Meghan ‘quit’ Deal or No Deal for being valued for ‘beauty not brains’

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Meghan Markle opened up on her time as a “briefcase girl” on Deal or No Deal during this week’s episode of Archetypes. The Duchess of Sussex featured in a couple of seasons of the game show in the mid-Noughties, a few years before the former actress landed her role in the legal drama Suits. While the former actress said the role was “fascinating”, she admitted to feeling as if she had been valued for the wrong reasons.

In the opening monologue of the latest podcast episode, Meghan said: “Back in 2006, I had a short stint as a briefcase girl on the US version of the game show [Deal or No Deal]. Now my experience on the show, which included holding said briefcase on stage alongside 25 other women doing the same. It was for me, fascinating.”

She went on to say she was “grateful” for her role — one that “paid her bills” while she pursued an acting career — but admitted to thinking back to her time as an intern at the US Embassy in Argentina, where she was “being valued specifically for my brain”. 

At Deal or No Deal, Meghan felt as if she was “being valued for something quite the opposite”. She recalled: “Before the taping of the show, all the girls would line up and there were different stations for having your lashes put on, or your extensions put in, or the padding in your bra. 

“We were even given spray tan vouchers each week because there was a very cookie-cutter idea of precisely what we should look like. It was solely about beauty and not necessarily about brains.”

The Duchess recalled the moment before they would get on a stage when the producer of the show, who couldn’t pronounce her last name, would shout: “‘Mar-kel, suck it in!’ Mar-kel suck it in!’”

Meghan revealed: “I ended up quitting the show. Like I said I was thankful for the job, but not for how it made me feel, which was not smart. 

“I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me but that wasn’t the focus of why we were there. And I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach knowing that I was so much more than what was being objectified on this stage. 

“I didn’t like feeling forced to be all looks and little substance. And that’s how it felt for me at the time being reduced to this specific archetype…The Bimbo.” 

It wasn’t until 2011 that Meghan got her ‘big break’ when she earned her role as Rachel Zane in Suits. From 2011 to 2018, Meghan was a recurring character in the hit TV show. 

Suits ran for nine seasons, but the Duchess left the legal drama at the end of season seven. It was at this time that her engagement to Prince Harry was announced. 

Meghan, who studied acting at Northwestern University and fell in love with the industry while accompanying her father on the set of General Hospital, decided to step away from acting when she got engaged to the English prince. 

During the couple’s first joint interview, which aired on the BBC in November 2017, Meghan explained why she made the decision to step away from acting. She said: “What’s been really exciting, as we talk about this as the transition out of my career… is that the causes that have been very important to me, I can focus even more energy on.

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“You realise that as you have access, or a voice that people are willing to listen to, [it comes with] a lot of responsibility, which I take seriously.”

Asked about the decision to give up her career, she responded: “I don’t see it as giving anything up. I just see it as a change. It’s a new chapter. And keep in mind I’ve been working on my show for seven years. We were very fortunate to have that sort of longevity on a series. 

“For me, once we hit the 100 episode marker, I thought, I have ticked this box and I feel really proud of the work we’ve done there and now it’s time to work as a team with [Harry].”

Since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepped down from their roles within the Royal Family, there has been speculation over what the couple might do next alongside their private ventures. And one theory was that Meghan would return to acting, particularly because she returned to Los Angeles and close to where her successful Hollywood career first began. 

However, the Duchess hinted that her Hollywood days are well and truly behind her, referring to her career as an actress as her “past life” in a previous episode of Archetypes. 

During a conversation with actress Constance Wu, Meghan talked about the challenges aspiring actresses face and remembering having “to have the thickest skin” to succeed in the industry. 

The Duchess is well-versed in the world of Hollywood, having upheld an acting career for over 15 years. Soon after the Duke and Duchess relinquished their royal duties, they signed a multi-million-pound deal with streaming giant Netflix.

Up until May, Meghan served as an executive producer on the family-friendly, animated series Pearl, but amid widespread cost-cutting moves, the programme was axed. The couple’s contract with the streaming service remains and it is understood that they have other projects in the works. 

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