Interviews Soaps

Mishael Morgan Talks ‘Y&R’s Hot Love Triangle, CW’s ‘Backpackers’ and Staying Fit

Neil and Hilary Kiss
Hilary’s (Mishael Morgan) relationship with Neil (Kristoff St. John) has fans divided. Photo courtesy CBS.

TVSource Magazine: When I mentioned I was interviewing you, our social media counts were bombarded with messages from fans, demanding we discuss your triangle on The Young and the Restless with Kristoff St. John (Neil) and Bryton James (Devon). Before we get into that, let’s take things back to the beginning. What was the original plan for Hilary? It seems like there was a shift along the way where the writers made a concerted effort to move Hilary past her vendetta stage, move her onto the next chapter in her life. What was the deal with that?
Morgan: I booked Y&R from Toronto and I flew down and because I was out of the country, they had to put me on contract in order for me to get my visa and do all that stuff so I could come out to LA and work. So I was always on contract, but they actually, really didn’t know what they were going to do with my character exactly.

Like they knew my purpose in the beginning and I went up and I had meetings with them and they were like “Yeah, you know we have a couple of directions we want to go in but we’re not really sure.”  The way soaps work, they want to see how the audience takes to you and that’s really what they were trying to do in the beginning. They wanted to see if fans were going to take to my character at all, so luckily they did [laughs] but they had no idea who I was going to be with. I actually asked them in the beginning, “Does Hilary and Devon have a little thing? Because this scene kind of feels like the undertone has a little, you know, something going on.” And they were like “No, we never really thought about that”. I was like “Oh, okay.”

The way that I looked at it, it was pretty clear there was something going on with them. She seemed to care what Devon thought from the very beginning, without really knowing him too well. And I played that kind of genuinely and I think that they kind of picked up on that and started playing with that a little bit. But yeah, that was never really part of the plan. They never knew exactly who I would be paired up with. They tried the Hilary and Jack thing [laughs]. I think everybody was like that was a little strange.

TVSource Magazine: I loved them! I wanted them to happen so badly.
Morgan: Did you? [laughs]

TVSource Magazine: Absolutely! When Hilary started working for Jack at Jabot and their friendship was developing, I kept saying how much I wanted them paired up. I knew some would be against it, but I was here for it. Then they kind of kissed and that was it! After that ended, I really saw the sparks between you, Kristoff and Bryton. I hoped the story would morph into a triangle and become a big thing.
Morgan: That’s awesome!

TVSource Magazine: What was your reaction when you found out about Neil and Hilary’s relationship?
Morgan: I was really excited about it! I was a little bit surprised because I thought it was definitely going in the direction of Devon and Mason because that whole thing with Mason stealing from Devon and me giving him a heads up, I thought they would play a little bit more of that back and forth for a while. So I was a little bit surprised but super excited. Kristoff has been on the show forever and I’ve watched him for years growing up because I used to be a huge fan of the show. So just to be in a storyline with him, I was just honored to be able to play opposite his character.

TVSource Magazine: What is it about Neil that attracted Hilary?
Morgan: He’s just super genuine. He’s a very genuine, down to earth, kind person. I don’t think Hilary really met anybody that was just so genuine for no reason. I think that she was stuck in a place where she had this vendetta and she kind of looked at the world as this evil place where everybody is out to get her; nobody had any redeeming qualities and even if you did, I feel like she felt like people were very vindictive, and because of that she felt she needed to be vindicated. Meeting Neil, meeting someone who was just able to forgive her right off the bat, instantly right after everything happened; to just befriend her and get her a job and do all of this amazing stuff for her, I think that’s what made her realize there’s good people in the world and Neil is definitely one of the best.

TVSource Magazine: How does the relationship with Neil complicate her friendship with Devon? It’s obvious he has feelings for her, and she him. But then Neil popped into the picture and now she’s smitten.
Morgan: Well you saw the episode where I slapped him already right [Laughs]? I think it’s definitely going to cause some interesting tension and friction between Hilary and Devon, but there is definitely something there. There was always something there between Hilary and Devon. So that’s going to be such a fun storyline to play. I wish I was a writer and I could tell you what was going to happen, but I really don’t know. I’m just waiting to see what they come up with because they’re amazing.

