How ‘Morning Show’ Newcomer Nicole Beharie Elevates the Drama and Brings ‘New Energy’ to Season 3

TheWrap magazine: The award-winning actress walks through her character’s star-making moments

Nicole Beharie on The Morning Show
Nicole Beharie on "The Morning Show" (Credit: Apple TV+)

Once you see Nicole Beharie, you never forget her. Credit her globe-trotting childhood (her father worked in the United States Foreign Service) or her training at Juilliard and then the University of Oxford on a Shakespeare scholarship, but Beharie brings a knowing realism and raw edge to her many screen performances that from a first encounter will inevitably leave you asking, “Who is that?”

“The Morning Show,” then, would seem a somewhat unlikely arena for the actress to showcase such authenticity. The starry Apple TV+ series is as much a primetime soap as it is prestige viewing: Reese Witherspoon in space! Jennifer Aniston in Italy! Steve Carell … dead! But Beharie, who won Best Actress at the 2021 Gotham Awards for the indie film “Miss Juneteenth” and joined “The Morning Show” in Season 3 as Olympian-turned-news anchor Chris Hunter, said that was part of the appeal. 

“I knew that she was coming to the season with sort of a different energy,” Beharie said. “I spoke to [director] Mimi Leder after my first tape, and she was just so excited about what Chris could introduce to the show, but also what she stood for, in a way. There was no one else like her so far.” In the role, Beharie delivers a forthright, grounded performance that stands in contrast to many of the series’ more over-the-top, soapy performances. (Here’s looking at you, Billy Crudup.) It even stands out from the A-list regular cast as well as fellow Season 3 newcomers Jon Hamm and Tig Notaro.

When Chris is first introduced, she exudes positivity and confidence. “Initially, I was just having a lot of fun,” Beharie said. “She was, you know, teasing Alex [Aniston’s character] about the whole astronaut thing and going to space. And I hadn’t had the opportunity to play such a bright, colorful and sort of warm character in a while. And so I was looking forward to doing that. But then it took a bit of a turn.”

That first “super juicy” turn came in Episode 3, titled “White Noise,” when Chris and network board chairperson Cybil Richards (Holland Taylor) sit down for a live, on-air interview after a data breach reveals that Richards made racist comments about Chris’ hiring, calling her “Aunt Jemima.” In the tense five-and-a-half-minute standoff, Beharie slowly reveals that there is much more to her character than just being the morning show’s upbeat newcomer. Chris asks Cybill to account for her comments, maintaining a perfect calm even when it’s clear she sees through the exec’s platitudes. When Cybil says, “Anyone who sits in that chair should be grateful,” Chris is taken aback. “I sh…” she begins, closing her eyes as if to steady herself. “I should be grateful?” The scene ends with Chris looking right into the camera and saying, “We will move on from institutional racism right after this break.”

“It was a reflection of some things that have actually happened with other journalists and athletes, and I was like, ‘Let’s do it,’” Beharie said. “I just hope that I did it some justice. My trepidation was that it is just such a big show, and I was frightened as a new person. I was nervous about her story getting lost, and I felt like I had a huge responsibility to that. I didn’t want it to just be, like, fodder.” Far from getting lost, the scene became one of the most talked-about of the season. “We’ve gotten some really good feedback,” Beharie said. “It’s why we do it, for those magic moments. And then you hope it works.” 

Asked to tease what’s to come for Chris in Season 4, due later this year, Beharie played off a recent reveal from Leder, who said at an FYC event in Los Angeles, “If the last season was about ‘What is the truth?,’ maybe this season could be about ‘who you trust.’”

“Exploring that this upcoming season is going to be really resonant with the world that we’re living in right now—or in two years,” she said. “What’s insane about what [showrunner Charlotte Stoudt] and Mimi are doing is they have to anticipate what will matter in a year or two’s time. You can’t be behind, or you have to select things that people are not over already. So it’s really quite the task. And they’re doing a magnificent job of figuring out what will stick and what will be uncomfortable and juicy and what might be going on in the world.”

This story first appeared in the Drama Series issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine. Read more from the issue here.

Gary Oldman photographed by Molly Matalon for TheWrap
Gary Oldman photographed by Molly Matalon for TheWrap

Comments

One response to “How ‘Morning Show’ Newcomer Nicole Beharie Elevates the Drama and Brings ‘New Energy’ to Season 3”

  1. cadavra Avatar
    cadavra

    I’ve been madly in love with her since “42,” and it’s about time people started taking notice of her.

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