Soap Opera Digest: After you left GL in 1995, aside from Dylan’s occasional visits, you kind of dropped off the acting map.
Morgan Englund: After GUIDING LIGHT, I moved to L.A. when my kids were young and I was a single dad. I tried to make a career in country music and flew to Nashville a lot, but finally said, “I’m not going to go on the road. I’m going to raise my kids because they need their father right now.” That turned out to be the right decision and led me into really changing my whole life. I wanted something steady that my kids and I could be proud of, so that led me to first-responder type of work and ultimately to the fire department. I was a paramedic for four years and then I joined the fire department at 41 years old. I’m 53 now, but when I turned 50, I really wanted to get back into my music. I came from a highly musical family, but I never even considered that I would be able to do it even nearly as well. I did have a secret dream and that was to play guitar and sing, so I decided to really give it a try now.
Digest: What inspired you to do that?
Englund: My kids. My daughter, Anabel, is singing all over the world and that’s just going to get bigger, which is phenomenal. My son, Jackson, is even more talented in terms of his musicianship. I see the talent in them and I know that didn’t come from their mother, so that must be in me. Then I was like, “Well, when are you going to take your best shot? Because the window is narrowing for you to do that.”
Digest: How did that go?
Englund: It was an interesting process. I wanted to do something artistically and be able to say unconditionally, “This is me.” For the last five years, I had been writing and rewriting a firefighter song called “Homeward Bound”. I’m really proud of it. I’ve released it on Apple Music and Spotify. And then I plan to go on tour. There are other songs that I want to write and record, but I’m shooting a video for “Homeward Bound”. I was able to raise the money to cover production costs and I plan to debut the song and video in concert with the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation, a charity that benefited me when I was with the department, to raise money and awareness for their amazing cause.
Digest: Do you have any regrets about leaving firefighting behind?
Englund: I don’t, and that’s not how I live my life. I don’t want to have regrets. I didn’t stay to get my pension. I would have had to wait till I turned 61 to get even 50 percent, so I definitely didn’t follow the road more traveled.
Digest: Are you doing performances right now?
Englund: Yes, I’ve been performing around L.A. People can keep track of my career by going to my website, http://www.morganenglund.com/.
Digest: Do you get recognized as Dylan?
Englund: I have GUIDING LIGHT fans who knew me from back then who have seen me perform. That’s been really cool.
Digest: Are you in touch with any GUIDING LIGHT peeps?
Englund: I just talked to Melissa Hayden [ex-Bridget] yesterday, because she’s hopefully going to be involved in some way with the video. We connect every couple years and want to do something together. And every time I see Kim [Zimmer, ex-Reva], we’re right back to where we were before, so there’s a lot of love there. I loved working with her and Jordan [Clarke, ex-Billy]. Maureen Garrett [ex-Holly] and I have also exchanged messages recently.
Digest: How do you look back at your soap days?
Englund: As a great experience. GUIDING LIGHT didn’t hire just any people; [they cast] mostly theater actors, like [the late] Michael Zaslow [ex-Roger]. They were amazing actors to work with. I feel very fortunate.
Digest: What did your mother, Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman, think when you stopped acting to become an EMT?
Englund: She’s always felt that I never had the shot that I should have had or could have had.
Digest: Do you feel that way, too?
Englund: Yeah, I do. I think I spent a lot of my life trying to show people that I’m just a normal person, because I felt there was a perception of who I was and what my life was like, because of my mom. Even in the fire department, the guys thought I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth and had someone driving me around everywhere. I guess the point is, I was always apologizing for myself, but I’m not that person I was years ago. I want to find out who I really am.
Digest: You also have a 3-year-old daughter!
Englund: Yeah, Lucy. She’s adorable. She is, of course, the love of my life. I couldn’t believe it when I found out from my girlfriend, Jodie, that was going to happen. Sometimes, I still can’t! I was 50 and had already raised my kids, so I thought I was done. But I couldn’t love her more.