TVSource Magazine: The rivalry between Hilary and Lily has become a HUGE favorite. You and Christel Khalil have a fantastic dynamic onscreen. How much fun do you have working with her?
Morgan: It’s so much fun! Sometimes, we’ll talk in-between scenes and she feels so bad about having to pour that water on me and do all that stuff but I was like just do it! This is so much fun! Even when she poured it on me, my heart was just racing and I wanted to strangle her, but that’s the fun part of acting. You can do whatever you want to do without consequences. You can say whatever you want to say. Playing opposite Christel, she’s just such a great actress. She’s so invested and always giving 100 percent. It’s just amazing to really just sit back and give everything you can and play that. Play that anger, play that hate that you never get to do without feeling bad about it in real life.

Devon is trying to respect Neil's relationship with Hilary. Little does Neil know that Devon is falling for her! Pictured: Bryton James, Kristoff St. John and Mishael Morgan.
Devon is trying to respect Neil’s relationship with Hilary. Little does Neil know that Devon is falling for her! Pictured: Bryton James, Kristoff St. John and Mishael Morgan.

TVSource Magazine: How do you feel about the reaction from the fans about the triangle between Neil, Hilary and Devon? Fans seem to really be divided – those who love her with Neil, and those who really, really want her with Devon and away from Neil like yesterday!
Morgan: Yeah, I’m definitely feeling that. There’s definitely a real divide. It makes me feel so excited. I’m so happy and thrilled that people are liking what we’re creating because, at the end of the day, when it comes to soap fans, you either want them to love it or hate it. You don’t want them to be indecisive about it. The fact that people have such strong feelings about it just fuels my energy and gives me so much positive energy to do more, keep pushing and keep making this triangle the best that it can be. But it’s funny because I feel like the fans get to Kristoff a little bit when they bring up the age thing [laughs]. They like to bring up the age difference and he’s like, “Why are they saying that? You’re an adult! Neil’s not a pedophile!” [Laughs]

TVSource Magazine: The age thing doesn’t bother me, but apparently it does to a lot of people. I’m like go along with the ride. This is a fantastic story. To see where Hilary’s started and where she’s come and where she’s going, I think your fans are glad to see Hilary happy for a change and not in bunny boiling mode.
Morgan: [Laughs]

TVSource Magazine: Some worry now that Hilary’s happy, she’ll lose some of her edge. Do you see her reverting back to her bad girl ways?
Morgan: She just needs something [or someone] to push her far enough and she’ll do it. Like even when I see her, like with some of the scenes I played with Angell Conwell (Leslie), the way she defends Neil – she’s already so protective of him. All it’s going to take is somebody else that she loves and cares about to be hurt by someone and there’s just no turning back after that. She’s just going to go at them full force no matter what. At the end of the day, Hilary is now alone in this world. As sad as it is, she doesn’t really have anybody. She’s in Genoa City starting a new life with a city of people that she doesn’t know. So if she starts caring about anybody a lot, I think she’s going to fall into a place where she’s vulnerable to people affecting her and bringing her back to those vindictive ways.

TVSource Magazine: I heard that you’re a self-proclaimed foodie.
Morgan: Yeah! [Laughs]

TVSource Magazine: How do you balance being a foodie and also like loving working out? How do you manage to find a happy medium?
Morgan: I have to just push myself to work out. I do high intensity interval training (HIIT). I do a lot of research on how I can work out for the shortest amount of time and get the best benefits [laughs]. I started Googling and I found out that HIIT training actually boosts your metabolism for up to 24 hours, so I just wake up in the morning and do 15-30 minutes of high intensity training and that’s all I do. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes and it can continue to burn for the rest of the day, so I’m kind of making myself feel like it’s okay to splurge a little bit [laughs]. And I try not to eat badly throughout the entire day, like I do love fresh food and healthy food because it just makes you feel so good, but you know, at least once or twice a week I have to just completely indulge. When I indulge it’s a little bit crazy [laughs].

