INTERVIEW: The Young and the Restless' Mishael Morgan opens up about her first Lead Actress nomination

Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2022 3:17:20 PM
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Find out why Mishael Morgan (Amanda Sinclair, The Young and the Restless) is a trailblazer in more ways than one during this year's Daytime Emmy Awards, and why the actress is thrilled to celebrate the entire medium's hard work rather than just her own.

The Young and the Restless' Mishael Morgan (Amanda Sinclair) knew that it was a risk to submit herself in the Lead Actress category for the Daytime Emmy Awards, but she tells Soap Central that it was a risk worth taking, no matter how it turned out. Keep reading to find out what inspiring conversations convinced her to take the leap and why she thinks more daytime actresses should take the same chance and go for the gold -- literally!

Soap Central: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination! How have you been feeling since the nominations came out?

Mishael Morgan: It feels a little surreal. I keep reminding myself that I'm in the Lead category. That's crazy! But it's been awesome. I'm finding out all of these new things, like I'm the second woman of color or a minority who's ever been nominated in this category, which feels amazing. It's already been a ride, so we'll see when we're at the Emmys!

Soap Central: What made you decide to submit yourself in the Lead category this year? Was that decision based on the material that you were given, or...?

Morgan: It was a combination of things. It kind of hit me personally when I thought, "Who is the ethnic lead on the show?" And it's funny because I was talking to Bryton James [Devon Hamilton], and I was telling him that it breaks my heart, and I love Kristoff [St. John, Neil Winters] so much, but now that Kristoff isn't here anymore, I was telling him, "You are the male ethnic lead. You run the African American storyline on the show." And he was like, "Yeah, I don't know. I'm not really a lead." And I said, "But you are! You decide if you want to be the lead." And while I was telling him that, I started thinking about it for myself, where I was like, "Okay, yeah, I guess I decide!" I was kind of throwing it around in my head, but what solidified it for me was I went out to lunch with Ptosha Storey, who plays my mom [Naya Benedict] on the show. We had done some amazing scenes together, and I was telling her that she should consider submitting, and she was like, "Can I, really? Is that something that I could do?" And I was like, "Yeah, they have a Guest Star category, and you've done so many episodes, so you may even be able to go into Supporting." And then she said, "Because you're going to go into Lead, right?" And I was like, "Oh, no. I've never done Lead." And I told her how I felt, and she said, "You definitely have to go into Lead. Mishael, I came on the show to support your storyline. Your grandfather came on the show to support your storyline. They brought your sister on the show to support your storyline. So, you are not a supporting character in your storyline! You're the lead!" And I was like, "You know what, you're right!"

Soap Central: Wow, that's amazing. And a really smart thing for her to have pointed out.

Morgan: I know, right? There are so many people in this medium who are still scared to take that step and go into Lead, and it really is, I believe, out of being very modest and not wanting to take that away from the women who've been here a really long time and who have really solidified these really strong families and these really strong characters. So, you're thinking, "Well, I haven't been on the show that long, definitely in comparison to some of the women who've been on this show for a really long time." You just feel intimidated to put yourself in that category. But now is the time that women are really stepping into their power, and I felt like, you know, what's the worst that could happen? I won't get nominated. Not a big deal. I know what that feels like! [Laughs] So, I thought, "Let's just roll the dice and go for it." Because that's what I think we should do. I think it was a lead story, it was my story, and I think I owed it to the writers who wrote it for me, I owed it to Josh Griffith, the head writer who gave me this story, and I had to honor it for what it was, and it was a lead. So, I did it!

Soap Central: I love that story! And as you said, it was a risk, but it was one that paid off, so how did you react when you found out that you'd landed the nomination?

Morgan: I was shell-shocked! [Laughs] I honestly couldn't believe it -- because of that same reason, that no matter how long you've been on the show, this show has such a history, and it goes back so long, it's scary to step into the idea of, "I'm a lead on the number one soap that's been on TV since before I was born!" It's intimidating stepping into that category, so, I was shocked that I was being honored in that category. But I'm also very grateful.

