© Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Autumn DeWilde
Lamorne Morris used to get in trouble for making people laugh. Now he makes a living at it. In Hollywood. On a wildly popular TV show.
Morris stars in New Girl
, FOX network’s new blockbuster comedy with Zooey Deschanel. Morris plays Winston, a former basketball player sharing an apartment with two other guys and one wacky girl named Jess. As roles go, this one’s just about perfect for the 2003 COD graduate.
“My two passions in life are acting and basketball. Now I am living my dream!” he says with a laugh. “I make the analogy of playing on the Bulls during the Michael Jordan era. I’m just happy to be on this team.”
Morris’ first big break came from an unlikely source at Glenbard South High School. “I used to get kicked out of class a lot for telling too many jokes, so I was sent to detention a lot. My math teacher, along with the woman who was in charge of detention hall, would tell me, ‘you know, you should really use those talents toward something,’” he recalls.
Needless to say, Morris took those words to heart. He studied theater on scholarship at College of DuPage, took classes and performed at Chicago’s famed Second City, moved to New York and later to Los Angeles, all in pursuit of his dream. In this business, he says, you need to be fearless.
“As soon as you get out of your comfort zone, you find out a lot about yourself and what you can do,” he says. “It is hard work, but when you train yourself to do something it becomes second nature.”
Morris hosted game shows on the BET and Cartoon networks, acted in award-winning independent films and appeared in more than a dozen commercials before landing his dream job on New Girl. The 28-year-old auditioned for the part 15 times—admittedly his toughest audition process ever—and battled nerves his first day on the New Girl set. “My hands were freezing, I was sweating … this is what I had been working toward my whole life,” says the young actor.
COD Director of Theater Connie Canaday Howard remembers Morris as an inquisitive, collaborative student who achieved success both in class and on stage. Morris remembers immersing himself in all things acting—attending classes, rehearsals and performances, going to Second City, working at Ed Debevic’s and just hanging around his COD peers and mentors. Most days, he was on the go from 6 a.m. to midnight, totally in his element.
“In the Theater program, we were close, we were tight. We would spend every waking hour there. COD was the coolest, most relaxed experience ever,” says Morris, who was involved in more than a half dozen College Theater productions.
“Lamorne is certainly one of our many success stories,” Canaday Howard says. “He’s very talented and I’m really proud of him.”
While Morris admits he’s had a pretty awesome year, he continues to dream big.
“I want to star in a big budget comedy film with Eddie Murphy or Will Farrell,” he says. “Even if it’s just me in a big budget project, something that people will laugh at and enjoy would be fantastic.”