The 35-year-old American actress, who has become a paparazzi target since it was revealed that she’s dating Prince Harry, penned an essay for Elle UK acknowledging she was initially “scared” to talk about her mixed-race heritage in public.
Growing up in the predominantly white suburbs of Los Angeles, Markle’s mother was “caramel in complexion with her light-skinned baby in tow, being asked where my mother was since they assumed she was the nanny,” the actress says.
Fast forward to Markle’s college years at Northwestern University. “I was home in L.A. on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver,” she writes.
In Hollywood, Markle envisioned a new start. “Being ‘ethnically ambiguous,’ as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role,” she says. “Morphing from Latina when I was dressed in red, to African American when in mustard yellow; my closet filled with fashionable frocks to make me look as racially varied as an ’80s Benetton poster. 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.”
Then Suits came along, “the Goldilocks of my acting career — where finally I was just right,” says Markle, who plays the whip-smart legal mind Rachel Zane on the series, which airs in Canada on Bravo.
In her essay, the Toronto-based actress details racist accounts she was forced to block on Twitter as a result of her role on Suits. And though she does not address her relationship with Prince Harry in the essay, Markle became an online target again thanks when rumours of the high-profile romance began to spread.
“His girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social-media trolls and web-article comments,” reads a statement released by Kensington Palace.
It continued: “Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle’s safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm. He knows commentators will say this is ‘the price she has to pay’ and that ‘this is all part of the game.’ He strongly disagrees. This is not a game — it is her life and his.”
Prince William swiftly put out a supportive statement of his own.