Like his character in the TBS comedy series The Last OG, comedian and actor Tracy Morgan has been given a second chance by the universe to do right by the women in his life. But unlike his television alter ego, Tray Barker, Morgan refuses to jeopardize it offscreen.
Sitting beneath an unblemished Brooklyn sky just days before the second season premiere, Morgan cleaves to his wife and daughter stressing to ESSENCE how much he values their presence in his life.
After nearly losing his opportunity to serve as a protector and provider to a fatal car accident, Morgan is clear about his mission to both his family and his community. Instead of a swanky launch party full of free cocktails and preening influencers, The Last OG chose to partner with GrowNYC to overhaul the Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant.
“I’ve got to be there! You know how important it is for me and my wife? When I got hit by that Walmart truck…my daughter was only 10 months old. I know I’ve got to be here for her; in the world we’re living in today,” he said of his now 5-year-old daughter, Maven.
The themes explored in The Last OG centered on the dynamic between estranged co-parents, who are struggling to trust one another’s intentions, couldn’t be further from his own experience. Recently released from incarceration, Morgan’s character Barker is just getting to know his daughter, Amira, as she blossoms into a young Black woman full of sass and curiosity.
Off camera in the Brooklyn garden, Morgan keeps a watchful eye on his youngest child, guiding her through flower beds and patches of grass as the sun glimmers off of her gold vest. The second the interview is over, Maven runs over to Daddy, ignoring the other children present for her favorite playmate. She is precious to him — every onlooker can see it and it’s not hard to imagine that she knows it too.
“Daddy is the most important part of a little girl’s life,” states Morgan.
“Because daddy is the first relationship she’s gonna have with a male outside of sex. Every woman standing here, when a man looks at them, they know that look. They know he wants something. But Daddy is gon’ look at you with loving eyes!” Morgan explained. “And that’s what she needs, to know love from the gate. That’s the standard.”
The stand-up comedian noted that upholding that standard doesn’t just extend to the bond between father and daughter, but also the bond between man and wife.
“When I married [Megan Wollover] I went like this,” he said while placing an invisible crown atop his wife’s head. “So that’s the queen bee.”
Morgan noted that the strength of their relationship allows them to be better parents. While Barker and his children’s mother Shay, portrayed by Tiffany Haddish, are finding their groove between a household and halfway house, Morgan and his wife seemed to have found their way beside one another.
“Me and [my wife] are friends and that’s a big thing in co-parenting. When the kids see both parents get along, it gives them confidence,” Morgan said. “My parents are still together; so many homes is split! So many homes are split even when the parents [are] together! It’s just split. United we stand, divided we fall.”
The Last OG premieres on TBS tonight.