Part two of our Growing Admiration Series is an interview with Morgan Simone. A young fitness/health maven and NYU student with a love for plant-based eating, Morgan’s passion for her entrepreneurial dream is contagious. We admire her drive and her commitment to spreading a healthier lifestyle.
Morgan Simone is everything a 21 year old should be. She’s a vibrant and optimistic student at New York University, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in individualized study. Even over the phone, her energy is contagious; she laughs loudly and talks freely, simultaneously articulate and slangy.
But, Morgan is also what no one expects a 21 year old to be. Not only is she an incredibly disciplined and determined urbanite with a bi-coastal network (quite literally—L.A. and NYC are her bases, and she travels between the two as often as she can), she’s also a budding entrepreneur with a unique voice and a studied passion for spreading her health knowledge and achieving her vision.
Succinctly put, Morgan is quite a find. As an educated, young, hip, vegan, black woman, she has a unique voice in the health and wellness realm. In her own well-designed words, Morgan is focused on easy, cost-efficient ways of living one’s healthiest life, specifically for young millennials. Nutritions, she avows, is the key to empowering yourself and to living your best life.
In her opinion, your best life is achieved by plant-based eating and veganism. She tells me, “Anytime someone says they want to incorporate more foods from the earth, I get elated!” She is also a proponent of moving and training your body. She identifies as a ‘movement specialist’, and wants to change people’s mindset about fitness, underlining how training your body is a type of art, rather than merely a necessity for health.
In truth, understanding movement as art is where it all began for Morgan. It’s how she came to identify her ‘life-long passion’ for nutrition and fitness.
As many girls are, Morgan was fitted in a leotard and pink tights and shoved into a ballet studio at a very young age. There was no denying her talent or her love for it. In the beginning, exercising entered her routine for the sake of being fit for dance, although it quickly evolved into something she loved outside of pink tights.
When she got into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts dance program—rated amongst the top five dance programs in the United States—she quickly packed her bags and moved to Manhattan. As per her perfectionist character, Morgan soared through her freshman year of college, but the whole time, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
So, instead of half-heartedly sticking it out (as many of us are prone to do), she hightailed it to Los Angeles and enrolled in the Edge Performing Arts Center Program as her peers started their second year of NYU. After a few months and for various reasons, she left the Edge. But, because she signed a lease, she decided to stay in LA for the full year.
Having ditched the traditional education path and chosen to take a break from further dance training (she currently identifies as a “temporarily retired dancer”), she put her heart and soul into what was previously considered side hobbies—fitness and nutrition.
In truth, it was a case of right time, right place, right people. It was the right time—she was trying to find herself and find change. She was in the place to do it—L.A. is, after all, the world’s center for fitness and nutrition. And the community of trainers and health experts she associated with were exactly the right people. In almost no time at all, these passions paid her back in quantities beyond measure.
So, she decided to go full force, and she enrolled in her first bodybuilding competition. Like most of the pursuits of her life, she excelled. However, much more impactful than her success, was the training itself. She says that training for the competition changed her life completely, and the reason was two-fold. First, her diet was intensely healthy. And second, she was put in a position to push herself physically, mentally, and emotionally to an unprecedented level.
Post competition, circumstances arose that took Morgan from L.A. and from her health and fitness community. Because of this, she sank into a depression. Ironically, it was during this darker period of her life that she found clarity. From this experience, she says, “I now know I feel my best self when I’m taking care of myself. So I vowed that I would share that same feeling with other people—the feeling of feeling good in my own body.”
When I interviewed Morgan, she was still in process of creating her website—the main platform through which she plans to share that good feeling. July and August were months of systematically planning out how to position herself and the brand, identifying money-making opportunities, and deciding what she does and doesn’t want to represent.
Now, however, MORSIM has launched. On the website, she provides information about transitioning to plant-based eating, her personal training regimes, recipes, and blog posts. Eventually, it will also contain recipe e-books and meal plans tailored towards the young, healthy person.
What’s amazing about Morgan is that, as she’s launching her new website and posting on social media faithfully, she’s also a full time student. When I asked about her daily schedule, I was astonished at her strict dedication to fulfilling both roles.
At 4:00 a.m., her alarm clock goes off. Then, from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., she exercises. (That’s three hours longer than the average human being.) She begins with a run, and then goes to the gym, doing a variety of exercises. It’s more than pumping some iron; Morgan’s developing her own workouts and incorporating her academic and personal understanding of the body into her training.
From 10:00 am to 2:00/3:00 p.m., she’s at school. Sometimes she’s at work. Sometimes, she’s doing homework. Sometimes, she’s developing a business plan. Never is she wasting time.
The early afternoons usually consist of a photography shoot with someone, and the evenings consist of reading, studying, and researching to learn and develop her health theories. By 10:00 p.m., she’s in bed. Six hours later, her alarm goes off. Repeat.
It’s an unusually regimented schedule, so I ask Morgan why she does it. What motivates her to complicate the already crazy schedule of an NYU student by adding an entrepreneurial pursuit?
She answers that, simply, she does it because she believes people should love themselves—especially in the world we live in. “Long story short,” she tells me, “I’m passionate about helping young people take care of their bodies. We’re the leaders of the future world, and I think we need to know how to nurture ourselves.”
She explains more fully, saying that food is an immensely personal thing. We all have a type of relationship with it because we all need it to survive. Food permeates through everything in our life—our basic need for it connects us physically and the experience of dining connects communities socially. She says, “Food keeps the mind and body going. We need to consume the healthiest version of it to be who we’re meant to be.”
Later on in her career, she intends to gear her health and wellness services particularly towards people of color. She tells me that people of color specifically have the highest amounts of food-related diseases, like diabetes. Additionally, there are food deserts in poor neighborhoods, which, she describes, is both real and systematic. Morgan explicates, “We keep going to medicine to solve things. But food should be the medicine first, the health system second.” She wants to help people of color become their best selves, specifically through engaging in proper care of their bodies.
And of course, she wants to move back to her favorite city in the world, L.A. After she graduates from school, she’d love to have a home in Los Angeles but still travel around the U.S. She adds laughing, “I want that laptop life, where I can run a business from my computer, but still have a home to come to.”
It’s these future goals that are the best part about entrepreneurship for Morgan—the vaguer, the better. She says, “I can get excited about future possibilities that I don’t know about yet. I have no idea where this is going to go, and that’s exciting to me.” She’s willing and ready to step up to the plate to become a leader and a new voice in the health and wellness realm.
At the end of the day, Morgan is just beginning her journey. Still, this project is the result of years of thought, and she has just now started executing ideas. “Ideas are always gonna come,” she elucidates, “but good execution is rare…it’s rewarding when you get the small things done.”
Execution is also the scary part. Although I don’t point that out to her. Instead, I nod to her courage, and ask her what her favorite hobby is.
She laughs and responds cheekily, “Can exercising count?”
To which I have to respond, “Yes,” out of sheer admiration. Surely, this is the kind of passion that the world stops and listens to.