Soap Opera Digest: How scary was it to find out that you had a problem with your eye?
Mishael Morgan: It was really scary and a little overwhelming because at the same time, my husband and I had decided we were going to renovate our bathroom. So, our bathroom was completely gutted. I had no symptoms whatsoever. I just went to a regular optometrist. I just wanted to get my contacts. I even wanted to find a way to weasel out of the exam, but the universe wouldn’t let me. So I went to the regular optometrist and she saw something and she said, “I’m going to send you to a specialist just in case. It may be nothing, but just in case.” I get my eyes checked pretty regularly because I do have a high prescription, but this had been the one time that I had maybe a two-year gap because I had just had my daughter. But I didn’t have any reason to think there would be any issues, and I thought if they did find something, it was probably what my sister had a few years earlier, a mild little retina tear. She went in and out in one day. I wasn’t going to be shooting until Friday, so I thought, “Maybe they can get me in and out this week, and we’ll be done.” And then I go to the doctor and he was like, “Yeah, so your retina is definitely detached and it’s close to the center of your eye and if it detaches any more, you could lose vision, you can go blind, so we have to take care of this right away and we have to get you into surgery in a day or two.” First of all, I don’t even have my contacts in or my glasses on, so I can’t even see the man who was telling me all of this because he’s sitting on the other side of the room, and I’m like, “This doesn’t even feel like real life.” But luckily, they were able to get in there and do the surgery. I called Tony [Morina, executive producer] right away and told him what was going on so he was very understanding. I was the one who was like, “Oh, my God, my storyline. I’m so bummed I’m not going to be able to do it. What’s going to happen?” and he was like, “Mishael, stop thinking about work. You have to go and take care of you.” He was really, really understanding. And then I got home to a gutted washroom and I told my husband, “Yes, I have to do this crazy surgery, and when I get out of surgery, I’m going to have to literally stare facedown for seven days in a special chair and I only get breaks every hour for 10 minutes.” So it was an interesting road to recovery. It was pretty intense. But then I got through it and everything was good.
Digest: Seven days must have felt like a long time.
Morgan: Yeah, seven days with two kids was really interesting. I was told it could be anywhere from a week to three weeks, and I was really thankful that it wasn’t three weeks, especially with my neck because I had broken my neck in a car accident and I had spinal surgery done, so just having my neck in that position was interesting. I thought I’d be able to sit there longer. I was like, “Oh yeah, it’s like a massage chair. It will be really relaxing.” No, it was not relaxing at all. It was very uncomfortable. But I read a lot of books. I did a lot of soul-searching. I meditated a lot. I really tried to take advantage of the time and look at it for the best it could be. And I looked at it as I really wanted to go to the spa for the longest time and then the pandemic hit and then you couldn’t do it, so I thought, “I’m just going to look at this as my quiet time.” And the kids couldn’t bug me because it was, “Mommy’s in the chair. You have to leave Mommy alone.” At the end of it, I think I came out feeling a lot stronger and energized to get back to the things I wanted to do. I’m part of the 5 a.m. club now, so I wake up at 5 a.m. every morning. It was something I wanted to do. It got me on schedule in this weird way because I had to schedule my day out to put my eye drops in, to do this, to do that and every hour I only had 10 minutes, so I literally had to time out what I could do. I was like, “Okay, I have 10 minutes. I can take a shower. I can change my clothes. I have to put my glasses on….” So everything became really regimented and because of that, I just decided, “I want to become a little more regimented. I want to get organized with the kids and be able to get up a little bit earlier so I get a head start on the day,” so it forced me a little bit to do that. And because I was off work for three weeks, I really got into the habit. Now that I’m back at work, I feel so proud of myself because my whole life has kind of changed for the better. And that’s what I love about times in my life like this; I have always found them to be very inspiring and [they] pushed me into my next phase of adulting.
Digest: Were you in pain? Morgan: I was in pain but I think I have a high threshold for pain. Anytime I had pain, I thought about the fact that I gave birth to two babies with no drugs and that just made me kind of relax, just reminding myself of the three days I was in labor with my son. I can get through anything. So it was pretty mild pain. I wasn’t struggling or anything.
Digest: Are you as good as new or is there still healing?
