The ongoing protests championing a change in systemic racism have reverberated around the world. Across all facets of life – business, education, philanthropy, sports and even film and television. A reassessment of the past and future is being demanded. If you are in search for an example, one need look no further than Riverdale star Vanessa Morgan calling out Hollywood’s institutional racism and the lack of fulfilling roles that actors of color are offered. Just three months ago, such a public proclamation may not have occurred.
If you are looking for an example of that change. One need look no further than Doris Morgado. Through her roles and projects, the actor/producer is pursuing the change many want to see in the industry. Case in point, her most recent projects Red Winter and Space Command.
Ms. Morgado took time out to chat with ‘LLERO about Red Winter, film production in the COVID-19 era and why there is still plenty of work required to make the industry more equitable for all!
‘LLERO: Thanks for taking to take to the time to chat with us. You have a few projects in the pipeline. Chief among them the film Red Winter. This film is striking as the cast are all persons of color. They are not placed your typical setting nor are the characters one-dimensional sidekicks’ actors of color are often relegated to.
Doris Morgado: That was the biggest thing for the producers, Errol Sadler and Marcus Smoot. They are very adamant about creating projects that are not your typical movies in the sense of this will have a white lead. They wanted something out the norm. The premise of the film is a group of couples who are newlyweds’ vacation in Colorado. That region in the winter – it’s a playground for snowmobiles. The couples visit to rekindle their relationship when they stumble upon a murder and are forced to fight for their lives. Typically, folks would imagine white couples in that setting. The producers grabbed that script and asked why can’t couples of color be in this setting? That’s why I fell in love with it and came on board as a co-producer as well.
‘LL: It seems like the film puts all the stereotypes an audience is accustomed to on their back.
DM: The top six leads of the movie are of color. But even behind the scenes the crew are persons of color. It’s a fun movie, but it’s great to have that perspective. This movie breaks every single stereotype you could imagine. Our characters are well off. Tons of money [who] want the best or everything. From accommodations to snowmobiles. Even my character [Ashley] is like this glam snow bunny. Not the typical help or supporting role you would see.
‘LL: When can readers expect to get a first look at Red Winter, especially given how the pandemic has altered all release dates?
DM: We are aiming to have it ready for submission to Sundance. It’s such a great script and shows a narrative we are missing right now. Which are strong leads that are people of color who can carry a movie. Now, whether Sundance gets pushed back because of what’s happening. That’s a different story [Laughs].
‘LL: Speaking of what’s happening, i.e., the pandemic. The industry has come to halt in production. How do you see things going forward?
DM: We finished production on Red Winter literally four days before the shut-down. So, we were fortunate. But a lot of people are still producing. I’ve already shot two projects while in quarantine. One is sci-fi show called Space Command. It was written with this scenario in mind. My scenes are with my fiancé, but we are set in different parts of space. So, we communicate via futuristic facetime [Laughs]. All the actors had wardrobe shipped to them and we shot in our homes with green screen and the background will be CGI’d in post-production. It was incredible.
‘LL: Speaking of Space Command. It appears once again you are part of a project with characters of color in a not so average setting. Is the show in that same vain?
DM: It’s a wonderful script. It takes place in the 2060’s. We’ve colonized Mars. It’s another great example, my character is Hispanic and a Lieutenant pilot commander. I’m actually above my fiancé’s character in rank. It’s something the producers were adamant about. It’s a web series and the first episode is about to air soon.
‘LL: It seems that once we get past one set of challenges, a new one is upon us. In this case it has come in the form of the protests. As an industry insider. Do you feel any real change will come from this in the industry or will it just move on to the next news cycle?
DM: I would like to say yes. My hope is that, yes, this will trickle down and there will be a change. It will be inevitable. Some will do so to legitimately help. Some will do so because it’s an opportunity to make money. Whatever, your motive is, as long as it shines a light on it. Unfortunately, humans have a short memory. So as long as the next shiny thing appears it may not last. Especially given the short attention spans and instant gratification that people desire. Add to that the overload of information, people get numb and over things faster.
As actors I saw this a lot with the LGBTQ community. When they lobbied hard for their rights. We saw a huge influx of auditions for those roles and for that community. And you could sense it, alright something is happening, change is happening, and it trickles down. With roles being tailored for them. So my hope is that happens here.
‘LL: How do you think both, the pandemic and protests will effect story telling?
DM: It’s definitely moving people into a more creative space. Because they are stuck in their homes. Once we come out of quarantine and things settle down with the unrest, a lot of people are being affected by it in an emotional way and that will in turn bring out a lot of art. Because that is how we heal.
There is a quote someone sent me by Toni Morrison which resonates. It says, ‘This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.’ And it was so powerful because that is how we will be able to heal. For writers, for actors, for poets, for musicians to come out and to create an art form that is going to unite us and show us how to treat people. Because I think that’s what art does at the end of the day. Shine a light into what is going on in our world around us.
‘LL: Doris, we could not agree with you more.