Soap Central: Did you get a lot of love and support from your castmates when the nominations were announced? You were all on set together, which must have been so much fun!

Morgan: Oh, I got so much love! And that's how everybody should find out that they were nominated, because we all looked around, and there was just such a sense of camaraderie between us, and we were so happy for each other. No matter who you tell outside of the realm of being an actor or in the industry, it just doesn't feel the same. Another actor really gets it, where you're like, "I've worked really hard." And they know what it means to work hard in a storyline. There's just a different level of, "I see you, and I am so happy for you," when your peers do it. It's such a beautiful thing to share for all of us. We were all there, and we were working, but we had a chance to sit to the side and talk, and we had such great conversations that day. But you know, we went back to work, as the professionals that we are! [Laughs] But it was great, and I loved it. That's how it should happen every year, doing a big party scene so all the nominees are there together!

Soap Central: Who did you share the exciting news with first, as soon as you could call family and friends?

Morgan: I texted my husband first, and he just was like, "Oh, okay. That's great." He was there when I was saddling if I should go into Lead or not, and he just was like, "I knew you could do it!" And then my mom had actually called me when I was on set, which is so kismet. She'll try and call me or FaceTime me once or twice a week, but it just happened to be right after I learned the news, but I was on set, so I was only able to text her back, and I was like, "Hey, mom, I just wanted to let you know that you might find out that I just got nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the Daytime Emmys." And she tried to call me again, and I was like, "I can't talk right now!" [Laughs]

Soap Central: Which scenes did you put on your reel?

Morgan: Most of the scenes were about Amanda finding out who her mother was and meeting her. It started with the scene where Amanda meets her mother for the first time and unfortunately, Naya tells her that she is a mistake, so it's the scene where Amanda is not having that and kind of tells Naya everything that she's always wanted to tell her, in terms of you leaving me behind and not caring, and she just kind of puts her emotions out there on Naya. And then I also included the scene where Naya asked Amanda to represent her grandfather. Amanda's grandfather was accused of murdering her father, and then Naya came to her and asked her to represent her in the case, and I used the scene where Amanda kind of says, "Why would you want me to represent my grandfather when you clearly told me that I was a mistake? And now what, you just want to welcome me into the family because you need me?" And then I included the scene where Amanda is sitting with Devon, and she's just realized that her family is lying to her and they're using her as a pawn in this case, and there was a heartbreaking moment where she explained that she really just wanted to do right by her father, but she also really wants this dream of a family at the same time. And finally, I included [some scenes where she has a heart-to-heart with her sister], and to bring it full circle, the scene where Amanda tells Michael, Christian LeBlanc, that she's really happy that she took her grandfather to trial and she really feels like she honored her father in this way, and that kind of wrapped it all up.

Soap Central: A lot of the scenes you mentioned were really deep and emotional. Do you have any stand-out memories from filming any of them?

Morgan: I remember when Ptosha came in. I was so excited to meet her, because she wasn't just Amanda's mom, she was also Hilary's mom, and I spent so much time building Hilary and developing that character and thinking about what her backstory was, so to actually kind of have that now solidified as this being their mother was interesting to me. I really wanted to know her and just talk to her and get to know her, and I remember we sat outside, and we were prepping for our first scenes together, and we just really hit it off right away, and I knew that these scenes would be special. I had such a connection with her, just with her own life and what the storyline meant to her, and then how I started connecting to the material, and I just knew, "We have something here. Between us, we're going to do some good work, and we're going to have a lot of fun." And I think we did! And I'm glad it showed.

Soap Central: How do you feel about the other nominees in your category?

Morgan: I don't know the other nominees' work that well. I met Marci Miller [Abigail Deveraux, Days of our Lives] when I was nominated in the Supporting category a few years ago at a panel, and she's lovely. I've seen some of her work over the years, and it's awesome, so, I feel honored to be in the same category as her. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see the others' reels this year, so I can't really speak on it. But I'm honored to share the category with such talented performers.

