The first time I saw Meghan Markle on TV was in the role of FBI Agent Amy Jessup in the brilliant sci-fi series Fringe. She stepped in while the lead female agent (following an abrupt return from the parallel universe remained in a coma. In this role, Meghan was just the right mix of feminine and intelligent, non-frilly and wide-eyed and everyone was sorry the character was short-lived in the series. As Rachel in the successful multi-season series Suits, she brings those same qualities to the screen, captivating fans across the globe.
In real life, however, Meghan is more than the sum of those parts. She’s beautiful, to be sure, but she’s also the kind of person who will leave a mark on this planet. Deeply invested in women’s rights, with a keen and genuine sense of humanitarianism and a culturally diverse arsenal of anecdotes due in part to her love of travel and food, Meghan—entirely focused on our conversation while prepping for this photo shoot—is an absolute pleasure.
YYZ: Today’s shoot concept is about being a woman— at once powerful and vulnerable, balancing femininity and strength. You are a champion for gender equality, so what does the empowerment of women mean to you personally?
MEGHAN: My perspective evolves. I just turned 34 recently and as I’ve gotten older, I have found that you can be a feminist and also be feminine—that those two things can coexist. I think it is often just a misunderstanding that one is advocating for women’s rights and suddenly has to be completely covered up and wearing a pantsuit, for example. You can be taken seriously and you can be a sexual person. You can feel empowered in that regard or in your intellectual prowess—and I don’t feel they are mutually exclusive of each other. That’s really the joy of being a woman—we are multidimensional, and layered, and that’s what makes it interesting.
How did you get involved in politics and humanitarianism in the first place? Did it find you or did you seek it out? I was about twelve years old when I saw this commercial on TV that was obviously sexist and I wrote all these letters to Proctor & Gamble, Hillary Clinton, and Gloria Allred. In the end, they changed the commercial, so I think I’ve always had this loud little voice inside. I was the youngest member of the National Organization for Women. As I got older, I studied International Relations at Northwestern University and worked for the US Embassy, so I think organizations were able to see that, and realize that even though I am now an actor, there was this other narrative that went back to public service.
I wrote an article called “Independence Day” on my website, The Tig.com, last year for the Fourth of July. The next day I received an email from the Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of U.N. Women saying, “We love what you are using your platform to We want to work with you.” So we had a conference call and I said to them “I have a week off, can I come and shadow at U.N. Women headquarters?” So they got me the security clearance and I started working there. Soon after that, I gave the speech for International Women’s Day. When you are doing something authentic and purpose driven, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to seek it out—it will find you. That’s really humbling and exciting.
It’s evident in your website—wholly run, populated, and maintained by you—that you are something of a renaissance woman with diverse interests and prolific talents. You’re also self-described and widely proclaimed online to be something of a ‘foodie,’ which is supported by your numerous posts on culinary experiences and interviews you’ve conducted with great chefs. So, tell me: where and what is the best restaurant in the world? This is a lofty question. There is a Thai restaurant called Chote Chitr, about a 20-minute ride outside of Bangkok. It’s run by this older woman who makes amazing local dishes. There are about seven tables and it’s probably the most inexpensive meal you will have in your life.
I heard about it listening to NPR one day, and when I was there I took a Tuk-Tuk down and just sat there and ate what pad thai is really supposed to taste like on this small stool in the suburbs of Bangkok. Food tastes even better when it’s been coloured by the whole experience—by the entire environment. One of my favourite restaurants in the world is Le Coq Rico in Paris that has this amazing Poulet de Bresse and the best frites, I love French fries and I eat them far too much. My God, they just redid Cafe Boulud at The Four Seasons in Toronto. It’s like a cozy French-y, cool feeling bar and they serve roast chicken and fries, so I can get into quite a bit of trouble there with a lazy afternoon of frites and Chablis. With The Tig, 1 love talking to Michelin star chefs, and I love gastronomy and the art that goes into that… but at the end of the day, I want food that’s just delicious and not so precious. Flock is one of my local favs for an easy and delicious meal. It reminds me of how we eat in LA—fresh, flavorful, and not fussed over.
And if you could go somewhere right now, this very second? The Rockhouse in Negril for jerk chicken and ice-cold Red Stripe beer. You’ve heard about the recently announced Drake and Susur Lee collaboration. Well, if you were to open your own restaurant who would be your dream partner?
I would say that as much as I love the food industry and love chefs, I have zero interest getting involved in it. I think it’s an unforgiving industry and it reminds me of this quote from Jeffrey Skoll (the guy who started Participant Media). He said, “The fastest way to become a millionaire is to be a billionaire who invests in movies.” I think the same can be said for the restaurant industry, so I would pass on that even though there are people I would love to collab with. Though just wait—I bet I will eat my words one of these days and be deep in the trenches of owning a restaurant. You never Imow… You’ve been living here in Toronto for five years now, right? That’s right, this is my fifth year!
Congratulations, you are an honourary Torontonian! I love it here. And we will be here for another few years, we’ve already signed for a seventh season [of Suits] and will hopefully do eight! Fingers crossed. So what do you love about this city and what do you hate about this city? And what’s uniquely Torontonian? Saying ‘sorry.’ Everyone still apologizes all the time and even though I do feel like an honourary Canadian, little things like that remind me that I am not in the states. Everyone is so endlessly polite, which I appreciate.
I love how friendly people are and how diverse Toronto is; it was really important for me, especially being from LA and being mixed, to not go somewhere homogenous. Where is your niche in this city? In the first year, I lived at the Thompson condos but it wasn’t the right fit for me. Then I moved to Summerhill—also not the right fit. Now I am an Annex girl. It was sort of like my ‘Goldielocks of Toronto’ and The Annex was ‘just right.” It reminds me of Brooklyn; on one side, my neighbours are old school, and speak Greek and grow all their vegetables in their backyard, and then I have this yuppie couple with kids on the other side. It’s the most refreshing mix of families and couples. The area is just a beautiful medley of what Toronto is really about. I can walk around, walk my dogs and still have some privacy—which is really nice too.