Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Prime debut for Toni Morgan

Published:Tuesday | October 17, 2017 | 12:03 AMKimberley Small
A workout scene in Toni Morgan Haye's SYN, which debuted on October 6 on Amazon Prime Video.
A workout scene in Toni Morgan Haye's SYN, which debuted on October 6 on Amazon Prime Video.
An intense discussion on the set of Toni Morgan Haye's SYN.
Toni Morgan Haye
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Wearing the hats of director, producer and screenwriter, Toni Morgan Haye has begun her career with a running start. On October 6, with the premiere of SYN on Amazon Prime Video, Toni Morgan Haye became the first Jamaican filmmaker to debut on one of the world's largest broadcast networks.

"My ultimate goal is to show the world all the breathtaking stories that Jamaica has to give. There is just so much talent there and I believe the world needs to be exposed to that," Morgan Haye told The Gleaner.

SYN is a psychological thriller which weaves between two different time periods and centres on an amnesiac named Jess. The 10 episodes follow Jess' quest to reclaim her lost memories and, on a broader scale, how her very existence could alter the course of reality.

It is the only series Morgan Haye has written so far and is not set in Jamaica. The director intends to move future productions to her homeland. "My current slate consists of nine features, all to be shot in Jamaica and distributed both locally and internationally," Haye said. Her upcoming work will be a mix of action, comedy, horror and fantasy.

Morgan Haye also intends to utilise mainly Jamaican cast and crew.

She was adopted by her paternal grandmother and spent her childhood in the US. "I came back right around the time to start high school," she told The Gleaner.

While in Florida, Morgan Haye recalls getting books from the Broward County Library and then at eight or nine years old - the youngest of the group - winning the Reading Across Prize. She has also received the Royal Palm Literary Award, issued by the Florida Writers' Association.

"When I was at Merl Grove I remember my Religious Education teacher [Mrs. Dumas] gave us an essay to write. When she gave us our papers back I saw that my grade 99%. "I thought it was a joke. So I asked her why she didn't just give me the other on per cent and she said 'you are extremely talented Ms. Morgan Haye. I don't want you to feel like if you get the 100%, that's it," Morgan Haye said.

The young filmmaker has not visited Jamaica since studying at the secondary level.

Morgan Haye honed her production skills by doing a bit of everything. "Photography, videography, music videos, editing - you name it. What I eventually realised is that, like many people, I was focused on too many areas and needed to pick the few that were for me. That's how I ended up as a director, producer and screenwriter," she said.