Wednesday's episode, "The Queen's Gambit," marks the actress's directorial debut, something that she's been inspired to do ever since she saw her former costar Henry Ian Cusick direct an episode back in season 4 of The CW's post-apocalyptic drama.
"I remember being really impressed by his savviness and his creative ambition to take that on," Morgan tells EW. "We had a female director that I really enjoyed working with, Mairzee Almas, and she told me that I could do it. At that time I didn't believe I could, I didn't think I had the prowess in me, but I did have the spark in the sense of this would be such a cool new challenge. I'd love to learn as much as I can about it and we'll see."
Dean Buscher/The CW
For the next two seasons, Morgan shadowed directors. "One was a new mom and I would ask her about her advice on her career and how she does it all," Morgan says. "I was like, 'How do you have a newborn and are directing episodic television?' And she was just like, 'You've just got to do it and anything is possible.' And I shadowed Amanda Tapping also who was an actress and then became a director. Those female figures really stuck out to me like, wow, if they could do it, I could do it."
Having successful female director role models helped give Morgan the confidence she needed to finally put herself out there. "The women before me have all done this and done phenomenal work, and I too could follow in their footsteps," she says. "But I was slow. It took me about three years until I really worked up the courage to vie for one of the slots in the season."
That's why the actor believes it's a "necessity" to have more female directors get opportunities in TV and film, so others like her can see that it's possible for them to step behind the camera.
"It's incredibly rare," she says of seeing female directors on set. "But I always appreciated as an actress having a female director or female perspective in the room, because I felt like they understood me as an actor and as an actress and my emotional process a bit more. They approach directing a little bit different than the male counterparts which, you know, maybe because I'm a female myself, I resonated with. Each male and female have their assets that they bring but film is a mirror to our lives and our world, and I have so much female energy and perspective and influence in my life and I want to bring that also to the screen more."
And now that Morgan has directed her first TV episode, she's proud of how she was able to adapt no matter what challenges were thrown her way.
"Directing felt a lot like sailing a ship, and you have your course and you know the weather and you planned everything and you brought snacks. You really plotted your trajectory," she says with a laugh. "And then you're in the sea, and a storm comes, or a shark, or someone gets bitten by a jellyfish! And you just have to constantly adapt to the new situation at hand and adjust your sails to whatever comes. With every episode and every film set, there are challenges or obstacles and for me, it was things I didn't ever see coming, I didn't plan for, but I'd have to adjust on the fly and adapt and try to make every new decision an opportunity to make the overall project better. But it was tough because I'm a planner, so I definitely had to work on my spontaneity and resourcefulness."
The 100 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.