To say Meghan Markle’s intro to Hollywood was a little unorthodox would be an understatement. In 2005, the Northwestern grad was auditioning for “Hot Girl No. 1” in the movie “A Lot Like Love.” “That was one of my very first auditions, and the role was just for a girl that says ‘Hi,’ ” Markle remembers. “I went in and was with the director, producers and casting and they asked, ‘Can you say ‘Hi’?’ I said, ‘I can, but I also read the script and really respond to this other character.’ ” The director, impressed by her forthcoming attitude, had more lines written into the script for Markle. “The moxie I had going into that was insane when I think about it now,” she admits.
Eight years after that audition, her star is quickly on the rise, thanks to that confidence and her role on USA’s hit legal drama “Suits.” The show, set in a high-profile New York City law firm, centers around brilliant lawyers Harvey Specter and Mike Ross. But here’s the twist: Ross is a fraud — he never went to law school. Markle plays Rachel Zane, Ross’ love interest and a clever paralegal with aspirations of becoming a full-fledged attorney. “The stakes are a lot higher for everybody at the firm, and for Rachel especially,” Markle says of the current season. “It doesn’t just mean that Mike could get caught. It would mean that it could affect their entire future.”
But Markle’s character isn’t just a pretty face, and according to the actress, she’ll soon be playing with the heavy hitters. “Rachel becomes the chick we met in the first episode of the series who was all about business and ambition. There are lots of moments where she goes head-to-head with Harvey and [managing partner] Jessica, which is amazing.”
On the surface, it’s easy to draw parallels between Rachel Zane’s down-to-business drive and Markle’s backbone. But there’s more to the 32-year-old LA-born beauty than a knack for dramatic legal dialogue. She’s about to showcase her comedic chops in a Hallmark romantic comedy called “Oh Say Can You See.” “I grew up loving all those Jennifer Aniston movies like ‘Picture Perfect.’ That’s the trajectory I would love to be on,” Markle says. “I’d love to be on a show and then be able to do this amazing project where you get to play. To be echoing that is fun and kind of apropos, because people call Mike and Rachel the new Ross and Rachel from ‘Friends.’ If I’m going to follow that lineage, it feels a little serendipitous.”
Though her character is typically confined to figure-hugging pencil skirts, Markle says her own style is in a state of flux. As a fairly new star, she’s just now being inundated with a surge of stylish swag from major luxury houses. “I had my first fashion ‘aha moment’ a few weeks ago,” she remembers. “I went to a fitting at Miu Miu and it was my first time realizing that clothes can be so transformative. Putting on this outfit was like drinking a glass of Champagne, I was so giddy and excited.” As for her everyday sense of style, it’s safe to say it’s evolved since her days on the Northwestern campus. “Talk about dichotomy,” she laughs. “I was looking at some of my old yearbook photos yesterday and the amount of makeup I had on trying to be put together for class was so silly. And the highlights in my hair? Those were just a shame. ”
But Markle more than made up for her collegiate fashion faux pas with a string of red carpet wins during New York Fashion Week in February. She even counts co-founder of The Coveteur Jake Rosenberg and Elle magazine Creative Director Joe Zee as her close friends. “Obviously my style has gotten a lot more refined. I understand the value of great tailoring.”
Now well on her way to becoming a fashion pro, TV’s chic paralegal shows off spring’s hottest trends.
Goshwara: earrings, $4,400; ring, $3,000
A. Marek: necklace, price upon request
Florals come back in style every spring, but this year they’re radiating soft pastel hues rather than the in-your-face bouquets of the past. Pair the blooming patterns, like this embroidered Oscar de la Renta dress, with plaids and breathable summertime wools. Choose accessories in complementary hues for an expertly paired ensemble.
Jill Sander: sweater, $1,360
Oscar de la Renta: dress, $6,490
Buccellati: earrings, $21,200, ring, $9,100
A. Marek: cuff, $26,500
Arguably one of spring’s biggest trends, soft blush radiates femininity. Juxtapose a sleek, modern cut, like Meghan’s daring Stella McCartney blazer, with a statement necklace for a powerful fashion punch. When it comes to makeup, strong, smoky eyes add serious drama to the delicate shade.
Stella McCartney: blazer, $1,700
Alexander McQueen: pants, $1,640
When designers unveiled this season’s collections, it looked like they had done some major spring cleaning: Embellished dresses and complex silhouettes were replaced with sharp, chic whites. Crisp white shirts, buttoned to the top, were paired with miniskirts; ivory shift dresses complemented black stilettos to create a stark, simple look. Add impact with subtle detailing and interesting accessories, like Meghan does with the Jimmy Choo clutch.
Oscar de la Renta: shirt, $1,190
Alexander Wang: skirt, $495
Jimmy Choo: clutch, $1,695
Céline: sunglasses, $335
Vendorafa: cuff, $36,000; necklace, $19,950
Cynthia Bach: ring, $9,550
Robin’s-egg blue swept Oscars best-dressed lists after Lupita Nyong’o wore a Prada gown in the hue. It’s a quintessential spring color, instantly giving any outfit a playful vibe. Accessorize with appropriate colors: Silver adds a contemporary accent to the delicate tone, black creates a dark, romantic mood and sparkles add vibrant energy.
A. Marek: earrings, $10,000; bracelet, $47,750
Cynthia Bach: necklace, $26,725
Carrera y Carrera: ring, $12,700
Robert Vogelsang: bangle, $21,250
Photographer: Maria Ponce
Stylist: Favia, Ford Artists
Hair: Daniel Rubin for Dennis Bartolomei Salon, Goldwell US
Makeup: Shannon O’Brien
Shoot Coordinator: Katerina Bizios
Shot on location at: Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 N. Stockton