Based on a play by Zoe Akins, a confident young actress strives to get a break on Broadway and succeeds.
Eva Lovelace (Katharine Hepburn) is looking for her first part in New York at the office of producer Lewis Easton. She does not believe in marriage for an artist and gets Robert Hedges (C. Aubrey Smith) to give her acting lessons. Rita Vernon (Mary Duncan) tells Easton (Adolphe Menjou) she wants her part re-written, while playwright Joe Sheridan (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) hides from her. Easton invites her to dinner, and she accepts the part. Then she comes back and tells Easton and Sheridan she wants to star in the Molnar play. Easton gives Hedges a part. Eva shows Easton and Sheridan her letter from G. B. Shaw. She expects to be famous and plans to kill herself on stage at the end of her career. Now she will work for $20 per week.
At the opening night party Rita thanks the jealous Easton for the necklace. Hedges brings Eva, and she apologizes to Easton she was not good in the part she lost; she tells Sheridan she will only take parts that fit her. A drunk writer gives her champagne, and she meets a critic. Eva dances with Sheridan and tipsily rambles on as she sits by Easton. Eva declares herself a great actress and performs Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy and Juliet on the balcony to prove it. Then she kneels by Easton and passes out. In the morning Sheridan shows Easton the good notices and discovers Eva in his apartment. Easton asks Sheridan to give her an apartment and says that he cannot cast her "that way." Sheridan is disappointed, and Eva tells him she wants to be alone and to help Easton.
After her stock company closes, Eva plays vaudeville bits and even models lingerie. Before the opening of Sheridan's translation of the Molnar play with Rita and Hedges, Sheridan gives Rita some notes. Rita tells Easton she has not asked for much because she knew Sheridan did not want her; but now she wants $1500 a week and a long-run contract. Sheridan tells Easton that Eva can play the part. Rita leaves, and Sheridan helps Eva get ready. Eva wins applause and is praised. She apologizes to Easton and says he is in her heart; but he tells her to be professional instead. Hedges tells Eva to work so that she won't be just a "morning glory." Eva tells Sheridan that only he understands her, and he tells Eva he loves her. In the final scene Eva tells her attendant who was a morning glory that she is not afraid of that.
This story portrays the struggles of actors during the depression. Hepburn herself had been fired from four plays before they opened; so she clearly had the experience for this role, which won her an Oscar.