Lamorne Morris’ Keef Knight ended Season 1 of the Hulu comedy “Woke” with all eyes on him, as the Black cartoonist was thrust into the spotlight after standing up against the white police officer who had racially profiled and assaulted him in the series premiere. Now that the apolitical artist-turned-activist has a following, what is he going to do with it in the show’s Season 2, which launches Friday?
“That’s 100% the thing. The question for Keef this season is, what else can you do? Are you a one-trick pony?” Morris told Variety. “Like, we know this thing happened to you, and we know you want to speak about it. You get ruffled up by the police and we understand and you are having some PTSD. But now you got the bullhorn and now there’s money coming your way. And now there’s all kind of folks like, ‘Hey, listen, we’ve got issues, too! What are you going to do about it? Can you speak about this?’ And he has to figure it out.”
Morris added: “He has his friends along the way and he has his inanimate objects along the way to kind of help him along, but he’s kind of alone in that he decided to just stand on this soapbox but he now has to figure out what he’s going to do, what he’s going to say, how he’s going to rally the troops. And the question is, can he get it done?”
As the “New Girl” alum said, Keef does have Clovis (T. Murph), Ayana (Sasheer Zamata) and Gunther (Blake Anderson) and the animated figments of his own cartoonist imagination to try and assist him in navigating the world of activism. Also joining Keef’s “Woke” world in Season 2 is Laura Salgado, a venture capitalist played by “Lucifer” actor Aimee Garcia.
“So we asked the question, what happens when you bring money into the situation? And that’s where Aimee Garcia’s character comes in,” Morris said. “I don’t want to say too much about her character, but she has something that could really help his journey and could really help his progression in what it is he wants to do. And that may be financial. But can he do it again? That’s the thing. Can he do it? Can he handle it? Is there something he wants to do? So without saying too much about what she’s doing on the show, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers, she definitely comes in and changes things.”
As Variety reported last July, production on “Woke” Season 2 was shut down three times in Atlanta because of multiple positive COVID-19 tests, some of which were in “Zone A,” which in COVID-19 safety protocols means those present on set when the actors aren’t wearing masks, and the actors themselves. Per one source close to production, at least two positive Zone A cases were both unvaccinated people, a situation several TV shows faced over the past year as COVID-vaccination-status policies were rolled out and adjusted on a case-by-case basis.
“No, I don’t think vaccination status had anything to do with it,” said Morris.
Morris expanded on what happened during “Woke’s” production. “The first shutdown, that was a vaccinated person. I just remember it being so many people, because of contact tracing. A lot of it would be, someone would get COVID and they’d been around a good amount of people. So a lot of key departments had to shut down. And so you got to figure out how to rehire someone else, department heads and things like that. And even actors getting contact. None of the actors caught COVID, but there’s the contact tracing and so you got to go and sit out, if that’s what you have to do.”
When asked whether he is vaccinated against COVID-19, Morris bristled at the question at first, saying: “I mean, am I vaccinated? Uh, yeah. That’s a personal question. Who asks that question? What?” He then said that he is.
At the time of the third “Woke” shutdown, filming on the comedy, a co-production of Sony and ABC Studios, was suspended indefinitely with just a few episodes having been completed. However, production was able to resume and the eight-episode season was completed by the fall.
“We were scheduled to be there for two months and it took us a little over three,” Morris said of returning to finish out the season. “The shutdowns weren’t long, the problem with those shutdowns is scheduling for other things, for other folks who have to be other places for other projects.”
Without giving anything away, Morris says the plot of “Woke” Season 2 was not altered as a result of production shutdowns and time lost with actors.
“I won’t say it affected anything story-wise,” Morris said. “But there is a certain momentum and energy you have when you’re performing and you’re getting into a rhythm with cast and crew. It affected us production-wise. People going down with COVID, replacement folks that are stepping onto the set for the first time — I mean, literally for the first time — people in positions that hadn’t been in those positions before, having to pick up the slack for someone who is a veteran, who couldn’t be there because of COVID. So it definitely had its restraints. But I think when you’ve got some great leadership at the top, and our producers are pretty understanding folks and pretty experienced people and really good at what they do, we made it work.”
“Woke” is created by Marshall Todd and Keith Knight (whom the character Keef Knight is based on), who executive produce alongside Anthony King, Maurice “Mo” Marable, Richie Schwartz, John Will, Will Gluck and Eric Christian Olsen.
“Our story wasn’t unique, everyone was under the same gun,” Morris said. “But I think, especially watching TV now, watching trailers now and watching shows now, I’m like, ‘Man, surprisingly, everybody managed to figure it out.'”