These are bittersweet times for Debbi Morgan. The groundbreaking actress — daytime’s first black female superstar — is once again riding high on All My Children in the sudsiest of plots. Her character, Angie Hubbard, stopped taking crucial medication and allowed herself to go blind when she discovered she was pregnant, only to deliver a stillborn baby. Angie has no idea her child died because her hubby, Jesse (Darnell Williams), pulled a switch and gave her an abandoned newborn. Meanwhile, the baby’s real mother has been working as a housemaid in Pine Valley. This emotional time bomb has helped make Morgan a front runner in the best actress race for Sunday’s Daytime Emmys. Fabulous, right? But then there’s that damn cancellation. TV Guide Magazine spoke with the divinely dimpled diva about her shot at a second Emmy, the end of AMC and that report that said she’s moving to a Sony soap!
TV Guide Magazine: Congrats, my dear! Your first and last Emmy came in 1989, so you’ve been away from the podium much too long!
Morgan: I know! I’m over the moon with the nomination and so happy to be going out with such wonderful material, but the thought of never playing Angie again is too much to bear. To look back and realize I started playing her in the early ’80s — 30 years ago! — is such an emotional thing. So many young teenage girls now sit down to watch AMC with their moms, who are saying “I’ve been watching Angie since she was a young girl back in the day!” They’re learning about my character from their mothers! I’m looking forward to going on to other things. But it’s one thing when you make that decision for yourself, it’s another when that decision is made for you. [Laughs]Big difference!
TV Guide Magazine: Were you on the set the day the ax came down, or did you hear it second hand?
Morgan: That was a Thursday morning and I was on a plane flying back home to Maryland at 8 a.m. When I landed, I turned on my cell phone and had dozens and dozens of text messages. I’m like, “What the hell?” I open one, and it’s from my makeup artist at AMC saying, “Debbi, I cannot stop crying!” I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness, what happened? I hope she didn’t lose her job.” Then I walk out of the terminal and my husband is driving up. He gets out of the car before I can check the next text and grabs me and says, “Are you OK? I didn’t know how you would take the news.” I’m like, “Huh? What are you talking about?” And he says, “The show. You know your show got cancelled, don’t you?” I couldn’t believe it! I was, like, “What the F?” But I guess I wasn’t really surprised.
TV Guide Magazine: Why’s that?
Morgan: When all those cancellation rumors first came out and sort of lingered, I knew there had to be some truth in it, especially because the network never said anything to us. It wasn’t like ABC was denying it. I had it in my gut. But I never imagined it would happen so quickly. We knew the ratings were going down and that soaps aren’t what they used to be, but to be cancelled so suddenly, so fast? To have just three or four months to wrap things up was the part that was absolutely shocking. I thought maybe they’d give us a year. To think this is the end of Erica Kane! She’s an institution. It’s like the end of a dynasty. Doesn’t it seem surreal? [Laughs] Sometimes I wonder, why the hell do we do this? What are we thinking? As an actor, every time you lose a job you have this feeling like you’re never gonna work again. This is my last job! That’s always in your head.
TV Guide Magazine: But according to Deadline.com you have your next gig all lined up. You’re moving to one of the Sony soaps — The Young and the Restless or Days of Our Lives. Or so they say.
Morgan: I don’t know where that rumor got started. There are also rumors that Susan is going to Desperate Housewives.
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah, but this was more than a rumor, Debbi. Deadline.com, is a highly reliable site and claimed their info came from Sony Pictures TV president Steve Mosko. He reportedly wants to grab you and Jacob Young (JR) from AMC and Gina Tognoni (Kelly) and Josh Kelly (Cutter) from One Life to Live. You’re saying that’s not true?
Morgan: Well, if it’s true, why do you think nobody’s contacted me yet? My friends keep calling and saying, “I hear you’re going to Y&R” but I’ve never heard a word from Sony or anyone else about this. I swear there have never been any conversations!
TV Guide Magazine: Well, let’s say that offer does come through. Will you bite?
Morgan: I’d like to get back in the game again, and see what’s out there for me in terms of movies and prime time, but if I was ever going to do another soap, Y&R would probably be the only one. Not that there’s a lot left. This is all so bittersweet. There’s the Emmy nomination. I got to go on The Oprah Winfrey Show one more time before it ended. I’m going to be a spokesperson for this really great anti-bullying organization called Saving Our Daughters. I can’t complain. And, like they say, when one door opens…
TV Guide Magazine: Well, before it does, let’s talk plot. Where is this Angie story going?
Morgan: I know she will eventually get her eyesight back, but I have no idea how this baby story turns out. I’ll tell you one thing: I don’t want the birth mother reclaiming that child! Angie does find out that this really isn’t her kid but in terms of what happens with the real mother — Will she take the baby and run off? Will Angie keep the baby? — I just don’t know. Since we have so little time left with the show, they’ll want to end things on a happy note, so I’m thinking things are going to work out just fine.
TV Guide Magazine: What will Angie do when she find outs Jesse has been scamming her? Won’t she be pissed?
Morgan: [Laughs] Well, yeah, because what he did is against the law, actually. I get a lot of angry mail saying, “What Jesse did is a federal crime!” And he’s the chief of police!
TV Guide Magazine: Welcome to Pine Valley, baby!
Morgan: [Laughs] Welcome, indeed! It’s a crazy town! Darnell is always, like, “Wait a minute, now. Angie is the chief of staff at Pine Valley Hospital, and Jesse is the chief of detectives. Why are we living in this dump of a loft? What’s wrong with this picture?”
TV Guide Magazine: So Angie will just forgive him?
Morgan: Oh, I didn’t say that! [Laughs] Angie chose to go blind so she could delivery her child and then the baby dies! And there, conveniently, was an abandoned newborn. Jesse did what he did because he couldn’t stand to see Angie suffer and I know she’ll understand that. It’s hard to say what you’d do unless you walked in Jesse’s shoes. My character may indeed lash out at him, but there’s no way she won’t come around. Any kind of distance or separation, anything that makes her pull away, would have to be short-lived. [Laughs] And, let me tell ya honey, they ain’t putting my baby in jail! AMC ends in September but Angie and Jesse are forever!
So you’ve just read the whole Sony wanting Debbi thing was a rumor… 😦 But then again Deadline has always been on point so maybe, just maybe they are just waiting for the perfect time to approach our girl. Well uh… Sony it’s about time you approach her. Stop screwing around, pick up that dang phone and get in touch with this gem and her wonderful partner Darnell Williams. What the HECK are you waiting on?! Hello!
And something else, I totally agree with Darnell.A Chief of Staff and a Chief of Police, yet they have no house of their own. AMC! What the hell is your deal?! Give my couple a damn house before the show ends. Like they want a fresh start so Jesse buys a house so they can start on the path of forgiveness. Come on people…