From her hometown in Florida to the big screen, Natalie Morales grabs attention in the latest season of Apple TV’s The Morning Show.
In 2023, Natalie Morales has earned her way through the film industry; from numerous TV series to star-studded films that keep audiences entertained. A Miami native, being in front of the screen comes naturally to Natalie recently seen in the film, No Hard Feelings opposite Jennifer Lawerence. Currently, she is taking on the dramatic role in the buzzy Apple TV series The Morning Show where she is starring opposite Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Greta Lee, and Jon Hamm in a meaty arc that shows off her dramatic acting chops. From directing, writing, and comedy and drama Natalie does it all. We spoke with Natalie about The Morning Show, who she is, and what she hopes for in the future.
“As long as they keep letting me be in this business, I’m gonna keep trying to get away with making all the things I want to see in the world,” Morales says. One of the amazing things about the actress is her story, and how building a name in Hollywood came with no easy feat. “It can feel like you’re waiting for someone to give you the opportunity to do your art, which is very hard as an artist to always ask for permission; it gets frustrating.” After moving to LA, Natalie quickly realized she was a minority in a sea of aspiring creatives such as herself. “I did not grow up feeling like a minority, it was only when I came to LA that I noticed that people were looking at me for my skin color and not for who I was. That had never happened before.”
Since 2006 in her first professional acting credit, CSI: Miami, Morales has starred in numerous TV series and films throughout the years. Having recently been seen in “No Hard Feelings” featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Morales has carved her path beyond the noise and landed her recent project in season 3 of “The Morning Show”. Natalie knew her heart was in it before even reading the script, replying with an eager “Yes”, to take on the role as Kate Danton. “She is pretty much the opposite of me, but I try to stay expansive and take risks.” Noting how well the writing is in the script, Morales soon jumped in and got to preparing. “I think most of my preparation was really trying to do service to the writing. I actually was filming some of this at the same time as No Hard Feelings and it was interesting to go between the two.”
As for her new project, “The Morning Show”, Morales is ecstatic. “Everyone’s so awesome. The crew, the actors, everyone was so welcoming.” Joining the star-studded cast, the show is centered on an inside peek within the lives of people who help America wake up in the morning, exploring the unique obstacles faced by the men and women who carry out this daily televised ritual. Natalie’s confidence is unwavering and from what she’s filmed so far, she isn’t backing down. “I think sometimes we don’t even know what we’re capable of, so why not find out?”
Staying true to her values in Hollywood is something that can be a challenge, especially as a queer woman who takes risks while falling forward into projects that are valuable. “I try not to be pigeonholed because of my sex, gender, race, or ethnicity. It’s not easy because people want to pigeonhole you. They want to categorize you. You’re apparently difficult to market when you can do more than one thing. But I don’t think that’s true.” In 2017, Natalie came out as queer, inspiring a generation of kids to know they’re not alone, even if it feels scary. She understands things are still a work in progress in the film industry, but the actress doesn’t like to label herself, it’s just who she is.
As Morales’s career continues to thrive, the comedy actress has already been in the director’s chair and describes her style of art as, “absurd and full of heart”. Her resume doesn’t only have actress written on it, but the star has directed stage and sketch comedies, music videos, and more. Being a multi-faceted creative in her own right has shown Natalie who she is, at the core of being a true artist. Working on The Morning Show, she understands that as an actor, Natalie may have a different vision in her mind of what a character could portray into, but at the end of the day, she trusts her directors. “They’re the best of the best”. Early on in her career, Natalie remembers parting ways with a talent agency that didn’t seem to see eye-to-eye with how she viewed herself. After the agency refused to set up meetings in the directorial department, Morales deemed this wouldn’t be a good fit for her. Even when she offered money, they were reluctant and unsupportive. Not too long after, Natalie was offered an amazing opportunity to direct an episode of Room 104, an HBO anthology series, founded by Mark and Jay Duplass.
Natalie came into the first production meeting with many ideas. While Mark had mentioned to her she had only two days to shoot it, Natalie was headstrong in her approach towards the episode. “I knew what I was doing.” Next, the star directed the Hulu film, Plan B, a comedy story of two best friends searching for the Plan B pill. “At the time, I wasn’t getting cast in things, so I thought I should start writing and making my own stuff.” Once Natalie got the hang of directing, the actress knew she was great and felt this was something worth exploring into. When hiring actors and crew, “I want everyone to feel excited about what they’re doing and not as if they’re micromanaged. They are fully able to express themselves.” Being an actress herself, Natalie understands how intimidating production sets can feel. She explains that sometimes the energy on set can feel off and everyone goes home tired. Looking at the brighter side of life, “Why not make great art that we feel happy about at the end of the day”, she says.
For Natalie’s future goals in her career, she’s looking forward to putting out her independent projects. “I want to continue to write/direct/act on my own things. I have a lot of projects with my best friend and sometimes writing partner Cyrina Fiallo. I’d love to see them come to fruition. Experimenting with different roles and being open keeps her flexible. Since being in the business for a while, Natalie feels she’s broken down enough walls where she’s able to be more picky about the roles she chooses. Learning to trust her intuition and not what others may want from her has kept her on her own two feet. “I just try not to make myself small. I’ve evolved the most by having my own back every time.”