He walked into the light on the stage of Cook Theatre and sat in a chair, which was a prop for a play. He looked among the crowd of students, faculty and staff and said with no hesitation, “I’m a proud graduate of Dillard.”
Garrett Morris, actor, native of New Orleans and alumnus of Dillard visited his alma mater Oct. 8. Morris stopped by the University to discuss his roots, journey to success and life in New Orleans.
“I loved Dillard so much, I would walk to school early [in the morning] although my classes were at 1 and 2 o’clock,” said Morris.
As the first person in his family to graduate from college, Morris majored in theatre arts and walked with the class of 1958. Allowing his character to flourish beyond the theatre, Morris discussed the difference between knowing yourself and knowing your character.
In efforts to test the passion of talented students throughout the crowd, Morris let them know that if they were not dedicated to get out of the business.
Ellis Marsalis Jr., a premier pianist in modern jazz, surprisingly stopped by to share a moment in the live chat with Morris. The two classmates studied together and both graduated the same year with a bachelor of arts degree. Morris stated that it was Marsalis who introduced him to cool and contemporary jazz.
Giving life to the stage, Morris and Marsalis joined together to entertain the crowd through a song, “God Bless the Child.” Morris uplifted his church choir voice while Marsalis ran his fingers across the piano. After the discussion in the theatre, Morris took a walk through the school that set a mark on the rest of his life.
Morris is known greatly for his play, “Secret Place” and becoming the first African American cast member on “Saturday Night Live.”