Alumna Tyra Morrison making her own way

Life moves fast for Tyra Morrison and she’s ready for it. Morrison, a 2015 graduate in theatre with a concentration in performance and directing, plays the role of Young Amelia in the Netflix Original show “Family Reunion” that first aired in July. “Family Reunion” is a multi-generational show about a family of six who move from Seattle to Columbus, Georgia, to be closer to family. Morrison said the show has an all-black writer’s room and pulls from personal stories to create the authenticity of black culture. She plays the 16-year-old version of the main character, M’Dear in a flashback.

“In the episode, M’Dear’s grandchildren are asking questions about her past, so she tells them the story of how she met their grandfather. Young Amelia has a lot of spunk and is very outgoing. I had a blast playing her,” said Morrison, who is originally from St. Francisville.

Morrison moved to Los Angeles in early 2018 and got the audition for “Family Reunion about six months later. At the time Morrison received the audition, she didn’t know it was for Netflix but said she was just happy to be going to an audition. The initial audition led to a call back.

“I was in a trendy bar in Downtown Los Angeles, celebrating a commercial booking I’d gotten that morning and my agent gave me a call and told me I had booked the job,” she said. “I ran back in the bar after the call and told (friend and NSU alumna) Alexis Reliford the news. Well, I actually screamed the news to her, and we did a little victory dance. That was one of the best days of my life.”

Morrison said she was excited and nervous on the day she shot her scene.

“Everyone was so proud and excited and gave me encouraging words that really gave me the extra confidence I needed. I was nervous because this was my first time in a professional environment and I didn’t know what to expect, or really how to carry myself,” she said. “But everyone was so nice and patient with me. I met a lot of ladies who were members of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and the director, Eric Dean Seaton, was super cool. I had to do a lot of takes and he took the time to educate me on things I had no idea about while working on a multicam show. The crew had a great family dynamic and it was the perfect atmosphere to create a show all about family.”

Morrison said her education helped her get her start in the business.

“Not only did I receive a great education from NSU, but I also received a hunger and ambition that set me apart,” she said. “When I moved to New Jersey in 2016, I did a few independent projects and I always felt a little more equipped, mentally and emotionally, than other actors. Northwestern built the foundation of drive and determination that I have today.”

Morrison played Ouiser in a 2014 production of “Steel Magnolias” at NSU and received the Outstanding Supporting Actress Award at the annual Bella Awards. Morrison said she tried out for other roles and was disappointed when she didn’t get them, but that actually helped her.

“If I’d gotten cast every semester during college, maybe I wouldn’t have dug deep within myself and become the person I am — confident in her work, and sure of herself,” said Morrison. “That made me appreciate my education a lot more. When I moved out to Los Angeles and started taking on camera classes, I thought I should start at the beginning, but the beginner classes were just refresher courses for me. I was expecting to go into those classes and not know much at all, because they were TV and film classes, but my professors at Northwestern planted plenty of seeds within me.”

Along with acting, Morrison is a plant-based pastry chef, content creator and photographer.

“My goal is to make sure that all of my interests coexist in my everyday life,” said Morrison. “I believe life to be a balancing act. Every area of your life has to counterbalance one another to keep me or any person sane. But ideally, I will have a career that encompasses all of those interests flawlessly, and I have a few ideas up my sleeve of how to make that happen.”

She also has a YouTube channel, “Tyra the Creative” with more than 1,500 subscribers. Morrison has been invited to events like BeautyCon & VidCon and held campaigns for Xbox, FILA and Walmart.

“We live in a digital age where we as artists have to make our own works to get our foot in the door,” said Morrison. “YouTube has provided countless opportunities for people over the past few years and I plan on using my channel as a vehicle to get me to the goal. I post what I am inspired to post without worrying about if this casting director will like my acting style or the opinions of spectators. It’s a platform that allows you to express your creativity freely, and I love that.”