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Meghan Markle

The Suits actress on politics, passion and permuting beauty standards

Suits actress Meghan Markle is not one to sit lightly, waiting for opportunities to come her way—she goes after them. Nowadays, with everyone gunning for a place in the spotlight, it takes talent, discipline and determination to truly make it—and Markle knows it. “Don’t give it five minutes if you’re not going to give it five years,” she said when asked about the best piece of advice she has ever received. “If you start falling out of it before that, someone else is going to stick in the game longer, and they are going to end up with the dream that you potentially gave up on.”

Indeed, Markle has not given it five minutes, and her dream of becoming a successful, respected actress has come to fruition. She currently stars in the hit television series Suits on the USA Network, playing the similarly career-driven Rachel Zane. But before getting this plum gig, she hit the pavement, going up for roles that were less than stellar, to say the least. “My very first audition was for the movie A Lot Like Love, for Hot Girl #1, and her only line was, ‘Hi,’” Markle recounted. “I then said that I read the script and responded to another role, and how I’d rather really read for that.”

Impressed by her hutzpah, the director of the film ended up writing something in the script just for her. “And that’s how I ended up with two little scenes,” she said. It is this same steadfastness that propels her do so much more with her increasing notoriety. She started a blog, The Tig, to parlay all her passions in one space, and regularly promotes causes that she believes in.

“I started working with UN Women a couple of years ago as an advocate for women’s political participation and leadership,” she said. “I’m lucky that the show has become really successful, and now that my profile has grown, people want to listen to what I have to say.” This is why she feels a big responsibility to convey something that is valuable, and, as she said, “find a balance between this [the entertainment] industry, which can be so surface, and still have something to talk about that is anchored in things that are more purpose-driven.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Markle saw the inner workings of Hollywood first hand. Everyday after school, she would visit her father—director of photography—on the set of the television series Married With Children, where she “fell in love with the environment of television.” Eventually, she headed East and double majored in theater and international relations at Northwestern University. “In many ways, the entertainment industry and politics are comparable,” she explained. “They’re both their own versions of negotiating drama, and being able to narrate and translate something in a way that makes sense to other people.”

With this in mind, it seems almost prescient that her first major role would be Rachel on Suits, a goal-oriented, charismatic lawyer. Though they do have their obvious differences (Rachel is certainly more emotional and lovelorn—especially in season 5), both are resolute in what they want in life, staying in the game for the long haul. To be sure, neither of them is giving it five minutes.


Summarizing Suits

What qualities do you share with your character Rachel on Suits?
We’re both super ambitious. Rachel is also very sensitive, and wears her heart on her sleeve. She certainly cries more than I do. I was really drawn to the character in the same way that I’m drawn to all the female characters written for the series. Our creator, Aaron Korsh, had done an incredible job of crafting female characters that are strong and dynamic. Rachel wasn’t just written as the love interest. She had her own life outside of that. I think, now, that’s more present in the landscape of television. But at the time that our show premiered, this was still more of a rarity. So I’m really proud to part of this kind of programming.    

Your character has been going through a tough ordeal in her relationship lately. Why do you think she’s having such a hard time?
The stakes are so high for Rachel. In the beginning of the first season, we see her as solely career-oriented. She doesn’t see Mike Ross coming into her world. She isn’t expecting that. And then we see them playing this game of cat and mouse as a couple. We see her striving to become a lawyer, to pass the bar. Now, because it’s the 5th season, things had to come to a head. Without giving way too much because a lot of international fans aren’t caught up, season 5 had a finite ending that has deep repercussions on Rachel’s life. That said, how could she not be affected by how high the stakes are. Season 6 is going to be really interesting for her. All I do know is that we’re going to pick up the storyline in real-time. There’s no time cut. We are going to see what immediately happens after where we left off.

Hidden agendas and secrets play a big role on Suits. Do you think that’s a reflection of lawyers, or society as a whole? 
The show was originally written about Wall Street. The USA Network loved the script, they loved these characters, but they wanted the environment to be something that the viewers can connect to more, and legal shows do well; medical shows do well. That said, Aaron decided to put it in a context that makes sense to viewers. He had come from a Wall Street background, so that lends itself more to the deception that is seen on the show. And then he put us in the framework of being lawyers. It’s a different world. I don’t know if it’s a reflection of lawyers specifically. I think it’s just a part of human nature. Also, if you are creating a show that is meant to have layers of drama, you got to have conflict. And deception is a really easy way to create conflict…unfortunately.

