TV critics have dubbed him an ”Eminem wannabe,” a ”sympathetic bad boy,” and ”the human equivalent of Jolt cola. ” And — all the comparisons to Puck from ”The Real World” notwithstanding — Morgan Moss of ”American High” is becoming the Fox documentary series’ biggest and most engaging breakout personality. The 18 year old — one of 14 students who spent an entire year at Highland Park High School surrounded by camera crews — is quite the scene stealer. In the show’s premiere episode, the Illinois teenager called for his peers to get high, smoke, have unprotected sex, read porno mags, and ”go f—ing wild.” Later, Morgan reveals that he’s not the suburban thug he might appear to be: He also teaches gymnastics to the mentally challenged, writes love poems to his girlfriend, and dares to be openly affectionate with his parents. He talked to EW.com about the show, his love life, and his plans for the future.
Why do you think the producers of ”American High” chose to focus on you?
I guess because I was multicultural. I hung out with black kids, white kids, rich kids, poor kids. And since I have such a vibrant personality. So it was cool.
How did your parents feel when you told them about being part of the documentary?
They didn’t know what to think at first. They weren’t sure what the show was about and stuff, but then they had an assembly and told us what it was all about and what would be happening.
What do you think of the relatively low ratings for the show’s premiere?
I think people weren’t well informed. All I’ve gotten are good reviews. Even parents, people who tell my parents that I swore a lot, follow that up by saying it’s such a great show.
This is the summer of reality TV. What makes ”American High” different?
It’s the realest show out there. Cause we’re not forced to sit on an island. We’re not forced to have a shower cam. We don’t have to vote people off, and we’re not all living under the same roof. We’re real as real can be.
We get to meet your girlfriend, Salima. Are you still a couple?
I hope so, but her parents don’t want us to be together, which you’ll see on the show. So it’s sort of a strange situation.
Which is your favorite episode?
I have to say the one that ends with me and my girlfriend. I do a lot of romantic stuff for my girlfriend, and I don’t know if it captured that well. I’m a pretty sincere guy, you know. There’s one with us dancing out by the beach, because I took her to a beach before a dance, and decided to have the first dance out by the car lights.
How well did you know the other 13 kids profiled?
I knew all of them, but I couldn’t say I was friends with them. But after this, we’re all pretty good friends. How often can you find other people who can understand that hey, there’s a camera following me around? So we all had that in common, and it brought us together.
Did you find yourself biting your lip to keep from saying something incriminating?
To avoid that, when I videotaped my diary entries, I’d talk to the camera. I mean, I’d let it all out. I’d vent and say everything I was thinking. And once I was done, I’d eject it, throw it in my bag, and not think anything else of it. Because if I rewatched it I’d probably start thinking about what I said about people or how I sound. That’s why there are so many swear words. I didn’t realize until later on how much I swore in the entries, but that’s what I mean about it being real. I wasn’t self conscious.
Now that you’ve graduated from ”American High,” what’ll you do next?
I’m going to Columbia College in Chicago this September, and I hope to major in film and directing. I caught the bug. Now that I learned how to use high tech equipment and manipulate camera angles, why not? I always wanted to become an actor, and now this is a way of getting my voice heard. It’d be cool if someone saw me and wanted me to be in their movie. Yeah, that would be cool.
Read more about ”American High.”