Although she’s never met Meghan Markle, Parisa Fitz-Henley feels like she knows the bride-to-be like the back of her hand. To play the American-born beauty in the TV movie Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, the Jamaican-American actress did a lot of research and studied every interview she could find. She also changed her voice to sound more like Meghan.
It was their respectives pasts, though, that helped Parisa connect with the former actress on a more personal level. “We have a lot of similar life experiences, so there was a lot that I could relate to,” said the star, who is best known for her role as Reva Connors in Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage .
Here, Parisa, 41, chats with Hello! about the moment she first wanted to play Prince Harry’s sweetheart and what she loves most about Meghan and Harry’s love story.
First things first – how did you prepare for the role of Meghan? I just watched everything that I could find online! Just watching her movements, reading things she’d written about herself and her thoughts. A lot of googling!
Had you ever been told you looked like Meghan? Never. Not once! And it doesn’t happen now either. [ Laughs] When my hair is straight and long, I see it, and in photos people see it. I’ve even seen that in the press there’s been a picture that’s supposedly her, but it’s is actually me.
What else do you have in common with Meghan? I think I’m a much sillier person than she seems to be. [ Laughs] But she’s described herself as ambitious, and I would describe myself as ambitious as well. But we have a lot of similar life experiences, so there was a lot that I could relate to in preparing for the character.
Did you have any interest in the Royal Family? The Royal Family were kind of a peripheral presence – I knew about them, but I didn’t know details. I do remember exactly where I was when Diana died though, like so many people do. But it was really the engagement interview that the BBC did with Harry and Meghan that piqued my interest. I felt really drawn to her as a character and thought, “She’d be an interesting character to play!” I let my manager know that if there was ever a movie, I would just like to audition.
What’s your favourite part about their love story? How well aligned they seem to be around being of service to people. It’s nice to see people who are like, “We can … you know, roast a chicken together and do those things, and then go and do some amazing things out in the world together because we really enjoy making an impact.” I love that about them.
Does the film deal with some of the challenges they faced as a couple in the public eye? Absolutely. And to me, what’s romantic is when you see people who are able to be there for each other and understand each other through difficulties – in addition to all the sweet things that we associate with romance in a general sense.
And have you ever met Meghan? No, not that I know of [Laughs].