speaking out because she wants to help others who are struggling. “I just want to send a message to my fans saying that it’s OK to admit that you need help, and it doesn’t make you weak. I know I’m making the right choice by going to treatment, and I’m going to come out the other side the right Emma, the true Emma that I’ve always been.”
TURNING POINT “I don’t have any fears. I’m excited to go,” Emma says of getting treatment. “I want to be a positive figure for young girls and boys, for everyone.” “I think that many people can relate” to the Conner family, says Emma, who bears an...