Since 2013, Mishael Morgan has been making an impression on TV audiences everywhere with her role as Hilary Curtis on “The Young and the Restless.” Through the actions of her troubled character on the daytime soap opera series, Morgan managed to craft a performance that elevated the character into a dimensional and complex figure that audiences latched onto and identified with. After her character’s death in 2018, Morgan returned to the series as Amanda Sinclair, where once again she became a fan favorite.
After leaving the show full time again, the actress has kept herself busy. Popping up on NBC’s Chicago Med, and filming several movies slated to premiere this year and 2024. One of those being BET +’s Sworn Justice: Taken Before Christmas.
We caught up with Mishael to discuss the movie, working with the legendary Vivica A. Fox and making Daytime Emmy history.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity purposes.
Daytime fans, certainly miss seeing you on their screen but you have been booked and busy, what was it about Sworn Justice that made you sign on.
Mishael Morgan: I just knew when I took some time off from Y&R [The Young and The Restless] and decided to move down to recurring on the show that I wanted to come back Toronto and spend some time with my family. But I also wanted play different characters and really stretch myself as an artist. I told myself I wanted to be strategic and do things outside of the world of daytime and my agent sent me this script and said they really want you to do it. I wasn’t sold on it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a Christmas movie, I thought it would be the same kind of pacing as Y&R and I wanted to try and do something different. He was okay I understand, then he read the script, and was telling me to read it but I was putting it off, I had so many things going on. Then I finally read the script, within the first page or two I was like this isn’t your typical Christmas movie. As soon as I saw the action, and how different the character Sophie Porter was, I knew it was something I’d never done before and that’s what I was looking for.
When I saw the trailer, I immediately thought, this is the Black Die Hard. There’s always the debate each year is Die Hard a Christmas movie or not.
Mishael Morgan: It really does toe the line of is this a Christmas movie or is this an action film. And I think it’s a cool place to be in because not a lot of movies do that. A lot them are either a Christmas movie, Christmas love story, family Christmas movie, or it’s an action movie. It’s fun to be in that little niche market and do something different.
What is Sworn Justice: Taken Before Christmas about?
Mishael Morgan: I play Sophie Porter; she is undercover detective who has just been reprimanded and put on desk duty because of some questionable things she has done in the past with some of her other undercover cases. She’s not too happy about it and her life is changing, she’s in a different place, she’s having a difficult relationship with her mother and she’s starting a new romantic relationship [with D.A. Ty Jarrett, played by Leland Martin] and she’s not sure where it’s going. Then on Christmas Eve she gets a call that Ty has been kidnapped. She decided to go on this journey to hunt down the people who kidnapped him, and in that journey, she finds out it’s connected to some of her old cases.
You got to work with an icon, Vivica A. Fox, how was that experience?
Mishael Morgan: Vivica actually plays my mother [Laila Porter] in the film. We had some great conversations talking about how we have so many similarities, we were both bartenders/servers before we got into acting, we were both on Y&R where we both played love interest to Neil Winters [played by the late Kristoff St. John] on the show and we just connected with our backstories and work ethic. I think when you come from the soap world, you are a specific work ethic because you work really quickly, you come to set and it’s about getting the job done and she’s totally in that place. It was really surreal that Vivica A. Fox, who I have been watching my entire life in these major films is now playing my mother.
Could Sworn Justice’s story continue pass this film?
Mishael Morgan: There is that potential, they wrote it with that in mind. It ends with a little cliffhanger to keep the doors open for a possible, sequel, prequel, whatever it may be. We hope it resonates with people which is something that is always in the forefront of my mind. Making sure the characters I play resonates with people, hopefully everyone loves it, and we get a chance to see Sophie Porter again.
In 2022, you made history as the first Black woman to win the Daytime Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, can you touch on that moment.
Mishael Morgan: Being the first Black woman to win in the lead actress category was so surreal, and so empowering and it felt so right. I just knew that it would impact the next generation. I remember growing up and watching all these women break glass ceilings in different mediums and I knew this could be something that really inspire little girls of all cultures to follow their dreams and know there’s no limit to how far they can reach, and they will be celebrated for it. That was a huge thing that I wanted to push, there is the potential to always grow to the next level, no matter your ethnicity but sometimes you don’t feel like you are celebrated for it. Sometimes you make it to that level, and nobody notices, or you make it to a different caliber of income, and nobody sees you. For me it was really special to say you are going to get there, people will care, and they will be excited for you, it will matter, and you will be celebrated. Winning the award really opened the doors for me to book the roles I have now. I didn’t win it the supporting category; I won it in the lead actress category, and it opened these doors to all these lead roles that I don’t think I would gotten or offered if I had not happened. I’m able to tell stories of women who look like me, and that means so much to me.
— Alli – Fly NAC Fly! ??????? (@Here4Sprina) June 25, 2022
Did that impact your decision to leave the show?
Mishael Morgan: As sad it was for me to downgrade my status on the show [The Young and the Restless] and go on recurring, it was really important for me to use this moment to see how far it could take me and see the stories I could tell and see the other characters that I can express that will resonate with people. That’s why I took that leap. There was so much going on in my life, there was a personal aspect to leaving as well as a professional aspect. I said okay I’m a lead, I have defined myself as a lead and people received it and celebrated me for it so I’m going to do the brave thing and say thank you so much for everything that I have learned on this show, but I’m going to take a little time and explore what it’s like to be a lead and to tell stories in that position to help push the needle forward when it comes to storytelling.
What else is on the horizon for you?
Mishael Morgan: I have a Hallmark movie called ‘Christmas with A Kiss’ that’s coming out on the Hallmark channel on December 3rd. Then I have a film that should be coming out around February and that’s a Tubi original. That one is a close story to my heart, the character is from Barbados, and I’ve never played a Caribbean character, I’ve always played an African-Canadian character, or an African-American character. I’ve never played a character that got me back to my roots being from the Caribbean [Trinidad]. So that was a really fun movie for me to do. Not only does the story give her a journey to reconnect with her roots, but it’s also reconnecting her with her love of fashion. It’s going to be called ‘Dressed for Success’ and I don’t have a date for that aside from it being in February.
Sworn Justice: Taken Before Christmas written and directed by Nicole G. Leier is streaming now on BET+.