Interviews Soaps

Mishael Morgan’s Agent David Ritchie on Why Contract Talks With ‘Y&R’ Ceased (Exclusive)

Mishael Morgan
Photo Credit: CBS

From the moment Mishael Morgan walked into the frame as Hilary Curtis on June 14, 2013, it was clear to everyone in our offices something special was taking place. For the last five years, she’s proven us right at every turn. No matter how strange, or nonsensical the storylines and characterization had become over the prior three writing teams, Mishael Morgan took what was given and excelled as only she could. When TV Source Magazine broke the news of her impending exit from The Young and the Restless due to contract disputes, shock and frustration are the adjectives that accurately describe our feelings. Other publications have described her exit as “of her own accord,” and that’s true to an extent. But there’s another layer to that, and we contacted Mishael’s manager, Ambition Talent’s David Ritchie, who spoke with us on the record about his client’s exit from Y&R.

Thank you for speaking with us today. First, we want to address the rumor that Mishael Morgan’s contract already expired and she’s continuing filming to wrap her exit. Is that true?
That is incorrect. Her original contract was for three years and that contract expired approximately the spring of 2016. Then we renegotiated which was a very, in my words, extremely frustrating renegotiation as no raise was given to her. That was a 2-year contract. That two-year contract expires at the end of this week (June 22, 2018). We then began to attempt to renegotiate a further contract for her, a third one, in late March/early April.

David Ritchie, Owner of Ambition Talent

We don’t know the intricacies of contracts, but we do know that obviously money is a factor. We also know episode counts, outs, and the ability to do outside projects have been factors in the past for some.  Would you say that it was just one aspect of the contract that held up the process or was it everything?
I would say money. Everything starts in a contract with money and you go from there. So if the producer or studio or network is willing to pay a lot of money for the client, then the client is a little more giving to the studio or networks asks. If the network or studio is not willing to pay market rate, then you’re going to want something else in return for that. It all starts with finances essentially, and they were not prepared to give her a raise. So, it would mean that she worked for five years with no increase.

Can you break that down for us?
So, how soap contracts usually work is you sign on for three years. In season one, you accept your fee. Season two, you get an increase in pay and usually an increase in episode guarantees. And season three, you get an increase in pay and usually an increase in episode guarantees. And then once the contract expires and you go back, and my experience has been with negotiating with soaps — and not all soaps are the same — is that you increase the talent’s fee depending on his or her visibility and value and the number of fans he or she has. But not every soap operates the same. So, in the first negotiation there was no increase in pay. For various reasons, Mishael and her team, we accepted that and we signed on for two more years. But for this third contract, the series offered no increase in pay.

It’s interesting you mentioned visibility, because in writing about the importance of Mishael’s role on the series, there is currently no other character of color on the other soap operas, specifically a woman of color, driving as much story as she is.  With what is showcased on General Hospital, Days of our Lives and The Bold and the Beautiful, it’s difficult to compare with what Mishael has been asked to do. So the fact that they are not willing to pay for her visibility is shocking.

Photo Credit: © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com

It shocked me, to say the least. As one of Mishael’s representatives, it’s hard to know who to talk to about this because we don’t know how the budgets work. We don’t know how the networks move money around. So, it’s hard to know what the internal thought is. Especially if it’s a number of accountants making the decisions who don’t know who Mishael is or what her contributions to the show are.  But for the record, I am not blaming anyone for this because I don’t know who to address it to. But I was very disappointed that they didn’t even come back to the table.

Fans of have been reaching out to everyone they can think of from Sony and CBS, even managing to get a hold of Y&R’s supervising producer John Fisher, who handles negotiations from the show’s side. The impression they got was Mishael left the table, and that’s contradictory to what you’ve stated today.
No, she did not walk away from the show. We felt that we were put in the position that we had no choice but to explore other options. In my opinion, there was no give or take. It was sort of a “take it or leave it” scenario. But for the record, the outpouring from the fans has been phenomenal. Mishael has been overwhelmed with just how much they adore her and treat her. My inbox has been flooded for weeks now. We really appreciate everything they’ve done and their support.

Do you think that the door would be left open for future negotiations?
I am always willing to take a person’s phone call. I would say that we parted ways amicably. So yes, I would take any calls that were made.

Are you able to speak on any potential future endeavors for Mishael that her fans should know about?
Not at this time, but I can say that there’s been lots of interest in her and a lots of opportunities that are coming in.

I want to go back to something you said earlier about the difference in negotiation processes with the other soaps. I know you also represent Jacqueline MacInnes Wood from The Bold And The Beautiful. Would you say that there’s a staunch difference between your contract negotiations for her with B&B verses Mishael at Y&R?

Photo Credit: Giles Toucas

Yes.

Would you attribute that to The Bold and the Beautiful not being owned by Sony?
Absolutely. My experience with The Bold and the Beautiful has been amazing because of Brad Bell. Everything goes through him and he’s always been fair and accommodating and is one of the best in the business. While they are very much a family owned operation,  The Young and the Restless, in conjunction with Sony, has a lot more people to answer to. It’s much more of a corporation with shareholders and sponsors and bottom lines. So, it’s run very differently.

We can tell.
Also for the record, I did a lot of investigating and I found out that, per my sources, a lot of the other cast on the show did not receive raises in their contract negotiations either. So it might be something specific to The Young and the Restless. It’s really hard to say what the process is. I’m in Canada, so the relationship up here with different ethnicities is completely different than in the United States. I know there’s a lot of movement on behalf of women and diverse actors, but I can’t believe that that would be the reason we were unable to come to a deal. I don’t know what the impact of Mishael’s leaving will have for future talks. If they lost ratings and fans, I think it would have whoever the executives are take a closer look at that because when they lose fans and ratings, that means they lose advertisements and sponsors. But we won’t know that until it plays out.

TV Source Magazine has been very vocal supporters of Mishael, and we don’t want to say or do anything that could hurt her chances of possibly returning in the future, but this situation bothered us all.
It should bother you, but I don’t want it to come across that we are blaming any one person or the show for this. Don’t take my words as an attack on The Young and the Restless. We would be happy to talk to them and discuss having Mishael go back. We certainly didn’t end our discussions acrimoniously.

Thank you so much for your time.
Anytime. Also I want to thank you and all of Mishael’s fans for all the work that you’ve done thus far. I haven’t been able to respond to all of the emails I’ve been getting but I have been forwarding the loving messages to her and she’s very appreciative of all the love and support.

We reached out to John Fisher with The Young and the Restless for a comment. As of the publication of this interview, we’ve heard no response.