TRINIDAD and Tobago-born Mishael Morgan has created entertainment history as the first black woman to win an Emmy award for best lead actress in a drama.
Morgan, 35, who was born in San Fernando, plays the role of Amanda Sinclair on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless (Y&R).
In her acceptance speech at the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, held on Friday night, she said, "I was born on the tiny island, Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean and now I'm standing on an international stage, and I am being honoured regardless of the colour of my skin. Regardless of my passport, for being the best at what I do."
She said there are now little girls all around the world seeing another step forward, knowing despite their industry of choice or vocation, they strive to be the best at what they do.
She continued, "Not only will they achieve it, but they will be celebrated for it."
Morgan is in her second stint on Y&R. She first joined the soap in 2013 and stayed until 2018. She returned in 2019 as a different character.
In a Newsday interview in October 2021, Morgan spoke about her ties to TT, although she and her family left to live in Canada when she was five.
She said fate led to her decision to forgo her plan to be a lawyer after an accident while visiting TT for Christmas when she 19.
“It’s like I was born in Trinidad and reborn in Trinidad," she said then.
Morgan sustained a broken neck and had a long stay in hospital, during which time she re-evaluated her life.
“I had wanted to be an attorney my whole life, but I just felt that it was also just my parents’ path too because I always had this hidden love for acting, and I realised I would regret not doing it if I really was paralysed. I talked to God and what I said is, ‘If you give me another chance and I get to walk again, the one thing I’ll do is try,’ because I literally heard a voice that said, ‘You never try.’”
After her recovery, Morgan returned to Canada and began acting in episodic and feature films. She has appeared in many shows, including the Canadian teen series The Best Years and Family Biz. She was also featured in Trey Songz’s Wonder Woman music video.
When she moved to US she landed her first role on Y&R as the character Hilary Curtis who was killed off. However, she turned to the show as Hilary's twin sister, Amanda, a criminal lawyer.
“So my dream did come true. I’m a lawyer – but this way it’s more fun because I don’t have to worry about the consequences of losing a case or doing all that paperwork. I just have to act like I know what I’m doing,” she said.
Morgan told Newsday although she may be thought of as a glamorous soap opera star, off-screen she is a down-to-earth and very easy-going person.
“You know, soap operas are the beautiful medium. Everyone just wakes up with hair and makeup intact. I drive into the set with my hair in a bun and they have to curl and fix it…I use press-on nails, pop my eyelashes in and I’m a different person. It’s like a costume because in everyday life I don’t wear makeup and I wear my hair natural…I’m so low-maintenance in that respect.”
Morgan is married to actor Navid Ali and they have two children.
Last August, she paid tribute to her 96-year-old grandmother, Maria "Shooney" Forgenie, who died on July 23.
She shared a photo via Instagram of Forgenie, and referred to her as a "true Trini Queen," the strongest woman she knew, and said that she was honoured to be her granddaughter.
Newsday learned that her grandmother grew up and lived in Basse Terre Village, Moruga where she ran a shop for many years.
An obituary said Forgenie, nee Lee, died in Florida. She was the grandmother of 42, great-grandmother of 74, and great-great-grandmother of ten.
She was the sister of well-known San Fernando-based businesswoman Semoy Marcelline Attong, 88, who died on April 21 last year. Attong, who also grew up in Basse Terre, was the matriarch of the popular Charlie’s Black Pudding outlets.