The stone is what comes to mind when I think of Mishael Morgan, Emmy nominated portrayer of Hilary Curtis on The Young and the Restless. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare to her.
Morgan is arguably one of the crown jewels of Y&R. Value her as such. Run Mishael her money may not exactly be scripture but that is the energy for here and now.
TV Source reported Wednesday that Morgan and the CBS daytime serial drama were in the middle of contract negotiations that weren’t going well. Read between the lines and it’s about money and Morgan being properly compensated for her work. After nearly five years on the show in a stint that has included a Daytime Emmy nomination, appearances on The Price Is Right and part of the supercouple known as Hevon, she’s more than earned her praise and things. Alas, it doesn’t seem like the execs are quite convinced because rumor has it that Hilary may be killed off in a car crash if both sides can’t come to a deal.
Daytime Confidential later confirmed that Morgan is set to depart.
Soap Twitter wasn’t having it. Not on their watch.
Years of being a soap opera fan has made it crystal clear just how much others look down upon us all. It’s as if we’re somehow children who don’t realize that this is fiction. The question of why do you care so much is rarely asked of sports fans. They spend their income tax and rent money on tickets and wildly celebrate in the streets after a win. We simply watch from our homes and tweet our opinions but we’re often stigmatized as people who have no lives and are looking for any form of escapism. Watch the news in 2018 or just scroll social media and show me someone who isn’t.
We all need a distraction and the oldest medium provides a way for us to be entertained with our stories for a few hours out of the day and if you’re an actor or actress fortunate enough to build a following, you are crowned. To many of us, Morgan sits upon a very cherished throne.
We want Morgan and Hilary to remain a daily part of our lives because they’re lightning in a bottle. If both were to chuck deuces, it would no doubt be Hollywood’s gain. Her sheer talent and prime age make it more than possible that she’d follow in the footsteps of Justin Hartley and become the next big thing. Yet, from her recent interviews, she’s expressed being happy with her job and open to spending more time in Genoa City.
Victoria Rowell, another gem who breathed so much life into Drucilla Winters, also wanted to stay put when she left the show in 2007 amid contract and backstage drama. She told us many years ago that people of color in daytime weren’t being paid what they were worth. In fact, she told me herself when I interviewed her years ago. Certain folks don’t like Victoria because they think she’s too in your face, problematic and doesn’t abide by respectability politics. Her advocacy for more Black writers, producers and executives isn’t done the right way to detractors. Since around that time, Rowell has been tagged as crazy. But did she lie? Did Mo’Nique when she accused Netflix of low balling her? Did Viola Davis when she demanded to be paid like Meryl Streep if you’re going to keep calling her the Black version? No lies have been told, regardless of what you may think of the messenger. The truth doesn’t change. Women, especially Black women, are underpaid.
For many, the specter of Victoria and Dru still looms. She’s vindicated every time fans have to lobby for Black characters to be written with substance, dimension and not just seen once a week. Hilary Curtis came along and it felt as though a shift were taking place. She struck a chord with viewers, particularly Black women, in the way that channeled back to Dru.
Hilary is full on messy boots at her worst, a woman in love with Devon, rival to Lily and surrogate mother to Shauna. It’s a hat trick of complexities that Morgan pulls off with finesse. She’ll smile in one scene, curl lips in anger in another, remind us that she’s a grown woman still carrying scars from the past and put on her best Wendy Williams grin if it means she can spite Lily. Hilary at her best is a fleshed out character with nuance, a type of grace that another actress may not have amplified because it hasn’t always been written in the script. Morgan had to imbue Hilary with her humanity when the writers didn’t and that hasn’t gone unnoticed. The angry Black woman is such a worn trope and it is very much appreciated when our full humanity is represented.
Morgan’s absence will be felt. Hiring another Black actress in a few months won’t change that either since they are not interchangeable. You can’t just swap in one for another and pay her even less if it means a box is checked. The dynamic won’t be the same and contrary to popular belief, Black viewers don’t necessarily love all Black faces just because. I don’t like Neil and he was blessed by Dru but I’m sure he’s somebody’s favorite. Just like Lily has her die hards. Devon is also wildly popular. All of them aren’t for everyone and that’s the beauty of it all. They all have their unique strengths. Each of these characters have their supporters and at this time, I hope those that love Hilary will be heard.
May the Lord wrap himself around the mentions of the powers that be if they’re not.