The newly engaged actress discusses the travails of being a biracial actress and the importance of finding serenity within
To say that Meghan Markle is beautiful would be stating the obvious, but the actress is as beautifully demure, down to earth and, quite simply, kind, in a way that is both refreshing and rare in our selfie-obsessed age of “me.” Previously she was best known for her role as Rachel Zane on Suits, but all anyone is talking about now is her recent royal engagement to Britain’s Prince Harry.
I meet Markle at one of downtown Toronto’s private clubs, after what she explains has been a long day of back-to-back meetings and contract signings. It’s evident the day has been trying, but she graciously allows me to select our wine and share plate options before we get down to business.
Actress, editor, daughter, friend, dog owner, UN global ambassador… her list of titles is extensive. Markle responds hesitantly as I inquire about all the hats she wears. “I don’t sit around thinking about my titles and roles, I just do what feels right,” she says.
With all of her travels and extra-curriculars, it’s a wonder the actress finds down-time. With the royal engagement announced, she’ll no doubt be cherishing any moments of quiet she can squeeze in. “It’s a challenge, without question,” she states, pausing to close her eyes and delight in a bite of extra spicy grilled calamari. “Recently I learned the art of saying ‘no.’ Everyone tells you to strike when the iron’s hot, which is hard not to get sucked into. There comes a time when we need to say, ‘I have to take some time for me.’ I came to a point where I didn’t feel like I had a moment to breathe, so I had to learn gradually to give myself some quietude.”
What are some of the practical things this busy woman does to stay grounded and remind herself to refocus? “I love Russell Simmons’s Meditation Made Simple app. It easily encourages you to quiet your mind. From a practical sense, I’ve learned to vacate on a plane, which is huge because I travel so much.”
Avoiding flights with wifi, she allows herself a few hours of recharge time, watching movies or enjoying a glass of wine. “It’s the little things that feel like minutia, but at the end of the day, I can perform everything else so much better,” Markle muses. “At this point of my life, everything I’m doing I’m really passionate about. So even when it’s exhausting, I still enjoy it because it’s purpose driven. But I’ve also realized that if I didn’t find that inner quiet, my inner peace, I might not be able to do it all. Now, at the end of a crazy day, I can sit down with a good friend, take a load off, breathe a sigh of relief, let go and begin anew.”
As soon as rumors of a relationship between the actress and the Prince started making the rounds, a lot was made of her mixed-race heritage. L.A.-born and raised, Markle is an only child of a black mother and white father. “My mom is a yoga instructor, 100% black with dreadlocks,” she reveals. “And when people find out my mother is black, there is often this disconnect and sometimes disbelief. It took me a long time to find myself.”
An opinionated youth, her mother allowed her to explore the things that would bring her happiness: “Flower, you will find your practice,” she would say. Looking intense, Markle says, “There are days where I’m stressed out and think: I have to hit my mat. I need to work through my stuff and quiet my mind. The health benefits and all that other stuff comes afterward.”
A natural beauty and gifted actress, being biracial often left her in a grey place on the cusp of both worlds. But being neither “black enough” or “white enough” while auditioning led to being turned away for roles all too often.
“I could get into twice as many rooms, but was turned down twice as often as many of my peers,” she says. “It’s that dichotomy that we can go through: ‘What are you? Where do you fit in? I want to put you in this box and I want you to stay there.’ I never want to complain. I get that so many people have it worse than I do. But it took me deep into my twenties to come to the realization that I am ‘enough’ exactly as I am, and I don’t have to be more or less of anything for other people.”
Little did Markle know so many years ago that the age of “no” was about to be turned on its head.
When Markle and I sat down for this interview, the idea of a royal engagement wasn’t yet on the horizon. On pondering her future, she lights up and confesses that she never imagined a life as amazing as hers has turned out. “To try to dream of what more it can be? I can hardly conceive of it. It’s not so much about setting goals for things, because I trust that with my temperament and my drive, these beautiful things will continue to manifest.”
We end on a quiet, somewhat contemplative note, and she says, “As my friend Gina reminds me, ‘Honey, you gotta leave room for magic.’ ”
Meghan Markle, the magic found you and I couldn’t be happier for you. You deserve it.