Morgan: Still a little bit of healing. I would say I’m at 98 percent. Visually, I look pretty much healed, but there’s still some healing going on inside.
Digest: How did you feel about Karla Mosley (ex-Maya, B&B) taking over the role temporarily?
Morgan: That was a bit of a hard pill to swallow at first. It wasn’t when I heard about Karla. I had just gotten out of surgery and then Tony contacted me personally and told me that unfortunately, they’re going to have to do a temporary recast because the story was already going, and my story was starting to get intertwined with other storylines, and Victor had just gotten introduced into my storyline, and it just kind of created a situation where they couldn’t back off the story now because it was already connecting to everybody else’s story. I kind of knew that and understood it, but I was hoping that I would be up on my feet and ready to go in two weeks, so maybe they could just push some of the shows. I was trying to work it out in my head that maybe it would be okay. And then when they said that they had to do the temporary recast, I felt really sad for a second, but I said a prayer. I think everything happens for a reason, and at the end of the day, I’m so lucky to be okay and my kids are healthy and safe and there’s nothing to be upset about. I think I just wanted to know that somehow this was meant to be and whoever was taking over my role would appreciate it because I put so much work into this role so far, and I just want it to go to somebody who can do it justice and appreciate the opportunity, even though it’s just for a short period of time. And then it felt like it was just a couple of hours later that Karla texted me and sent me the sweetest text and told me that she was going to be stepping in for me and I was so thankful. And when she wrote me back, she told me she was 25 weeks pregnant and was hoping for something like this and really needed something like this right now and she was so grateful that it had come around to her and she’s going to do her best to do it justice. It was everything that I needed. I was so grateful in that moment. And as soon as I heard that and as soon as we chatted, all my worries just melted away and I just felt so content and happy, and I could really focus all of my energy back on my healing.
Digest: She’s a fan of yours.
Morgan: She is so sweet. I think we had a random, five-minute conversation at a Daytime Emmys years ago at the bar having a drink, and we’d see each other in the hall-way every now and then and we’d say hello, but we really didn’t know each other very well. And then after she left, she left me the sweetest card and then we texted a few more times and we’re committed to getting our kids together and maybe doing a beach day or something. We’re going to do that soon, so I think this has created a really great beginning of a new friendship. It was weird to think about it this way, but it’s very intimate to play a character, and then to think that she stepped in for my character, in this weird way, I feel it’s bonded us and I’m excited to start our new friendship, so we’ll see.
Digest: Did you tune in to watch her?
Morgan: No, because I literally went from recovering to right back into the show and we just hit the ground running. As soon as I started back, that was the week she started airing, so I was playing catch-up. I’m hoping to get sent a couple of episodes and I’ll get to take a look. It’s weird. I had this thing where I didn’t know if I wanted to see her in the role or not. I didn’t want it to change how I came back and attacked the character, but I also wanted to know what she did at the same time, so that if she played a scene differently than I anticipated that at least I would factor that in to what I was going to be doing when I came back. But I don’t know, it just didn’t work out. But I felt really happy that she was able to step in. She is so seasoned and she has been in this world for a long time, so I had so much faith that she would do an amazing job and it seems like she has. Every single person has told me that she’s been awesome. When I was talking to Bryton [James, Devon], he was like, “For somebody to step in and say the amount of dialogue that you say, Mishael? You’re not like every other character — your character talks and talks and talks.” So he said she came in and there were chunks and chunks and she just knocked it out of the park and she was able to get through it all.
Digest: How were your co-stars through this? Did you hear from them?
Morgan: I did. I heard from a lot of them while I was away. But the one that I was so shocked to hear from was actually Eric Braeden [Victor]. I don’t work with Eric that often, but he has personally come up to me a few times and told me that he’s really enjoyed my work. We had a scene and Karla had stepped in and he called me that day, just concerned about what was going on with me. He just wanted to let me know that I’m definitely missed and don’t worry about being replaced, you’re not replaced, and I was like, “Thank you so much.” He was so sweet and that was one call that I was not expecting. And I was super–flattered.
Digest: Who would have thought that when you were growing up and watching Y&R that you would have Victor Newman calling you personally?
Morgan: That’s exactly what I was thinking when he was talking to me! I’m like, “Who would have thought that Victor Newman would be calling me on my personal cell phone in real life?”