Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Morris D. Small: I grew up and still reside in Washington, DC. Home life was fun and spontaneous. Both parents had professional careers and kept me involved in things that I liked all of the time whether I followed the activities through its entirety.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Morris: That is a hard one…both of them. Some folks say Moms and some say Pops. Everyone else says them both. I will chose my father to answer the question, haha.
Film Courage: If your life were a motion picture, what would the title be?
Morris: I would probably name my motion picture, “The puzzled one.”
Morris: My grandfather, Willie R. Copeland (RIP). He was very humble, outgoing, courteous to others, religious, enjoyed the family life, down to earth, and forgiving. He was great and I wish sometimes that he could see my progress with my acting career.
Film Courage: Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Morris: Yes, my father encouraged me to hone my craft for anything that I did, he was a bit skeptical of me wanting to be an actor at first. He did not want me to get hurt because I did not become a star. My mother supported my acting and told me to follow my heart.
Film Courage: Did you go to school for dramatic arts/theater?
Morris: Mainly I learned by watching great performances, behind-the-scenes footage of movies on Entertainment Tonight, in elementary school taught by the drama teachers, through rehearsals in church plays, and when I was in high school we did training there as well.
Morris: Life, my goals, and the man upstairs. I like knowing that every day that I am fortunate to wake up, I am contributing to my goals and contributing to the lives in my environment, wherever it may be at the time.
Film Courage: What’s your typical day like?
Morris: I work 9-5, Monday through Friday. During my lunch I typically try networking online, searching for interesting projects, go to the gym, and watch movies later that day.
Film Courage: What do you do every day to book work?
Morris: I try to network with casting directors. I visit the SAG AFTRA website, Backstage, ProductionHub.com, and Imdb.com.
Film Courage: How did you begin acting?
Morris: It began when I was attending JC Nalle Elementary school day/evening talent shows and when I volunteered to be in church plays on Sundays in Washington, DC.
Film Courage: Why do you love entertaining people?
Morris: I like it mainly because of the excitement of getting the audience to focus on performances, the story line, and hopefully making an impact on their lives.
Film Courage: What’s your youngest memory of entertaining someone?
Morris: I was 10 years old I believe on a trip to Atlantic City, NJ at the time. I thought it was Las Vegas, NV. It was with my mother, sister, and father. Our parents left us in the arcades to go gamble I would stand in the hallway of the casinos an impersonate a Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, a TV show, or just make things up. I would see the smiles and hear the chuckles of people walking past.
Film Courage: You have numerous acting credits. How have you booked roles living in Washington DC?
Morris: In the past, I was booked for roles at open casting calls and networked with fellow actors to learn where to find casting databases online. I would submit to the local casting directors that I heard about that included Pat Moran casting, Betsy Royal casting, Central Casting, and Carolyn Davis casting.
Film Courage: You mentioned previously that you’ve always wanted to move to California to become an actor, you had family advise that it was a ‘poor man’s craft’ and may never go anywhere? What are your thoughts on this?
Morris: My thoughts at the time were I am going to make it somehow without having to sell my soul and I didn’t care how hard it was as long as I had talent. Currently, my thoughts are much different and talent is almost at the bottom of the list now, reality kicked in (chuckles).
Morris: Yes, I have always wanted to be at the fingertips of the LA market. I had an agent in LA years ago. Unfortunately, he closed the company down. I remember him telling me “Morris, you’ve got balls to come way out to LA from Washington, DC to seek representation, I respect that.”
Film Courage: What would it take for you to move to California now?
Morris: Honestly, a full time federal government job mainly because of the job security. I need the security because nothing is guaranteed for us actors unless you have been cast for a major role or in big projects back to back.
Film Courage: What do you think about actors living outside Los Angeles and New York? Is it a viable career path today?
Morris: Living outside of LA and NY can be an advantage if you take the opportunities in that are presented to you as an actor. It is a good opportunity to see if you can survive in the smaller entertainment markets. The Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, DC, and Miami areas are major cities that have work in the entertainment field.
Morris: It was random, I mean, I attended a course in voice over at Maryland Community college. I felt a bit confident that I could break into voice over something that is extremely difficult to do with all of the competition in the field.
Film Courage: What three qualities do you pride yourself on?
Morris: Being an extrovert, confident, and being down to earth.
Film Courage: What three qualities in an actor do you most admire?
Morris: Honing the craft of acting, networking, and being a professional.
Film Courage: If there was one actor you could interview, who would it be?
Morris: There are quite a few from the Washington, DC area. I would say Martin Lawrence. He is from the area. I would ask Martin how did he feel about not being able to film his hit show “Martin” in the area in which he grew up and would he try to do a show in Washington, DC now?
Morris: If I had to choose between the two it would be highly-emotional character because I am not the highly-emotional type person. I am lively, not highly emotional. I would reminisce on individuals that I know that are highly-emotional both men and women that would help contribute to the challenging role.
Film Courage: How did you begin doing stunt work?
Morris: I took a class at the Studio Theater in Washington, DC. Did some networking with California stunt performers who kindly gave me advice and it went from there. It is more of the fight choreography that interests me more than stunt work. You really have to be driven and love to do stunt work.
Film Courage: Of your IMDB credits, which role had the most impact on you?
Morris: The project titled “Insomnia,” not because it is the most recent. My character’s name is Carl Burton the Blogger/a*!hole. The role of Carl B. in Insomnia gave me an opportunity to create this character from scratch and I just kept adding everything I thought Carl would be. It made me dig within myself and pull out traits that I wanted to show the audience.
Film Courage: What challenging role are you eager to take on?
Morris: I would like to play the state governor or congressional leader that has that hidden secret that no one knows about. I say this because political leaders are viewed with such high standards and once people discover that there is another side, it just has the person’s character make an extreme adjustment.
Film Courage: What is more important to you, risk and variety or comfort and predictability?
Morris: Risk and variety, if I am in a comfortable and predictable scenario that is monotonous to me. Risk and variety, is a challenge with the uncertainty that is involved. That would keep it exciting.
Film Courage: Quote that you live by?
Morris: ‘Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.’ Booker T. Washington
Film Courage: What is the secret to a happy life?
Morris: For me, being yourself and doing what makes you smile on the the inside. as well as the outside. Everything does not have to be for financial gain in life to be happy (my opinion).
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Morris: Exploring more avenues of directing and producing more short films or low budget feature projects to submit to festivals and share with audiences everywhere.
Morris D. Small has worked on numerous projects as a featured, principal, supporting, and lead roles for Federal Government Security Videos (National Archives), TV show HBO Veep Season 3 Ep. 4 Clovis featured Secret Service role from Pat Moran Casting, and has auditioned for House of Cards with casting director Kimberly Skyrme casting in Baltimore, MD. He has appeared on talk shows, was featured in a Mid Atlantic Area magazine, and in an article for the Washington Examiner in Washington, DC. Morris has written, produced, and directed two short films, one a comedy and the other a drama. He also just wrapped on a TV webseries INSOMNIA, filming in the Washington, DC area.