It's no secret that being an actor in Hollywood is rife with challenges. From enduring countless rejections to being told you aren't this or that enough for a role, you need more than a thick skin to survive — especially if you're a woman of color. But a certain Suits star has a great quote that keeps her going. Advice Meghan Markle received from her father as a child reaffirms her self-esteem.
The biracial actor told Allure magazine that prior to getting her big break on TV she was being labeled as "ethnically ambiguous" by casting directors who disregarded her mixed race background. The disassociation only got worse as Markle gained more success after she noticed photographers regularly altering her skin tone to appear lighter and airbrushing her freckles from photographs. However, the 35-year-old said she harkens back to a little quote from her father to keep her spirits up: "A face without freckles is a night without stars."
Sure, airbrushing freckles may seem superficial in the grand scheme of diversity and inclusion issues in Hollywood. But virtually erasing Markle's features sends a potentially harmful message to women of color who should be accepted as is. It says your features are too much. You aren't relatable. You aren't normal. In actuality, freckles, moles, darker skin, full lips, or curly hair don't make women of color worth any less than women with straight hair, thin lips, and no beauty marks. These features should be celebrated, incorporated into every narrative as the norm, and remain untouched.
Yet it took Markle quite some time and several awkward encounters dealing with colorism in casting calls before her father's words truly stuck.
The Northwestern University graduate told Allure she first learned about colorism while taking an African-American studies class. Prior to that, Markle, whose mother is black and father is white, said she often felt ostracized by both races. "It was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community. For castings, I was labeled 'ethnically ambiguous' Was I Latina? Sephardic? 'Exotic Caucasian?'"
The actor explained to Allure that with her father's advice in mind she refuses to allow colorism to compromise her identity. By embracing the freckles and complexion she was born with, Markle is making a bold statement: having these features does not make her "exotic" or more or less black or white. She won't settle for being seen as anything other than who she is, and neither should anyone else.