Lamorne Morris understands his hit Hulu show “Woke” aims to mirror society as we know it, so it was only natural for the sophomore season to be inspired by the aftermath of the George Floyd riots and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“With all that was happening in the world, we got a chance to see a lot of overnight activists pop up, we got a chance to see a lot of performative stuff, a lot of performative allies, a lot of murkiness around what the issues were so we tackled that. What does it mean to be an activist? Is it just some Instagram stuff that you just post and then keep it moving? Maybe, if that’s effective for your community and your following. Do you continue that journey? And what happens if somebody gives you a bunch of money? Give me a quarter of a million dollars and am I going to carry that same tune? It comes with some baggage and some compromise. So then the question is, are you willing to compromise,” Morris told ET Canada.
“With Season 2, our characters are on a crazy exploration on what it means to be woke, if they even want to be woke and would they rather be broke. There’s a lot of questions up in the air that I think our fans can resonate with and because of what is happening in society, we try to mirror that on the show,” he continued.
Inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight, “Woke” upends Black nerd and activist culture, deftly satirizing with a wink and a smile. In the first season of the Hulu series, Keef (played by Morris) was introduced to viewers as a black cartoonist on the verge of mainstream success, who prided himself on keeping things light rather than tackling the controversial issues. That is until he was racially profiled by an overly aggressive officer that the character became over sensitive to the everyday micro-aggressions that he tried so hard to avoid acknowledging in every situation.
Now, Keef is entering the sophomore season as a popular activist on the rise, but he’s facing a world where “woke” has become big business. The character is forced to find the balance between bringing real change and the money needed to support that change.
“That’s real life. You don’t want to be a one trick pony and we don’t think that’s where our character wanted to go,” Morris said. “He was so gong-ho on telling his story on what happened with the police in season 1 that he forgot that there are other people hurting just like him and they have other issues. There’s other people of different shades, different races, different religious backgrounds that are fighting for the limelight and the spotlight so they can tell their story and get more people involved and now here he is with the spotlight and he don’t got nothing to say.
You want to be the voice of the people, but the people ain’t all tripping about the same things you’re tripping about. I think that’s a difficult spot he finds himself in and he has a job to do.”
Morris admits that working on this project has also unexpectedly inspired him to break out of his comedic shell and advocate for issues he personally champions.
“I wasn’t that guy. I was an actor. I had my head down, I was acting, learning lines, telling jokes, going on stage and doing improv, hanging out with my friends, going to the movies, that was my life,” he said. “And then you do a show like this and you’re hit with political questions and I was not the most politically savvy guy. I don’t like to be involved in politics whatsoever.
It was weird. I found myself doing an interview where there was a ticker tape on the bottom with stock prices on the bottom and business and we’re talking about the police and I was like, ‘My God, man, I just want to tell stupid jokes’ and then you find yourself realizing there are things that matter to you. There are things that no matter how much levativity you want to put out in the world, there are some serious things that you want to talk about,” he added. “You have to educate yourself and try to get involved to whatever ability you’re able to do and that’s the same spot we find Keef in. It’s very much like myself. This show is a mirror to society, and also to myself. I find a lot of Keef in me and vice versa.”
According to Morris, those tough political conversations have reached way far and beyond the media as fans often approach him with their opinions on his character’s views.
“It’s not always a positive thing. I’ve had people come to me and say how they feel negatively about the show. Not about how we execute, not about the comedy or anything like that, just ‘I don’t believe in that episode with this. Shouldn’t it be this?’ And then you find yourself in a days long conversation with a stranger and you’ve become homies,” he said. “That’s what the world is. I don’t know what the politics are like in Canada, but I do know that worldwide, we all have the same wants and needs. We all want some freedom and food and to be able to do whatever we want to do and kick it.”
Morris concluded, “I think if we can all find that common ground with everything we disagree with, it’s okay to disagree, like I don’t agree with people that I live with on things, but I’d take a bullet for them, but I think that’s life and it has to be.”
“Woke” premieres Friday, April 8 at 10PM ET on FXX.