TVSource Magazine: Do you talk with Jessica Collins (Avery) about recipes? She loves to bake and cook and all that stuff.
Morgan: Actually no, we haven’t been able to unfortunately. Our characters just never cross that much in the studio, just because our storylines are so different, so yeah, we’ve never been able to really sit down and talk on a personal level. This cast is so huge, you kind of just get pigeon holed with the people you’re working with because we’ll all come in around the same time, shoot and leave around the same time. That’s just kind of how it works a little bit.

TVSource Magazine: Share with your fans what you’re typical work day is like.
Morgan: It’s always different, but I can give you an example. I got up in the morning at 5:30am, actually I pushed it to about 6:00am. Got up at 6, took a quick shower, put a baseball cap on, jeans and a t-shirt. Because I came straight from Toronto, I actually live like right by the studio, so I walk to set because it’s practically right across the street. I walk over to the studio, like a five minute walk, with my baseball cap and sunglasses on. I come in and they beautify me, get make-up and hair done – go to my dressing room, put on my Hilary wardrobe and then they’ll usually call me down to set after about a half an hour after that. We go down, do blocking – we go through the scenes and the director tells us where they want us to stand, what marks they want us to hit – and then we’ll run the scenes with our other scene partners and we’ll go down and shoot it. It’s so quick. As soon as we come down with blocking down before hand, they’ll say okay let’s rehearse it. Let’s shoot it. Then that’s it, then it’s done! Moving on to the next one.

TVSource Magazine: Were you able to adapt to the fast pace of soaps with ease?
Morgan: Yes and no. I feel like a lot of things that I’ve done throughout the years have prepared me for it. Just auditioning, I’ve always worked a lot. I’ve never told my agents to slow down on auditions, so I’ve usually worked and auditioned at the same time. I’m used to having to learn a lot of material in a very short period of time. So that and coming right out of pilot season and right onto Y&R helped as well. So that was easy for me in that respect. But the fact of having just one take, not having a second or a third, it took me a while to kind of get used to throwing it all away and letting it go. I was just used to doing a lot of series and features where, even if you shoot it, you shoot it in one or two takes because you did a great job; you still get the wide shot and the overs and the medium shot, and then you get the close up. So you get so many opportunities to try different things in the scene, that’s what I love that the genre. So when you go into the soap world, you have to choose what you think is the strongest, go for that and throw everything else away. That took me a little bit of time to adjust, but I think I’m getting into the groove now with that.

TVSource Magazine: I know you can’t give anything away, but tease a little bit of what’s coming up in your storyline.
Morgan: Um… [Long pause]. Hmm… what can I tease? Well, let’s just say that Hilary’s not getting Devon off her mind anytime soon. [Laughs]

TVSource Magazine: That sounds like it’s going to be messy. Like, “I’m with your dad but I can’t get my mind off of you” messy.
Morgan:
[Laughs] Yeah, but can’t get my mind off of you [Devon]!

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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  • […] From the red carpet at the 2014 Daytime Emmy Awards – Interviews with The Young and the Restless star Mishael Morgan. TVSource Magazine’s West Coast Editor, William Dallman, attended the 41th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. The Young and the Restless star Mishael Morgan (Hilary) spoke with TVSource Magazine on the Daytime Emmy red carpet about what’s coming up with her character and getting to know her co-stars. To read our previous interview with the actress, click here. […]

  • I hate Hilary’s Y&R love triangle so much because Leslie doesn’t deserve any man to love her because she ran off without Neil because she met someone she never met on the world web Internet. Neil deserve much better then that and Hilary that and Devon doesn’t need to ruin his dad’s love life because he lost his only mom and in my point of view if your dad’s loves a new woman after their first woman who loves them dies it’s perfectly fine and you need respect it until when it goes somethings goes wrong and then I understand you need to step up and do something about it.