A lot of actors may gush about how finding success in the crazy world of entertainment is a blessing, but when “The Young and the Restless’” Mishael Morgan (Hilary Curtis) says it, she means it — literally! And that’s because a horrific accident nearly ruined her chances at becoming a daytime star, or anything else for that matter. Soap Opera Network caught up with the actress to get the scoop on her near-death experience as well as how a lucky streak has landed her smack dab in the middle of the popular Genoa City father/son duo of Neil (Kristoff St. John) and Devon (Bryton James)!
Winning a breakout role on a soap opera is a once in a lifetime chance, but never in her life did Morgan ever think she’d be on a soap opera. In fact, acting was the furthest thing from the Trinidad native’s mind: After moving to Canada as a child, she focused on becoming on a lawyer and was even accepted into the University of Ottawa Law. However, her entire life completely changed in one second, when a horrible car accident left the then-19-year-old barely hanging onto life with a broken neck.
“That accident started making me think about acting more, because it was kind of something that I suppressed for many years,” she explains. “I wanted to do the logical route and be a lawyer and do all of the right things, make all the right decisions But then, after that accident, I just kind of rethought my entire life and I decided to just kind of take a go at it.”
Soon after recovering, the actress met her agent while bartending (which she was doing to pay for law school) and started booking jobs right out of the gate. “Basically, I was doing my undergrad and doing my LSATs at the same time, and I met my agent and… about 10 months into it, I booked a series regular role that was shooting out of Ottawa. I [had gotten] into law school, and I was totally going to go, and I just said, ‘You know, if something stops me from going to law school, it will be a sign.’ And then I booked my second series, ‘The Best Years’ two weeks before I was supposed to go to law school! So I called up Ottawa U Law and said that I wasn’t going to be attending, and that I was going to be a crazy actress!”
Fortunately, her decision to turn her back on the law has paid off: Not only is she currently starring on “Y&R,” but she also can be seen on The CW’s new series, “Backpackers,” which follows a recently engaged couple who try to conquer cold feet by taking separate backpacking trips through Europe. “It was such an awesome experience,” Morgan says of the filming process, which took her and her co-stars on a world adventure. “It was such a great shoot. It was a guerilla shoot. The director said it perfectly: ‘We are backpacking through Europe, just through nice hotels.’ Because that’s what it was. That’s exactly what it was like. We were in Prague, and then we were in Italy, and we were just kind of backpacking all around different areas and shooting on location in some of the most beautiful places in the world. It was just an awesome experience, and it felt like a real production of love. Everybody was doing their best to make it a great show… It was one of the best experiences I ever had.”
Funny enough, her “Y&R” gig came exactly at the time when her “Backpackers” shoot was ending, which made for quite the quick globetrotting transition! “I sent a self tape from Toronto down to CBS, and I didn’t hear anything for a while,” she explains of the “Y&R” audition process. “I was so caught up doing other auditions. I was working on ‘Supernatural’ at the beginning of that year, and I had just booked the role for ‘Backpackers’ so I was flying out to do that. And then one week before I was leaving, negotiations for my contract for ‘Y&R’ started. By the end of the week, I found out I got [the role of Hilary]. They didn’t want me to come down or test, I just went straight to tape when I came back the following month from ‘Backpackers.’ I flew out of France, I believe, and then went back to Toronto, and I had one day to pack two suitcases and then fly to LA and start working the next day. It was pretty intense!”
Especially because, as she explains, Hilary is completely different from her ‘Backpackers’ character, Maya. “They are complete polar opposites!” she enthuses. “My character on ‘Backpackers’ is a new age hippie. She’s very free spirited, she just kind of goes where the wind takes her. She loves exploring the world and traveling and everything like that, and Hilary is very A-type. The only thing that is similar is that Hilary did, after her mother died, she did take off and travel around Europe for a bit. That was said in the script, so it’s kind of funny in that way. But other than that, yeah, they are totally different. Hilary kind of has her whole life mapped out.”
