On Wednesday night, Shemar Moore fans had to suddenly say goodbye to his longest-running character yet: beloved, sweet-talking FBI agent Derek Morgan on CBS’s hit series Criminal Minds. His departure from a show so close to his heart has left many wondering what big plans he has in store, and whether or not the gorgeous, beach-loving bachelor will finally settle down. We called to ask, and you’re really going to like his answer.
ESSENCE: Derek Morgan is no more?! Congrats on a stupendous three-episode arc exit!
SHEMAR MOORE: Yes, it’s been wild. It’s been wild. I’ve been off the show since February 10th, but it’s just been this big secret. People ask me all the time how I feel … friends, people close to me, whatever. I’m like I don’t think it’s hit me, not just that I’ve left, but that it’s been11 years. It’s taking this leap of faith. Just knowing what I got the opportunity to do for 11 years, and the culmination and the way I was able to walk off into the sunset in the final episode. Feels good!
ESSENCE: Your fans were very upset over your departure on social media.
MOORE: The response from all the fans, it has really been wonderful, endearing, overwhelming, touching, emotional. It’s just a trip. It made me somewhat emotional just because they care that much. That’s just a good feeling because I know what I’ve put into it for the last 11 years.
ESSENCE: They didn’t kill you off, which I know was a relief for fans. Did you have a part in that decision about how you left the show?
MOORE: I remember around season five just feeling like I’m ready to challenge myself and take another step. I treat my acting career like school. Like Young and the Restless is high school, and Criminal Minds is college, and now I’m ready for grad school. By the time I got to that elevator scene it was kind of closure. I will say I’m excited about my future and possibilities, but if I was invited back to dance and play with those guys again, then the elevator doors might just reopen.
ESSENCE: What’s next?
MOORE: I don’t know. There’s still a lot I want to do in front of the camera. I want to see what I’m capable as far as storytelling. Would I like to be a movie star? I don’t pursue the star part of it. If that happens, that happens. That’d be cool. I I’m interested in cable television because I like the quality of the writing, the caliber of actors that you get to be a part of. I love what I do for a living, and I’ve done it for 22 years. I hope to do it for another 22 years, but also there’s other things that have eluded me in my private and personal life that I also want a chance at. Right now, all I’m doing is taking a break. I do have a movie that I produced that’ll be coming. I have some other ideas that I want to try to bring into fruition. To me this is just a little exhale moment to catch my breath, be proud of what I’ve accomplished, refuel, and then just get excited to come do it again.
ESSENCE: Does that mean there will be a Mrs. Shemar Moore in your near future? The fans are waiting for that moment.
MOORE: I hope so. Derek Morgan got on that elevator and he made a choice. He had a chance at that part of his life. He went off to be a father, which he didn’t have because his father died when he was 10, and he has a chance to go be a husband. Now Shemar Moore has to catch up to Derek Morgan, and I’m working on that.
ESSENCE: We love that you and your mom are besties. What does she want you to do next?
MOORE: My mother’s so proud of me, but she hates how dark the show is. “Can you just go fall in love or play a doctor or a teacher?” she’d say. She wants grandbabies, and she just wants to see me laugh a lot. She wants to see me travel. She knows how serious I take my career and how hard I believe that I work. She’s very proud of what I’ve accomplished, but she also wants me to just enjoy life. I just want to keep paying for her beachfront condo.