For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed actor-director-writer-producer Morgan Millogo. Morgan spent five years as part of the Seattle Indie film scene as an actor and director, and was also a burlesque performer and emcee. Her recently released web series Tabs & Clea marks her first project as a writer, actor, director and producer since the passing of her father in 2010.
Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.
I just released my web series Tabs & Clea about a psychic going through a crisis of faith and her audacious ex-roommate showing up to help uncover the truth of a tragedy that was unforeseen. It’s six short episodes, which can all be found at tabsandclea.com.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
Tabs & Clea is an exploration of spirituality and death. What we get to know, what we don’t get to know, how there are reasons and a plan beyond our understanding. Being a spiritual person who does ancestral work and works with spirit guides, I have learned that even those of us who are in tune and work to help people, don’t get to know everything. Also, we aren’t always meant to save people, which is a harsh lesson for any hero journey and something that I wanted to explore with Tabs. How can you have a gift that is meant to help people, and death can still result? What is it like to have a spiritual gift and go through a crisis of faith?
I decided to make a web series because I had an acting partner to play Tabs, and I initially was going to play Clea, until I discovered I was pregnant. I knew I could pull off making and completing this series with next to no money. I also have a love for television and decided this would be a fun, doable experience. I’ve made short films and I’ve worked on independent feature films. A web series format was exciting to embark on and there was a great freedom to allow the episodes to be the length that felt organic to each individual one.
With all of my limitations and resources in mind, I wrote the series to fit what we could do. The majority of the scenes take place in the same location that I had access to, and I used the support of friends and family and local businesses to make the little things happen, such as DIY lighting, meals for the shoot, and art direction. The cast and crew came together based on everyone reading the script and wanting to do it. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who donated their time, energy, resources, talent and skills to tell this story.
Q: In this current time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, what do you believe your role is in this moment?
There are dual roles happening: an individual role and community role. For myself, I was laid off in April because of COVID and have been spending the months since running my household, doing deep work on myself, and looking for a job. My understanding is that this is my time to transform and evolve into the next chapter of my life. It is time for me to step up and embrace my dreams head on and not to give up. As a storyteller, I have a lot to offer this world, and I need to truly own and trust that.
For my community role, being a true ally is my current focus. Within the work I do, I fight for diversity and inclusivity, and I tend to take on and support taboo or dark subjects that need to be explored and discussed. I listen to BIPOC about what good allyship looks like, and I work to be that ally. Supporting BIPOC through their projects and building diverse teams are top priorities for me as I move forward. I believe what many white people need to understand is there is room for all of us to share our unique voices. Just because a BIPOC person gets a job or gets funding for their project, doesn’t mean you will not. Oppression and racism are born out of fear, including fear of “the other” getting what you have or what you want, and then you don’t get to have it. This fear is not based in truth and can even be unconscious. It’s time to make it conscious and step up to release it. Now is the time for white people in the industry to do the hard work and not simply continue to hire their white friends and colleagues. Take the extra time to seek out true diversity, not tokenism, for your writer’s rooms, casts and crews. There is room for all of us, and we can support each other and lift each other up.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
During my 20s, my greatest influences were Rebecca Miller, Miranda July, and Amanda Palmer, all incredible independent spirits with a DIY drive and intriguing experimental elements with their storytelling.
As I have been in my 30s, I find myself inspired by anyone who bravely shares their voice and tackles difficult subjects. I am currently in awe of Michaela Coel and the brilliance of I May Destroy You.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
Interviews where people go into the process of how they created something inspires me. I love hearing their thoughts, journeys, and feelings about it all. What were they trying to accomplish? How do they feel about it? What did they struggle with? I love every detail, and it gets my own thoughts and ideas stirring.
Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?
I have a feature length, female driven, supernatural thriller screenplay that I am working to get into the hands of an agent in hopes to sell it.
I am also evolving Tabs & Clea into a full supernatural thriller series titled Missing. The series introduces an additional lead character who is a Native American woman deputy and goes into solving what has happened to multiple missing Indigenous women. The greater purpose of the series is to bring more attention to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and GIrls (MMIWG) epidemic that is currently happening in the United States and Canada. Currently, I am doing research and seeking out a Native American woman writing partner to co-create this with me.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
This last summer I directed a short film capturing the choreography and poetry of Meg Affonso, who is an incredible artist and was doing a show in Albany, NY, titled Body: An Experiential Art installation It was her expression of the separation of the body and soul and included her expression of being a black woman. The day we filmed was absolutely incredible. It was a small crew and two dancers, including Meg. There were no egos that day, and we all worked so beautifully together. Everyone contributed their ideas and the footage was gorgeous. I felt in my power and in my joy the entire shoot. That was living my vision and is my goal for every project.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
I would be fully financed for developing my own series.
Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
Financial stability and being able to balance having a young family while working in film and TV. Working six days a week for 12+ hour days is not sustainable in general, let alone if you are a mother. I believe productions do not have to be run the way they are, and with the right mindset amongst the producers, a healthier work lifestyle can be formed. There are other ways to do production if we are willing to be open to it.
Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
I take walks in nature. This is where I feel grounded and magical. My thoughts can work themselves out, and I can open up to let new ideas rise.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
I would let go of self-doubt and worry.
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi. I visited in 2011, and it has stayed with me. It felt like walking into a fairy tale. All of his work felt that way to me. The magic in his work vibrates through you and sparks your own inner magic. I’m in love with it.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
My father. I reflect a lot on who he was as a person, the layers of complexities. I try to see him as a full human being, what he had to battle and overcome in his shortened life. I admire the interesting choices he made for himself and how he loved, for better or worse. He was open to everyone and kind to everyone, no matter their race or sexuality. His best friends were immigrants, whom he supported in any way they needed. I am who I am because of what I learned from him, how he treated others, and how he loved me. His openness and encouragement of all of my whims made me believe that I could do anything.
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
A human being with an incredible mindset and willpower to make things happen.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Spending time by myself either going out or staying in to be engrossed in something be it art, nature, or a movie or series.
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
Cherish these moments, even the dark ones. Spend time with those you love. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself and your path. It’s going to be really rough, but there is purpose to it all. Never give up. Follow your intuition and use your voice.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
In a house wherever it is safe for my bi-racial family.
Q: What is your idea of success?
Work/life balance with my work as a filmmaker and having financial freedom. My child(ren) growing up to be kind, respectful human beings with an incredible inner strength. My husband pursuing and living his dreams.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is being in the present moment free from over analyzing the past and worrying about the future.
Q: Final Thoughts?
Our country is in chaos and it is hard to navigate that while navigating what we are each going through personally. Don’t give up hope. Find hope in the small things. A small kind gesture from a loved one or even a stranger. A child laughing. The sweetness of a piece of fruit. The little things can add up to get us through each day. When it all gets too hard, go outside or look out a window. Take in the air, feel how big nature is, the earth is, and feel yourself a part of it. We are bigger than just this one moment. We can overcome this rock bottom as a collective, heal, and find our way to a better future for all. We may not know how we will get there or how long it will take, but trust that even the hard, terrifying times are part of the path. Wishing health, love, and safety to everyone.