Sharon Morris’ warm smile fills the screen for a few moments in the Zac Efron-Taylor Schilling movie “The Lucky One.”
The metro Atlanta actress portrays a school principal who exchanges a couple of lines with Schilling’s character as they’re leaving a church.
“I loved working with her, ” Schilling told us during an interview when she was in Atlanta recently promoting the movie.
We had no idea Morris filmed the scene with a newly broken elbow.
“I broke my arm on set. I went to the restroom and tripped down some steps, ” she told us during a subsequent interview this week. “I thought I had broken both my kneecaps, but it was just my elbow. I wouldn’t take painkillers because I needed to speak.”
It’s a telling example of the sacrifices Morris has made to pursue her dream. A New York native who grew up in Roswell, she studied speech communications at the University of Georgia, worked for Coca-Cola after college and later helped run a restaurant with her then-husband. Long hours and little kids weren’t compatible, so she became a stay-at-home mom when her children — Taylor, 13, and Jacob, 10 — came along. In 2006, she became single again.
It was Taylor who inspired Morris to start a new path.
“She asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I said I had always wanted to be an actor, ” Morris said. “She said, ‘You always tell us we can be whatever we want to be. Why aren’t you doing what you want to do?’ I was single. I felt like I had lived this other life for so long. I needed to do my own thing.”
Morris started taking acting classes and signed with the J Pervis Talent Agency in December 2007.
“I would spend the last $140 I had every month to pay for acting classes. Sometimes I barely had the gas money to get there. I had a ton of help from my parents.”
Everyone’s efforts to support Morris paid off. January 2008 found her driving through sleet and snow to North Carolina to film “The Secret Life of Bees, ” starring Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning. She was 36.
“I was not a spring chicken. I tell everybody don’t ever let anybody tell you you can’t do something, ” she said. “I listened to Fantasia’s ‘I Believe’ the whole way there. I was singing, praying, crying. It was a great, great, great first movie experience.”
Since then, Morris has stayed busy, playing roles in such feature films as “The Blind Side, ” “Due Date, ” “The Green Lantern” and “The Hunger Games” and television movies, including “Firelight” and “Christmas Cupid.” She’s appeared in a slew of filmed-in-Atlanta TV shows, including “Single Ladies, ” “Necessary Roughness, ” “Teen Wolf” and “Drop Dead Diva, ” and has booked numerous commercials.
“I’ve never been more sure of any adult actor, ” said Jayme Pervis, agent and owner at J Pervis Talent. “She has that kind of personality that you’re just drawn to. She has that energy that clients love. I remember that first phone call when she booked ‘Secret Life of Bees.’ She just booked on and on and on.”
Morris takes none of her success for granted.
“I’ve just always known what it was to work for stuff, ” she said, recalling nights in high school when she was working her part-time job while her friends headed to dances or football games. “I know to get some place on time. I read the entire script even if I have two lines.”
And she gleans whatever wisdom she can when working with top talent. On the set of “The Blind Side, ” Sandra Bullock, who won an Oscar for her role, kept Morris laughing and learning.
“While we were waiting for different set-ups, she was telling us things about Lucille Ball, Betty White, ” Morris said. “She said Betty White drives herself to the set in a gold Caddy. She is never late. She never drops a line. Stories like that motivate me. I don’t care about so-and-so got green M & Ms.”
Her ultimate goal is to work with Academy Award winner Meryl Streep.
“I am going to work with her one day, ” Morris vowed. “I’m going to tell her, ‘Look, I might drool on myself a little bit, but after that I’m going to bring it. You better bring your game because I’m going to bring mine.”