Being biracial is not easy, Prince Harry's girlfriend Meghan Markle admits in Elle essay

Meghan Markle poses for pictures on the red carpet of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premier in London in 2013.
Meghan Markle poses for pictures on the red carpet of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premier in London in 2013.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - The girlfriend of Britain's Prince Harry, American actress Meghan Markle, has written an essay for the British edition of Elle magazine in which she reveals that it is not easy being biracial.

"Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating," she said in the piece published on Dec 11. She goes on to note that it was even tough getting accepted in what seems like the most liberal of places, Hollywood.

"Being 'ethnically ambiguous', as I was pegged in the industry, meant I could audition for virtually any role. 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 Eighties Benetton poster," wrote Markle, 35, whose mother is African-American and father is Caucasion.

"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."

While she grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood, she said her parents made her feel "special" rather than different. Thus she said she never identified with one race or the other.

 
 

"To describe something as being black and white means it is clearly defined," she explained. "Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear. In fact, it creates a grey area."

Despite that, Markle was drawn to acting.

"There couldn't possibly be a more label-driven industry than acting, seeing as every audition comes with a character breakdown: 'Beautiful, sassy, Latina, 20s'; 'African American, urban, pretty, early 30s'; 'Caucasian, blonde, modern girl next door'," she writes. "Every role has a label; every casting is for something specific. But perhaps it is through this craft that I found my voice."

She also found acceptance in La La Land, landing a role on the USA Network TV series Suits, something she calls "a dream come true".

"The show's producers weren't looking for someone mixed, nor someone white or black for that matter," she writes. "They were simply looking for Rachel. In making a choice like that, the Suits producers helped shift the way pop culture defines beauty."

Markle was married to film producer Trevor Engelson for two years, a marriage than ended in 2013. She began dating Prince Harry, 32, in June, a relationship the couple acknowledged on Nov 8, when the British royal hit out at critics of his choice of girlfriend.

Prince Harry's communications secretary, Mr Jason Knauf, released a one-page letter saying a line had been crossed.

In the letter, he said that Markle had been subject to "a wave of abuse and harassment" that included a smear on the front page of a national newspaper, racial undertones in comment pieces, "and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments".

Fearing for her safety, the letter continued: "(Prince Harry) knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game.' He strongly disagrees. This is not a game - it is her life and his."

In her essay, Markle herself admitted: "While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence" but said she has "come to embrace that".

"To say who I am, to share where I'm from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman."