It’s barely four weeks since Meghan Markle has been thrust into the spotlight. Well, that’s not strictly true as she’s actually been in the public eye for quite some time thanks to her lead role in the TV drama ‘Suits’. But for the past month or so, her profile has risen astronomically thanks to her now confirmed status as Prince Harry’s girlfriend of six months.
But not content to sit on her laurels, the American actress has decided to use her new-found platform to pen an important essay about gender equality and trying to find a balance between fame and philanthropy.
Writing in Elle UK, the 35-year-old recalls a time last year when she was in Rwanda as an advocate for UN Women. She was heading back from a Gihembe refugee camp, having spent the week meeting with female parliamentarians celebrating the fact that 64% of the Rwandan Government are women, when she received an email asking if she would like to attend a ritzy BAFTA Awards do in London, where she would be dressed in “the fanciest of gowns” and wearing expensive jewellery.
“My brain, heart and spirit couldn’t shift gears that quickly, from the purpose-driven work I had been doing all week in Rwanda to the polished glamour of an awards show,” she wrote. “’No,’ my heart said. And it wasn’t a soft whisper; it was a lion’s roar.”
“In that moment, my gut said no because while my two worlds can coexist, I’ve learned that being able to keep a foot in both is a delicate balance. No, they are not mutually exclusive but guiding my heart through the swinging pendulum from Hollywood fantasy to third-world reality is challenging in its own way,” she continued.
Meghan attributes her do-good mindset to the upbringing her clinical therapist and dad who was the “most hard-working father” she knew who raised the Hollywood star to be a “global citizen” with eyes open to sometimes harsh realities.
“My parents came from little so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it,” she wrote.
“It’s what I grew up seeing, so it’s what I grew up being: a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could and speak up when I knew something was wrong.”
The actress also discussed how she’s always striven to fight for gender equality. Recalling an incident at school when an advert on the TV referred to women all over America fighting greasy pots and pans, she explained her horror that the boys in her class laughed and joked that was where women belonged.
“I went home and wrote letters to feminist civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred, plus a kids’ news programme host, and Hillary Clinton (our first lady at the time),” she wrote. “They all pledged support. A few months later, the commercial was changed to ‘People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.’”
Though the actress didn’t mention her boyfriend Prince Harry in the essay, she hinted that she may use her increased status to empower young women and raise awareness about subjects close to her heart.
“With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire.”
Read the full essay on Elle UK
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