It’s been a little over a year since Mishael Morgan took CBS’ The Young and the Restless by storm as troublemaker Hilary Curtis, but things aren’t slowing down for one of daytime’s rising stars.
After spending months terrorizing the Winters-Ashby family, Hilary turned over a new leaf (thanks to a creative change behind the scenes), trying to repair the damage she caused and forge new relationships with those she wronged. It hasn’t been easy, as rival Lily (Christel Khalil) refuses to let the one time online terrorizer forget what she’s done to her family, but not everyone in Genoa City is holding on to grudges. In the midst of rejection and heartbreak, Hilary entered into a fast moving romance with businessman and former target Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John). It wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that Neil’s adopted son Devon (Bryton James) harbors a secret crush on Hilary! Faced with resentment from Neil’s children and the social anxiety of being with an older man, Hilary’s got a lot on her plate right now and it’s only going to get worse!
TVSource Magazine caught up with the actress to discuss her front burner storyline, upcoming CW series Backpackers, balancing being a food lover while keeping in shape and the life changing event that led to her choosing acting as a profession.
TVSource Magazine: You’re starring in the new CW series Backpackers, premiering July 7. Who are you playing and what is she like?
Mishael Morgan: My character is Maya. She’s a free spirited, modern-day hippie. She kind of flies by the seat of her pants. She took a year off from life to basically just travel Europe and explore things and have new experiences. She’s a little bit [off] but she’s down to earth at the same time. She’s not like a crazy, crazy partier, but she likes to try everything once.
TVSource Magazine: How does Maya meet up with Dillon Casey and Noah Reid’s characters, Brandon and Ryan?
Morgan: Basically they get stranded in the second episode somewhere randomly in the French countryside. Me and my best friend, Jessica (played by Aurélie Montea) who I was traveling Europe with, just kind of run into them and kind of decide to give them a ride. And then we end up having a picnic and then we end up disappearing because Maya is such a free spirit, she’s like, “Okay, you take care. I’ll see you if I’m supposed to see you.” Throughout the series they continue to keep bumping into each other. Dillon Casey’s character is the stud, the guy gets a lot of girls and doesn’t really care about anybody. My character meeting Dillon’s character has this moment for him where he realizes you can actually have fun with the same person over and over again.
TVSource Magazine: Did you audition for the show? I know it started off as a web series on CW Seed, then it was ordered as a summer series.
Morgan: Yeah! I auditioned for the role when it was the web series. I went in and I actually read with Dillon. One of his first shows that he did was MVP, which was a Canadian series.
TVSource Magazine: I loved MVP!
Morgan: That was actually the first thing that I ever did really, was an episode of MVP. I played this exotic beauty that basically just came on set and made out with Dillon. So when I saw him again and we were kind of just doing a chemistry read, it was awesome. So I was like oh I know you. It was really, really fun. A week later they called me and that was it.
TVSource Magazine: How much of your comedic chops do you get to showcase in the role of Maya?
Morgan: That’s the thing that I hate the most about a lot of the [comedy] roles I’ve [booked] – I’m always playing the straight man. Maya is pretty much the straight man. She’s a little bit quirky; I tried to make her a little bit quirky so that I could bring out a little bit of comedy, but she’s definitely still a straight man. She’s kind of looking at these two guys like “Are you guys serious?” a lot of the time.
TVSource Magazine: Do you share any characteristics with Maya? Are you kind of a free spirit as well or are you more of a button down person?
Morgan: I think I’m like one percent Maya [laughs]. Or maybe 10 percent Maya. I wish I could be so much more adventurous, but I did make a huge transition in my life to become an actress, because I was going to be a lawyer before that. I just kind of literally just said “Okay, I’m gonna do this.” And I turned down my law school acceptance and I just kind of went and did this. Since then, I’ve definitely felt like a Maya-ish character, but I definitely have more of an A-type personality than Maya [laughs].
TVSource Magazine: What led to you choosing to act professionally? You said you were originally going to be a lawyer. What caused you to decide this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?
Morgan: Well, I got into a car accident when I was 19 [and] I broke my neck. 10 percent more pressure and I could have been paralyzed from the neck down. I’m lying in the hospital bed for five days because my parents were trying to figure out, you know, what neurosurgeon was going to be doing the surgery. So basically I was just left stranded, lying in a bed, staring at the ceiling for five days and couldn’t move. I started just rethinking and reevaluating my life and I just, at first I was like, “You know, I won’t regret anything. If I do get paralyzed from the neck down, I could still be a lawyer. It would be hard but I could still work and fight for people.” I really wanted to be a human rights international lawyer. So I’m like I can still do something, I can make a difference even if I’m paralyzed. Then, a little voice in my head kind of was like, “Well you didn’t really try acting. That was the one thing you always felt alive.”
Throughout elementary and high school, I would do stage plays and I felt so alive doing it, but I was paralyzed with fear to do it. Logically, it just didn’t make any sense to be to be an actor [laughs]. I was like what does that even mean? I didn’t think you could really have a career as an actor unless you were going to be super, uber famous, you know? I don’t know. It just scared me a lot. After that accident though, I kind of started telling myself if I can get through this, I’m going to at least try. Then, amazingly, things just started flowing really easily. I still kept going to school, I kept doing my undergrad, but when I got on to law school, I booked a series regular role two weeks before I was supposed to go and I kind of just had this talk with myself and the universe and I just said ‘If this is what I’m supposed to do, then you know, something is going to stop me from going to law school. And then it did, so I was like okay, this is a sign, I think I’m just going to do this. And I haven’t really looked back ever since.
TVSource Magazine: Wow. A lot of people wouldn’t have been able to commit to that decision and you did. You had a dream, decided you wanted to do it, and you went after it and you accomplished it.
Morgan: Thank you.
TVSource Magazine: I heard you have a movie coming out later this summer. What’s the premise of Swearnet: The Movie?
Morgan: Do you know the Trailer Park Boys? Their humor is very crass and there’s a lot of swearing that’s going on in the Trailer Park Boys. Basically this movie is a mockumentary about them deciding they don’t want to do the Trailer Park Boys anymore, they want to start pushing other shows. They find out that a lot of the networks are telling them you can’t have this much swearing in it, you can’t have this much nudity in it, crazy stuff going on. So then they decide to go off on their own and make their own network. They have no idea what they’re doing but they just decide to start an internet network and video tape everything that’s going on the whole time. That’s why it’s kind of shot like a mockumentary; it’s super cool the way that they did it. But yeah, it’s a huge comedy about four guys getting themselves into a lot of trouble while trying to set up their own crazy network.
TVSource Magazine: How does your character get involved with them?
Morgan: I’m playing Jamie. She [becomes] attracted to Julie’s ex-boyfriend, played by Rob Wells. In the beginning, basically I’m just a PR person. I meet the Trailer Park Boys randomly and decide I’m going to do some PR stuff for them and help them out with their network, helping push their new project. I don’t realize what I got myself into until halfway through the movie where I’m like, “These guys are completely insane!” I still stick to it and follow through with it. There’s a little bit of a happy ending after all the craziness.
TVSource Magazine: So it’s a comedy. And your character is involved in a bunch of craziness. Do you get to be funny at all this time?
Morgan: I do get a couple of funny scenes in this one! [Laughs] There’s a couple of fight scenes, actually between me and Julie, there’s a couple of funny things I get involved in a little bit as well. I don’t think the Trailer Park Boys could get away with someone being in their movie and not being funny. So they had to give me a couple of really, really juicy, great, funny scenes, which was fun.