  Photo: Hans Neumann - Styling: Barry Samaha - Makeup: Tina Turnbow - Hair: Michael Silva

Photo: Hans Neumann - Styling: Barry Samaha - Makeup: Tina Turnbow - Hair: Michael Silva


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Beauty Banter

Why did you decide to start your own lifestyle website, The Tig?
I started The Tig about two years ago. The impetus was to share my travel, fashion and food passions—things like that. People on social media were always asking me where they should go on vacation, or the best restaurant they should go to. So, to create a hub to do all that was important to me. I also wanted to create a space to redefine what beauty is. I write a lot of think pieces—that’s how I started working with UN Women. They reached out to me after reading some of them. Being able to fill a space online with something positive and inspiring was important to me.    

So how are you looking to redefine beauty?
I think that in my industry there is such a focus on the exterior. So being able to talk about self-empowerment, or for young girls to know their worth are the key messages. I want to remind young women that they are enough exactly as they are, and not to have a false comparison to things that are seen in the morphed world of social media. People are just Photoshopping everything, which is a false reality. This is why it is important for me to remind young women that they are beautiful as they are, outside of all that.  

Why did you decide to start your own lifestyle website, The Tig?
I started The Tig about two years ago. The impetus was to share my travel, fashion and food passions—things like that. People on social media were always asking me where they should go on vacation, or the best restaurant they should go to. So, to create a hub to do all that was important to me. I also wanted to create a space to redefine what beauty is. I write a lot of think pieces—that’s how I started working with UN Women. They reached out to me after reading some of them. Being able to fill a space online with something positive and inspiring was important to me.    

So how are you looking to redefine beauty?
I think that in my industry there is such a focus on the exterior. So being able to talk about self-empowerment, or for young girls to know their worth are the key messages. I want to remind young women that they are enough exactly as they are, and not to have a false comparison to things that are seen in the morphed world of social media. People are just Photoshopping everything, which is a false reality. This is why it is important for me to remind young women that they are beautiful as they are, outside of all that.  

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Suiting Up In Style

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style has evolved. As with everyone, it has changed over time. I’ve always had a classic sensibility. I love tonal, monochromatic dressing. And if I do wear something that is trend-driven, it will be peppered into my wardrobe—key essentials that I know fit my body well. I’m an LA girl, so I love distressed jeans. I love beautiful heels with a great blazer and a silk button-down. I gravitate toward a classic, chic way of dressing that I think has grown up as I have grown up.      

Who are you style icons, and why?
I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s style. She really knows her figure, and what works for her, but she also takes risks. I also really love how Naomi Watts dresses. Jessica Alba makes great choices on the red carpet. I think it’s about really knowing your body.  

What are the key items that every woman needs in her wardrobe?
You have to have, of course, a little black dress, but find one with a more interesting detail. Yes, it can be safe and classic, but it’s better to find something with interest that really works for you. In the same vein, a great black blazer is a staple. Some vegan leather pants. I love cropped ones with a cigarette fit. Jeans that make you feel amazing. And one pair of killer heals. I don’t even care what color they are. You have to have a pair of shoes that make you feel like you can take on the day.  

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Meghan’s Favorite Places in New York City

I love this restaurant called Bohemian. It is unbelievable. It is pretty close to the Bowery Hotel, tucked behind a Japanese butcher shop. If you don’t have a reservation, you can’t even enter the restaurant, as there may be only 12 seats available. It’s impeachable Japanese food. I love to surprise people, and take them there. It’s truly a hidden gem in New York.

I also love Madison Square Park. When I first started working as an actress, my agent’s office was right across the street. So, before and after auditions, I would sit at the park and run trough my lines. I have great memories there.

I love Ladurée in SoHo. It’s like a little slice of Paris in the middle of New York City.  It is absolutely beautiful, and the courtyard is awesome. Everyone should get the Coupe SoHo, which is this amazing salted caramel ice cream. It’s delicious!

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