Lamorne Morris interview: ‘Woke’

“We live in a world now where people are opening up more to conversations about race” explains “Woke” star Lamorne Morris. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “A show like this blends in comedy and absurdity. At the end of the day it’s a conversation starter. Right there along pushing that message forward, we also want people to laugh.”

In the Hulu series, Morris plays cartoonist Keef Knight. After being racially profiled by a cop, he becomes more “woke” to issues of race. He stops avoiding controversial statements and starts to see objects (like his pen) talk to him. Keef soon discovers the challenges faced by artists who choose to make political statements. Morris reflects that “art is open for interpretation. With the culture that we live in now – twitter culture, instagram culture, social media culture in general – the message can be skewed. In can have legs and carry on for miles. Before you know it, you’re this psychopathic artist that people are taking about. You didn’t even get a chance to explain yourself. So be careful out there all you artists!”

The ‘Black People For Rent’ episode highlighted this challenge where Keef puts out a fake flyer hiring black people to trendy social events. The actor confesses, “If I saw it for real I would need to speak to the artist. On the surface of it all, ‘Black People for Rent’ is driving a message that sometimes people love our culture but they don’t want to live in our shoes. But not everybody feels that way. If you watch it in the show, some people were taking it quite literally. Some people were taking it back to slavery. Some people were asking ‘how much?’ It was a powerful episode.”

Another episode, ‘Prayers for Kubby,’ saw a bus full of people concerned about the injustice in the shooting of a Koala by the police. Morris says, “Although it’s very tragic the killing of an animal, they were comparing it to the senseless murders of certain people like Trayvon Martin. They have ‘Trayvon, George and Kubby’ on the same placard. That was definitely my favorite episode. As an actor you are dealing with stuff in your personal life. That week I had a lot going on in my personal life and it lended its hand to how my character was supposed to feel”

Keef being a cartoonist provides a meta take on the role of artistic expression in bringing attention to these issues. The actor reveals, “There is a time in our history where you had to go to certain places to see black art. We weren’t represented the way we felt like we should have been. TV, film and the art world didn’t mirror what society actually looked like. A lot of times mainstream folks didn’t want to hear our environment. For me, as an actor, sometimes when you write and create you feel the weight of the people really that really bust their ass to get in this industry. Media can drive the way we view people. When you are a black performer you want to set the record straight. We all have families and children who will grow up and continue to carry that burden of believing what the media said about us is true. We want to create our own narrative from a place of truth. Not from a place of racism, stereotypes or ignorance. Personally, I like carrying a message sometimes of being a black weirdo, because we are all things. For us, it’s kind of like setting the record straight.”

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UPLOADED Dec 15, 2020 2:06 pm