Prior to last month, “Suits” actress Meghan Markle, 36, was deemed in a negative light as Prince Harry’s, 33, “biracial girlfriend from the hood.” But, now, after the recent announcement of Markle’s engagement to Britain’s prince, she is making headlines across the world as Prince Harry’s fiancée, and the residents of South Los Angeles couldn’t be more inspired by this Cinderella-like story of a local Black girl in the neighborhood who finds her prince!
Recently, Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper and L.A. Watts Times Publisher Danny Bakewell, Sr. spoke to the BBC News regarding Markle’s and Prince Harry’s engagement and the myths projected on the great district of Crenshaw.
“First of all it’s a beautiful thing – a young [Black] woman finding love, whether it’s with a prince or a pauper,” said Bakewell.
“This is a great family community, a very nurturing community. All you have to do is walk the area – it’s bustling.”
He goes on to say that critics who have not visited the Crenshaw area should stop by and visit.
“Casting aspersions on where her parents live or where she grew up – the majesty of the woman is in who she is and how she conducts herself,” he said. “Obviously she has something that makes her princess-like.”
Who is Meghan Markle?
On August 4, 1981 Rachel Meghan Markle was born to a Black mother, Doria Ragland and a White father, Thomas W. Markle. Today, her mother lives in View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood and works as a psychotherapist and yoga instructor, while her father works as an Emmy Award-winning lighting director. The two are no longer married.
During her childhood, Markle struggled with identifying her racial identity. She grew up during a time where the City of Los Angeles was “racially plagued” with incidents like the Rodney King beating and the Reginald Denny case; a time where riots overwhelmed neighborhoods and looting robbed the community of its own resources.
The idea of her racial identity tugging at her would follow Markle into her early life and acting career.
Markle’s early life involves growing up in the Hollywood area where she attended private schools Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and Immaculate Heart High School. Later, she enrolled in Northwestern University, where she graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre and international studies.
Markle always had dreams of becoming an actress. In fact, to financially support herself between early acting gigs, she took up a job as a freelance calligrapher. The young star also took on several contract acting and modeling jobs such as a “briefcase girl” on the game show “Deal or No Deal”.
In 2002, Markle received her big break when she appeared on an episode of the daytime soap opera, “General Hospital.” She also appeared in the Fox series “The Fringe”, as junior agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of Season 2.
Throughout Markle’s acting career, she experienced difficulty landing roles.
“Being ‘ethnically ambiguous’ as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role,” said Markle in an interview with Elle.
“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 80’s 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.”
In July on 2011, Markle landed a role on the USA Network show “Suits”, where she currently stars as Rachel Zane.
“This is precisely why ‘Suits’ stole my heart. It’s the Goldilocks of my acting career – where finally I was just right,” she said.
“’Dream girl’, in Hollywood terms had always been that quintessential blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty – that was the face that launched a thousand ships, not the mixed one. But the show’s producers weren’t looking for someone mixed, nor someone White or Black for that matter. They were simply looking for Rachel. In making a choice like that, the ‘Suits’ producers helped shift the way pop culture defines beauty.”
Later the actress took her acting career to the screen, where she appeared in, “Get Him to the Greek” (2010), “Remember Me” (2010), and “Horrible Bosses” (2011), as well as many other short films and television shows.
Aside from acting, Markle has stepped into other fields of the entertainment industry by founding and working as editor-in-chief of the lifestyle website, “The Tig”, which closed in April of this year. She also has an eye for fashion. In November of 2016, Markle partnered with Canadian clothing company, Reitmans to release a line of women’s fashion workwear.
Markle is a feminist and a philanthropist. In 2014, she worked as a counsellor for the international charity, One Young World.
Two years later, she became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, where she traveled to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign. She also worked as an advocate for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
A Budding Romance
Prior to Markle’s relationship with Prince Harry, she dated actor and producer Trevor Engelson. They married in September 2011 and divorced in August 2013 and had no children from the union.
A few years later, Markle and Prince Harry were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. The two soon began dating in June of 2016. Now, after one and a half years of dating, the Prince and his future bride-to-be are ready to wed!
Since the announcement of the royal engagement, the public has taken to social media to discuss the recent news.
“I think [their engagement] is an amazing representation of love and diversity,” said L.A. resident Briana Harris.
Sabrina Autry from Los Angeles also spoke on the matter.
“She was already royalty, and now everyone has to accept it publicly, and by she, I mean the Black woman from South L.A.,” she said.
Stephanie Fennell another South Los Angeles resident also spoke on the royal engagement.
“Meghan Markle is a biracial actress from L.A. who just got engaged to Prince Harry. However, history says she is not the first biracial or non-Caucasian to marry into the royal family. She is a departure from tradition in that she is biracial, a divorcee, an American and 3 years older than Harry. She is the only American to marry into royalty since Grace Kelly. Harry has always been his own person. They will be fine.”
“I think Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s engagement is a wonderful thing. It shows that love is color blind and kids will see this as an inspiration,” said South L.A. resident Rodney Hayes.
The royal wedding date is set for spring of 2018 at the St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England.
Once married to Prince Harry, Markle will retire from her acting career, confirming she will not be returning to the eighth season of “Suits.”