Well, except for recently, as it seems that the Jabot Cosmetics expert doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going! “It’s a little sticky,” she says with a laugh over her character’s current indecision over whether she cares for Neil or his son, Devon, more. “I was talking on set to somebody [about how] it’s very interesting when you know you’re kissing two guys on the same day!
“It’s fun though,” she continues. “I try not to judge my character too much. I say, ‘Hilary is trying to find herself. She’s having a hard time.’ But it gets a little interesting when it seems to be the case many times. Right now, Hilary has already made out with Mason (Lamon Archey), Cane (Daniel Goddard), Jack (Peter Bergman), Neil and Devon!”
However, Morgan says the weirdness of Hilary’s current situation makes shooting her current scenes a breeze. “I do find it a little awkward, and I think that’s perfect, because it makes the scenes so much easier,” she explains. “Because I feel very awkward and uncomfortable standing there in front of both of them sometimes!”
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it — and it beats having ice water poured over hear head, which is what she gets from Lily (Christel Khalil)! “She’s so awesome though,” Morgan says of her off-screen friendship with her onscreen rival. “She’s such a giving artist and it’s so fun to be working opposite somebody doing all these crazy things or taking all of these crazy things that she does to me, like pouring a bucket of ice cold water on me, but just doing those things with someone who’s so open and giving and such a great artist, it makes it so much easier.”
In the midst of her “Y&R” drama and “Backpackers” hitting the screen, Morgan has another project on the way: A film called “Swearnet: The Movie” that should be coming out later this fall. “I play a PR associate [named Jamie],” the Trinidad native shares of the script. “She’s really new to the industry and she meets The Trailer Park Boys [who are very popular comedians in Canada], and she gets really excited because she says, ‘You know, I can help you guys start your own network,’ because that’s really what the movie is about, them starting their own network so that they can shoot whatever they want on it and they can have as many swear words as they want and as many crass jokes on it as they want. So they start their own network and the Jamie character just basically helps them push that publicly and get it before the eyes of many people. As that’s going on, she starts to realize that these guys are a little bit crazy and the things that they are trying to put on the network are a little bit ridiculous, but she starts falling in love with all of them as people, and there’s definitely a friendship that grows between all of them in the movie, and an accepting of their craziness.”
Morgan has a lot going on — “Y&R,” “Backpackers” and the film — but one thing you won’t catch the actress doing is singing! “I used to sing a little bit in high school, but I would actually get so nervous before I had to preform, it was like I was going to pass out,” she says with a laugh. “And I never performed anything bigger than just a showcase with my music school. But yeah, singing is just not for me. With acting, I kind of get those similar butterflies, but once I start acting, it goes away and I can kind of fall into the character, but singing, I just feel like I’m naked on the stage the entire time.”
Alas, she’ll be focusing on acting from here on out — but it doesn’t matter to her whether it’s comedic material or dramatic material. “I love both of them,” she states. “I always feel like with comedy, just the set in general is usually a lot freer and easygoing. And you’re just really exploring, because what’s funny to one person might not be funny to another person, so you’re just kind of really stretching those acting muscles when you’re doing comedy, because you’re trying all these things. And drama can be a little bit exhausting, because you have to get yourself to these really emotional places, which can be quite exhausting and stressful. But I love both of them for their own reasons. Drama just pushes you in such different directions, and it makes you feel things so deeply and live in the shit of life. And comedy allows you to live in the fun of life. So it’s like, best of both worlds if you can do both, comedy and drama at the same time.”
At the moment, her Genoa City material is pretty serious. But she can laugh about it, despite. “I really had no idea what they were going to do with Hilary after the whole vendetta against Neil ended, so just the fact that I’m here and exploring this amazing love triangle is such a blessing,” she says. “I never thought that I’d be making out with father and son, but that being said, I’m just enjoying the ride.”