Last Sunday night, a wildly grinning Morgan Saylor stood on stage in a sparkly Jovani dress as Showtime’s “Homeland” received an Emmy for best drama.
By Tuesday morning, the 17-year-old senior was back at Decatur High School discussing terrorism in class.
“Thanks to the show,” Saylor says, “I’m more educated about the topic than I would have been.”
That’s the bifurcated life of an actress who on TV plays the daughter of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine found alive after eight years as an al-Qaeda prisoner of war. CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) spent season one playing cat and mouse with him, suspecting he had “turned” against the United States.
Saylor’s sullen teen character, Dana, loves her dad but worries about how he’s adjusting to civilian life. In the final episode of season one, Dana unknowingly thwarts Brody’s suicide attempt with a phone call.
As season two begins, Brody is a U.S. Congressman still caught between two worlds. Dana is struggling at a new private school and in the first episode, accidentally unveils a secret that unsettles her parents’ marriage.
“She values the relationship she has with her dad,” Saylor says. “At the same time, she doesn’t really understand what her mom’s been going through. She’s just a teenager.”
Dana will see her dad in a new light this season, she says, but she couldn’t say how. (The show, which is mostly shot in Charlotte, N.C., is currently working on its ninth of 12 episodes.)
She likes that her character is a “rebellious hooligan. I think the character has grown more like me.”
Born in Chicago, she grew up in Villa Rica, where her father owned real estate. She and her mom Mary Ann Lamonica moved to Decatur when Saylor was ten. Soon after, she started acting in community theater. “It was my summer camp of choice,” she says.
She got herself an agent and began nabbing small roles on TV including HBO’s “The Sopranos” and the short-lived Fox show “K-Ville.”
“Homeland” is her first big role. She knows expectations are high for this second season. “It’s incredible we’ve come this far,” she says, “but I’m confident that people will like season two.”
She’s still “weirded out” that Pres. Obama likes the show. “That means if I walked up to him, he’d recognize me! I can’t believe the show is good enough for the president to watch!”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk