When Dr. Bill Smith heard his daughter’s voice coming from the next room he was taken by surprise. He knew that she was in New York, yet here she was, talking to someone.
“It was her voice coming from the television,” laughed the Cullman physician. “It was almost bizarre.”
But it was Morgan, all right, coming over the air waves via a national television commercial for the Wendy’s Restaurant chain.
The 2002 graduate of Cullman High School was almost destined to become a star. She was exposed to the theatre from the time she could see above the back of the seat in front of her.
Her mother, Susan Smith, put thousands of miles on her odometer taking Morgan and her sister from Cullman to Birmingham to see plays, and to theatre camps in the summer.
At the age of 14, Morgan starred in her first play, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“Seeing her on stage made every mile and all those hours worth every minute of it,” declared her mom.
But her dad remembers an even earlier performance that is very close to his heart. “Morgan never missed a showing of “The Wizard of Oz” and by the time she was three she had memorized all the lines,” he reminisced. “She had Dorothy down-pat.”
“We were on vacation and I looked out on the balcony and there was Morgan, swaying back and forth, waving her arms in the wind and saying, ‘Dorothy, Dorothy, come back, Dorothy,” he laughed.
Later, he recalled seeing his daughter on a professional stage for the first time. “When you walk into the theatre and you see her bio on the brochure, then she walks out on that stage, it was nothing short of incredible.”
Morgan's family is understandably proud of Morgan’s accomplishments in The Big Apple.
The Smith’s always encouraged Morgan’s theatrical aspirations. “We had confidence in all our children and supported them in whatever they were passionate about,” said Dr. Smith.
“When she left home for Birmingham Southern I was apprehensive, even though I knew it was a safe campus,” said Susan. “Then when she left for NYC I knew that’s where she would have to be if she wanted this career, but I can tell you that it improved my prayer life considerably,” she laughed.
“Morgan has worked hard for this all of her life,” said Dr. Smith. “Words can’t express how incredibly proud we are of her. The most amazing thing about Morgan is her work ethic, she puts an extreme amount of effort into everything she does.”
As for Morgan, she tried not to get her hopes up after the try-out. “I went in and showed them what I could do – and felt good about it when I left,” she recalled. “My agent called later that night to confirm that I had gotten the part and I had to take a seat for a few minutes, but after I recovered I danced around my apartment for about two hours,” she laughed.
“Of course the first person I called was my mom, then my dad and my sister,” she said.
When Susan first heard the news from Morgan, she went out to her local Wendy’s (in Birmingham) and bought $50 worth of hamburgers to distribute to her friends at work. “I think I told everyone in there that I was her mother,” she laughed.
Morgan couldn’t divulge much at that point because of a confidentiality agreement, but they did know that this was something really big.
“I’m still on cloud nine,” said Susan. “I always knew she was very talented and very driven, and although some of it is being in the right place at the right time, Morgan has worked very hard for this for a long time.”
“It’s funny, but until she got the part in this national ad campaign I never paid much attention to commercials,” laughed Susan. “Since she has been involved in this I have had so many touching calls from other people who were so excited to see her on television.”
Morgan also started receiving a lot of texts and tweets from old college friends and people she hadn’t seen in a long time.
It wasn’t long after the commercial aired that she had her first experience of being recognized on the busy streets of New York City. “I was walking 33rd St. and 3rd Ave. when a guy called out ‘Hey, Red’,” said Morgan. “I thought he was just referring to my hair color, but then he said ‘Hey, wait a minute, you’re on the new Wendy’s commercial’, and then he yelled out the tag line, ‘Now that’s better!’
And this isn’t the extent of Morgan’s latest news; she also has a part in an upcoming episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, slated to air this fall. (Morgan plays the part of Bernice in Episode ‘309’ due to be aired in the new fall season).
“I got to work with some incredible actors, directors and producers on that set,” said Morgan.
“I’ve also had a great time working on the commercial. I’ve gotten to develop the character of a regular consumer who really loves the product,” Morgan explained. “This is a dream job, and I’m having a really good time.”
She now splits her time between Los Angeles and NYC. “I go to LA about twice a month for five days,” she explained.
Although she is now part of the ‘jet set’ Morgan hasn’t forgotten her roots. When people ask where she is from, she proudly answers, ‘Alabama!’
“I miss being close to my family here , and my schedule is so busy that I don’t have more than a couple of days to spend at home occasionally,” she said. “I miss the sense of community in Cullman — the people are really special.”
For now Morgan will continue to concentrate on her career. She has several irons in the fire, but the most important thing is the new Wendy’s campaign, which has opened several doors for her.
“I’m honored to be trusted to represent this product, and grateful for the opportunity. Everyone associated with the campaign has been so kind,” said Morgan. “I’m still kind of walking on air.”