Exclusive: Debbi Morgan Finally Talks About Her Hush-Hush Role on The Young and the Restless
There will soon be a lot of Harmony in Genoa City... and some folks won't like it one bit. Emmy-winning phenom Debbi Morgan — formerly Dr. Angie Hubbard on All My Children — will join The Young and the Restless on Friday, October 7 as the ne'er-do-well, drug-addict mother of Devon Hamilton (Bryton James). Fans are already familiar with Morgan's character, who was previously known as Yolanda when the role was played by Chene Lawson (2005-06). These days, Yolanda has gotten off the crack, named herself Harmony and has started a new life as a waitress in a Milwaukee diner. TV Guide Magazine went down to the Y&R set to chat with Morgan about her hot new gig and, of course, to fire off the million-dollar question: Will she and Peter Bergman (Jack) finally get around to that interracial love affair they weren't allowed to have 22 years ago on AMC?
TV Guide Magazine: You've always been a big Y&R nut, right?
Morgan: I have always loved Y&R! [Laughs] I always use to say to Victoria Rowell, "I hate you, Vicky! I wish they'd get rid of you so I could come on that show because you know they'd never have two black divas on at the same time! Or maybe you should go do Angie and I'll do Drucilla!" We used to laugh about that all the time. Who'd have ever thunk?
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about Harmony.
Morgan: It's so nice to step into a new pair of shoes. From the moment you see Harmony she's 180 degrees away from Angie. Angie was the earth mother. Harmony has a real edge to her and, unlike Angie, she is not an educated woman. She had no relationship with Devon from the time he was born. She was an addict who gave her child to the grandmother to take care of, and when the grandmother died, the boy fell into the foster care system. Now she's got her act together, or at least she's trying.
TV Guide Magazine: What brings her back to Genoa City?
Morgan: She has no idea what's been happening with Devon — that his father, Tucker [Stephen Nichols], is the son of Katherine Chancellor [Jeanne Cooper]. In fact, that's still a big secret in Genoa City until Phyllis [Michelle Stafford] puts the story on the Internet. Harmony sees the news on a customer's laptop while working at the diner and makes a beeline to Genoa City to reconnect with Devon. Needless to say, she doesn't get a warm reception. Devon's furious that she abandoned him and doesn't want anything to do with her.
TV Guide Magazine: What's Tucker's reaction?
Morgan: It's revealed that Devon was the result of a one-night stand between Harmony and Tucker. That night meant the world to her — Tucker was the love of her life — but it meant so little to him that he doesn't even recognize Harmony when they meet again. Not a clue! It's like a dagger through her heart.
TV Guide Magazine: And Mrs. Chancellor?
Morgan: [Laughs] Oh, she wants Harmony to stay in Genoa City for her own selfish reasons. She and Tucker are at odds and she wants to stick it to him! Ulterior motives, baby! And Harmony knows it. She's not that stupid! I just love that Jeanne Cooper. What a hoot.
TV Guide Magazine: How long has Harmony been sober? Does her druggie past remain a big issue here?
Morgan: I would say she's been clean for the last year or so and you see her on the phone, checking in with her sponsor. There are always those emotional triggers that are a danger when you're an addict and the rejection from Devon is a big one. But she's holding on and keeping strong. When you feel you're alone and have no love in your life you can so easily relapse, so this is harder than she could ever imagine. But she's determined to stay and keep fighting in hopes her son will someday accept her.
TV Guide Magazine: What's with your character's name change?
Morgan: [Executive producer-head writer] Maria Bell told me she just hated the name Yolanda! And so, because Yolanda and Tucker both used to be in the music business, Maria came up with the name Harmony. The back story is that Tucker managed a rock band in the '80s and Yolanda was a groupie who followed the band around from city to city. She got pregnant by him and was afraid to tell him, so she went instead to the road manager who wound up offering her money to get an abortion. She was just livid! When she meets up with Tucker in Genoa City, he claims he had no idea the manager did that. She's not sure whether to believe him or not. She wants to believe she's not just a piece of something on the bottom of Tucker's shoe, but then he really goes after her, telling her she's a no-good mother.
TV Guide Magazine: So I guess we won't see Harmony and Tucker resuming any kind of love affair... or will we?
Morgan: Well, through all his anger she does find a moment of hope here or there, hope that maybe she did mean something to him. She thinks he protests too much! So I'm hoping we get to play with that a little bit more.
TV Guide Magazine: What about Harmony and Jack Abbott? When you and Peter Bergman tried a romance back on AMC there were so many complaints from the audience that Bergman wound up getting fired.
Morgan: Who knows? [Laughs] Maybe Harmony will turn out to be the black Erica Kane! People have already been connecting the dots and are assuming that Harmony will wind up with Neil [Kristoff St. John]. It'd be really great if we went somewhere unexpected. That was such a thing with Peter back in the day! AMC was getting all that hate mail and we knew they'd have to break up Cliff and Angie and that one of us would be out of a job. I just assumed it would be me, but it was Peter! He had just bought an apartment in New York. His wife was pregnant. I was so shocked they did that to him. But then one day Peter calls me from Los Angeles and says he's going to an audition to be Terry Lester's replacement on Y&R and I said, "Peter, do not walk to that audition. F--king run! It will be the role of a lifetime!" [Laughs] He tells that story to this day!
TV Guide Magazine: Why did you jump to another soap so quickly? You are one of the rare few in daytime who has also juggled major films and primetime, too. Why not see what else is out there?
Morgan: Being a woman in this business, being of a certain age group, being an African American, the jobs just aren't there for me in big numbers. Although right after I signed a two-year deal with Y&R, my manager got a call that there was interest to have me play opposite Denzel Washington in the movie Flight, which is shooting from October to December. [Laughs] The timing could not have been worse! But you know what? I'm OK with it, because I wasn't going to turn down a part like this on the No. 1 soap! Maybe if I was in my twenties or my thirties I might have held out. But not now. I took this job before it was announced that AMC was going to the Internet and now people ask me if I regret not staying there. Absolutely not! This is business.
TV Guide Magazine: And, as you know, these shows would drop you like a hot potato if it suited them!
Morgan: [Laughs] Ain't that the truth! On my first day at Y&R, I ran into Jacob Young in the hallway at CBS. We'd done AMC together and he just went to The Bold and the Beautiful. I jumped up into his arms and we just howled and howled with laughter at the craziness of it all!
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