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You may know Morgan from her roles in Homeland, McFarland USA, Jamie Marks is Dead, Being Charlie, White Girl, Novitiate...
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ASOS Magazine – Photoshoot + Article

Jul 30, 2014       Filed in Photos ,Press       Comments: 0


After finishing work on TV hit Homeland, Morgan Saylor graduated school and moved to Manhattan. Now, with two films set for release, it’s time to say goodbye to Dana…

In a small theatre just off West 55th Street in Manhattan, Morgan Saylor is delivering a monologue on women’s rights. It’s 1972, and 19-year-old Morgan is 16-year-old Penny, the daughter of Agnes, a former nurse, who runs a shelter for abused women.

It’s a packed house in the theatre tonight, and while Morgan negotiates her way through the teenage angst she learnt so well playing Dana Brody in Homeland, and what it means to be a feminist in the 1970s, the audience laugh and cry with her. And as she and her cast mates, including Ruby Sparks’ Zoe Kazan, take their bows, the crowd stand to applaud and cheer. When We Were Young And Unafraid is Morgan’s first public outing since Homeland, and if this is anything to go by, she’s going to be A-OK in a post-Brody world.

‘Being a teenager is such a crazy age,’ she says as we talk about her character, Penny, the following day in the hot Brooklyn sun. ‘I’m still 19 and even though the play is set in 1972, it feels very present. Being a woman and what it means in today’s age is so different to back then, but we’re still talking about gender equality 42 years later.
‘We’ve made progress, but teenagers now are still going through the same things that Penny was going through. Your first love, your first time having sex – you’re growing up without knowing it. Your parents don’t understand, nobody understands. That really appealed to me and I knew I wanted to do the play real bad – I worked hard and I got it.’

While the characters she’s drawn to might be partial to the occasional tantrum, Morgan’s sweet, smart and good company. It’s no surprise her cast mates have become fast friends, helping her through her first taste of stage-dom, and welcoming her to New York, her new home.
‘We spend so much time together,’ she grins. ‘Between shows, we eat together and go to the park or run around Barneys, and we even spend Mondays, our day off, together. I feel like I’m working with smart women. Zoe and I take the train home together every night, and she answers all my questions, even the weird ones. We actually met about a year ago at an Honor show at Fashion Week and even just meeting her briefly, I really liked her.’

Once the play finishes, she’ll be going straight into promotion of two films she has coming out this autumn. One, Jamie Marks Is Dead, a dark high-school tale, which premiered at Sundance, and the other, McFarland, a Disney movie, in which she plays the opposite of any role she’s done before, and not just because she ‘wears a lot of pink’.
‘I only like good scripts,’ she says. ‘There are a lot of different ways to be successful as an actor, but when directors would ask me, “What kind of actress do you want to be?”, it felt so obvious – I just want to make good movies. I don’t want to make one big movie, or a huge trilogy that will dry me out. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Slow and steady wins the race, not that I want to win the race, but I do want to be slow and steady and work with interesting people. That’s important.’

Morgan’s role in Homeland was one that took her straight out of school and to the Golden Globes, via President Obama’s front room [the First Couple admitted to being obsessed with the show]. After three seasons, she’s no longer a regular on the show, but remains best friends with Timothée Chalamet, who played her boyfriend, Finn, and stays with Morena Baccarin, her on-screen mum, when she goes to L.A.

She’s also been keeping up with the rest of the cast on Instagram. ‘It feels a little weird,’ she says, pulling her bare feet up on to the bench where we are sitting. ‘They’re filming in South Africa, so it’s a whole different thing to when I was in it, but it’s nice to play someone other than Dana. You play a character for three years and you kind of get stuck in the bones. It feels like Penny is so different from Dana, so it’s nice to throw myself at something else and know that I don’t have to do Dana again in a month. It’s cool to have variety.’

The variety meant Morgan moved to New York from her home town of Atlanta a year ago. She graduated high school the day after completing Homeland and by August had rented an apartment in Brooklyn that she found on Gumtree. She moved with her boyfriend, Robert, who cycles down to our shoot and spends the day on set. Cute doesn’t even begin to cover the two of them together – they’re like a walking, talking heart eyes emoji.

‘We’ve been together two years, but we’ve been good friends for a much longer time,’ she grins. ‘We were on opposite climbing teams. My brother lives with us now and we go to Coney Island, and the Rockaways, and run around New York. There’s so much to do. I like MoMA and PS1, which is part of MoMA, but is a little weirder. And I’m not a big nightlife person, but I do like to dance.’
She’s deferred her start date at the University of Chicago [‘I was born there, and I love the city’] for another year, so she can concentrate on work. ‘Most of my high-school friends are at college in Georgia now,’ she says, ‘so I’ve gone to visit them and stay in their dorms – it’s fun to be a college kid! They come and stay with me too. I love my high-school friends.’

As for celebrity buddies, she counts her May 2013 ASOS Magazine cover co-star, Kiernan Shipka, as one. ‘She’s lovely,’ she says. ‘And Elle Fanning is cool, very smart. And I’ve met Jennifer Lawrence a few times and she’s funny. Hailee Steinfeld and I have hung out. I like her. But I haven’t actually gotten to work with many girls, and I really want to.’

Has anyone ever left her star-struck? ‘I don’t think I get star-struck,’ she says, thoughtfully. ‘When you shake their hands, they’re all just people.’
Morgan’s attitude to fancy clothes is pretty much the same as her attitude to fancy people. ‘I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes – I like vintage things, like this jacket,’ she says, holding up her pale blue oversized denim jacket, and showing me its hand-embroidered floral motif. ‘Isn’t that cool? And the dress I’m wearing today [a black button-through shirt dress] is ASOS – I can get lost on the website for hours, you can go in looking for one thing and then suddenly you have a thousand tabs open…’

Morgan may be happiest rooting around for a bargain, but when it comes to the red carpet, she’s OK with playing dress-up too. ‘People talk about getting dressed up like it’s this awful thing, but I like it!’ she says. ‘If I have an event, I look at Style.com, and there are designers I’ve become friends with, so I might ask to borrow stuff from them.

‘I work with [stylist] Micaela Erlanger, who has blown up because she’s Lupita’s girl. She’s lovely and knows my taste. I like Novis and Honor and Band of Outsiders. I love Proenza and I love Wang. I love just simple Calvin Klein and Rebecca Minkoff, Phillip Lim, Suno and Peter Som. And I’ve grown to love Karen Walker.’
It’s a good time to be Morgan Saylor – new home, exciting work and endless possibilities. ‘I like being young,’ she says. ‘I like living with my boyfriend and my brother, running around New York. You get away with more stuff when you’re young. I don’t mean partying or being a punk, but you can make mistakes and ask questions and I ask a lot of questions. I feel very happy!’ And why wouldn’t she?

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