Lindsey Morgan knows what a gift it is to play Raven Reyes on The 100. The tough-as-nails heroine can code, hack, and MacGyver her way out of any world-ending situation on the post-apocalyptic drama series, and she also happens to be a woman of color, one with a sometimes-limiting physical disability. It’s a rare role in sci-fi, especially for a female character, and Morgan pours every ounce of her seemingly endless well of talent into bringing the character to life on screen.
Off-screen, the actress is just as committed to living up to her character’s bad-ass superhero reputation. She kickboxes. She snowboards. She zip-lines through the jungle. But she also volunteers for disaster relief agencies and marches for gender equality. In between, she’s busy forging a lasting career by purposefully challenging herself in front of the camera.
SYFY FANGRRLS spoke with Morgan about Raven’s journey on the show, a certain ship that might sail soon, and how The 100 is proving sci-fi doesn’t just belong to the fanboys.
We haven’t checked in with Raven in a while. What’s the next move in dealing with these Eligius guys, particularly Shaw?
Raven took a risk in trusting Shaw and in believing that he is a good person. He does have blood on his hands at times, but he is essentially a good person. He's not crazy like McCreary. Shaw's a pilot, so he's coming into this world surrounded by these aggressive forces and he's having to make a lot of calls for himself. What I loved about their dynamic is that it was almost seeing someone familiar in each other. Raven hasn't had someone who could understand her mind, understand piloting and mathematics and coding. These are essential to Raven's character, and I think she's felt very alone for a long time without having anyone to share that with. She sees it in Shaw, but then she also sees the goodness in him. That's her Hail Mary right there. If she can reach him, then maybe they can have a chance to survive.
The fandom is currently building a ship name for those two. Any suggestions?
[laughs] I would like Shaven. I would call [Jordan Bolger] Shawshank on set a lot too. Maybe Shawshave? Shawshaven's kind of dope.
Maybe it’s not with Shaw, but do you think it’s time Raven had a romantic relationship on the show? It’s been a while.
Girl, believe me, it's been six years plus some. No, I don’t know what happened on the ship.
I’d like to think something happened with Emori, or even Echo.
Use your imagination, because it probably happened. That's what I tell myself. There's this aspect of Raven, she's always kind of on her own personal journey. I love that, because she's a female character that's not tied to any romantic relationship, and that's pivotal. It was something I loved about her for so long, but then she was almost [alone] for too long. We as people are meant to connect and be together and evolve and grow with love. Raven has a lot of friends and they have filled that hole in her heart, but ever since Finn she's never had [someone] romantically fill that hole. Even with her and Finn, you never saw the romance. You never saw Raven in love. I went to the writers and I was just like, "I would just love if she some more roots in her life."
Being the smartest person in the room I think can be very lonely. I think a lot of times we're motivated by love and need. The way Bellamy will do something crazy for his sister, because it's his sister. There’s something so beautiful and so human about that. I wanted to have that for Raven because it's just such a tough life. Can you imagine? Living that life and having zero comfort, it’s heartbreaking.
It was also nice to see our mechanic kick a bit of ass in the first episode this season. Will Raven be using that Azgeda training against the Eligius crew?
Yes. That was also something I asked the writers. I Muay Thai kickbox a lot, so was like, "I would love to bring some more stunts and more action to Raven," because we just never get to see her do that. She's always just kind of benched out in those scenes. So keep watching.
Speaking of fighting, there’s rumors that Echo and Raven might come to blows now that Echo’s spying on Eligius for WonKru. What can you tell us about that?
Me and Tasya [Teles] are roommates as well. I love her so much, so I love that we got to work together and do this. Echo has a lot of different agendas driving her with Bellamy and Octavia and proving herself. Raven's never really killed anyone face to face. She may build a bomb or type in a computer code or push a button, but she's never had that kind of blood on her hands. Over the six years in space, that was a big thing that matured with Raven. Of course, we're all fighting to survive, but all lives are important. There are evil people, but what does it say about the person who convicts them? So Raven's agenda is to save the most lives, to not have to mass-murder people, whereas Echo, [coming] from a warrior lifestyle, is okay with that. She’ll do what it takes to get her mission done. I loved having that dynamic play out and for such good friends to have that conflict with each other.
On the show. In real life, you and Tasya are totally fine.
We had one fight. It was 10 minutes long and I think it honestly made us better friends. Roommate struggles are real. She's super clean and I am not. So we kind of had a thing. We both got it out there and we were like, "I'm sorry. I won't do that again. I love you." And then that was it. It was really funny.
Just offer to pay for a cleaning service. It’s what I do.
That's what I've done. That's what the compromise is.
What does it mean to you to play a woman of color who’s this STEM genius and can hold her own with a physical disability?
I always say I'm just eternally grateful for this role because Raven Reyes defies all stereotypes. It's revolutionary for a character on television, and it's also extremely creatively liberating as an artist. When I play Raven, I have to play her at the height of my intelligence. If anything, she makes me feel dumb, which inspires me to be better, to be a better actor, a better person, smarter, stronger, and to give a f*ck about stuff. We’ve had [this] movement in media with women and diversity, and it's so amazing and it's so beautiful, but when we started the show almost five and a half years ago and I got that audition, I remember being like, "Oh, my God." It was the first audition I've never had to inform my character with my sexuality.
It was also like I get to connect with this need to do good in the world. Raven has very like superhero qualities about her. She's always trying to do the right thing and be a better person. It still gives me goosebumps.
Switching gears for a second, you’re in a new film that premiered at Tribeca called Summertime. Was it nice to play a character that’s not having to save the world every five seconds?
I've never been more relaxed on set. It's a coming-of-age story [about] being young and falling in love in the summer as you embark on adulthood and embark on becoming the person you want to be. It's just such a beautiful time in everyone's life.
Before this call you said you had a chat with the writers about plans for Season 6. What would you like to see for future Raven?
There's aspects of her I'd love to explore. I would love for her to be the villain at some point. I would love for her to find love. I would love for her to keep exploring herself. I would love for her to find some levity, you know? I would also just love for her to get stronger. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Maybe find some chinks in her armor.
Maybe go on some space adventures?
Right. Space adventure. Let's do this.
How do you hope the character of Raven Reyes can influence future sci-fi heroines?
There's a lot more women now that are voicing their support for sci-fi. We do these comic conventions and we go all around the world and meet fans, and 90% that come to our conventions are women. So I think that just reiterates the fact that, hey, this kind of boys' club of the sci-fi world isn't true anymore. Women and girls are there, and they want to see stories with characters that they can relate to, that they can be inspired by and see themselves in. I hope that Raven can be inspiring to them.