Meghan Markle, the Suits actress who is famously dating Prince Harry, opened up about the experience of being a biracial actress in a moving essay for Elle UK. In it she writes of her struggles to find a job, and how she never quite fit the Hollywood mold until she found her current role.
Growing up in Los Angeles with a white father and black mother, Markle struggled to figure out “what” she was as a child, she wrote. People on the streets assumed her mother was her nanny, and she didn’t know what box to tick for “race” on school forms. That confusion followed her to college and through the beginnings of her career. She was pegged “ethnically ambiguous” and was told she could audition for just about any role, from Latina to African-American.
“Sadly, it didn’t matter: I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn’t book a job.”
Markle went on to call Suits the “goldilocks” of her acting career, as the show’s producers weren’t looking for the typical “quintessential blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty” for their female lead. Instead, they were merely looking for someone who was the best fit for the role of Rachel Zane. “In making a choice like that, the Suits producers helped shift the way pop culture defines beauty. The choices made in these rooms trickle into how viewers see the world, whether they’re aware of it or not,” Markle wrote.
Now the actress is more comfortable with herself than ever before. Markle wrote, “While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”