Soap Central: What are you most excited about for the Emmy ceremony in June?

Morgan: I'm really looking forward to it being live again on CBS! The Emmys is like our work party. Nobody really understands, but it really is the ultimate work party. In this medium, we work 365 days a year, it feels like. We really work every day. We're always grinding it out, and we never get the opportunity [to stop and appreciate that]. So, the Emmys is our time to get dressed up, be with each other, have a few drinks, and have a lot of stories to tell. It really keeps us going! We talk about what happened at the Emmys for the whole next year to come! So, I'm just looking forward to spending time with my cast, my fellow nominees, and everybody -- people behind and in front of the camera -- and just having an awesome work party with each other and celebrating all of our hard work over a whole year. And now it's actually three years of work that we're celebrating, and getting through COVID, and making a show through COVID, and getting back to normal! We're celebrating all of it, and I'm excited to celebrate getting through all of these crazy years together.

Soap Central: There will definitely be an extra celebratory feel to the ceremony, with all of that plus you being nominated. Is all of that influencing what you might wear on the big night?

Morgan: Yes! I don't know what I'm going to wear yet, but I keep envisioning myself in red. I don't know why, I just see red. I feel like I haven't done red the way I want to do red yet. I have done red two times at the Emmys, one was kind of a pinky-red years ago, but it was very virginal. It was very beautiful, but very simple... and this year, I want to do something more like "the lady in red." I want a beautiful silhouette, maybe something that trumpets out, and I'm telling you this now, but it might not be anything like that! [Laughs] But I am envisioning red.

Soap Central: Are you the type to prepare an acceptance speech ahead of time in case you win?

Morgan: No, I am not! [Laughs] But I'm also the type that's never had to say an acceptance speech, so every single time they didn't call my name, there was a mix of, "Aaawww," and a sigh of relief, because I was like, "Oh, good -- I don't have to think about the speech anymore!" Because I wasn't sure of what I was going to say. That being said, this year, I won't prepare a full acceptance speech, but I will prepare something. I do want it to come from the heart, so there's a juggle there, because I don't want it to feel too rehearsed. But I want to make sure that I thank everybody, and I don't want to walk off the stage saying, "Oh, I should have said this," or, "I should have said that." So, I'll probably have my beats in terms of what I want to hit and who I want to thank, and then, other than that, I'll just speak from the heart and call it a day.

Soap Central: Did you celebrate receiving your Emmy nomination, or will you?

Morgan: CBS is amazing -- they sent me this big bottle of Champagne, but it was so funny because I was on a juice cleanse! [Laughs] I had decided to do a juice cleanse because I had never really done one before, and there was so much going on with traveling a lot to Toronto and eating whatever I wanted, and I just felt icky, and my girlfriend suggested a juice cleanse, and so I did it, and then I got a nomination, and everyone was sending me cookies and Champagne and chocolates! And I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I can't eat any of this!" [Laughs] But no, we didn't celebrate my nomination, and I don't know that we'll have time to; being a mom, you don't have much time for yourself anymore, which is sad. But also, I do think [getting the nomination] is an amazing accomplishment, but maybe I downplayed it in my mind because I don't feel like it makes me any better than all of my peers. I think it just means that it's one year that I had good work, and my work stood out a little bit more than somebody else's in that specific year, but we're all so talented that it's hard to celebrate it as this big win. When you work so closely with everybody, and it's such a group effort, and everybody makes me better, it feels like the real celebration is going to the Emmys together and celebrating, "We all work together, and these select few are kind of standing up and representing us," and I just happen to be one of them. But it's weird! I don't know how to celebrate it, because it doesn't feel like it's just mine; it feels like it's ours. So, I can't wait to celebrate it together. Win or lose, we get to celebrate together, and that's the best!

What do you think about Mishael Morgan being nominated for an Emmy in the Lead Actress category this year? What did you think about her work as Amanda in 2021? Do you think she'll take home the gold during the Emmy ceremony in June? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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