Less than a week after Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle’s bombshell announcement that they will “step back” as senior royals, the couple’s future remains something of a question mark. But they’ll need to do something with all the time they’re not devoting to royally mandated meet-and-greets. They also might want to earn some money, having declared their intention to become financially independent. Could Meghan actually pick up her acting career again?
Meghan was never a household name as an actress, but she starred in two Hallmark movies and had a lead role on a basic cable drama—plum gigs for a working actress. She quit Suits in 2018 after its seventh season—her character got married in the season finale—and hasn’t acted since her wedding that year.
Over the weekend, however, reports emerged that Meghan has now signed a deal with Disney to do a voice-over for an unknown future project. Her payment will go to a nonprofit that combats elephant poaching, according to the Times, a British newspaper. (TMZ dug up a video of Harry touting Meghan’s voice-over skills to Disney CEO Bob Iger at the London premiere of The Lion King last summer.) Meanwhile, some royal watchers have speculated that the couple might move back to Los Angeles, where Meghan was raised. It’s all coming together … or is it?
I spoke with three Los Angeles–based casting professionals about what Meghan’s career might look like if she decided to dive back in. All three asked to remain anonymous in order to speculate freely.
On Meghan’s pre-royalty reputation as an actress:
“This is harsh, but I never really thought of her as an actress before. I love her as a person, what she stands for. But did I really think of her [as an actress] before this whole thing? No. Her best bet would be to come back to Hollywood and make it as a personality rather than getting back to scripted roles. I personally didn’t think she had the chops.”
“She had a very legitimate career. She was a consistent TV actress. On Suits, she played a love interest with a strong moral backbone, so she would have been considered for roles along those lines.”
“I did know about her, but mostly because of her husband—well, now her ex-husband—who was a talent manager. I knew him and I remember when they got engaged and married. But she wasn’t someone I would put on lots of lists.”
On Meghan’s current career prospects:
“I [can] see her getting offers to do a lot of random guest-star roles as stunt casting. I don’t know if she would have time [to take a regular role in a series]. A regular production season, for a show with 12 to 22 episodes a season, can be six months. With streaming and HBO, seasons are getting shorter because talent don’t want to be tied down. So real A-listers can write [a limit of] six episodes into their contract. Meghan could demand that with her status and get that, if she were to go back to a series-regular role.”
“I could see her doing something scripted eventually, but not anything substantial. It’s like how you see big names do animated movies when their kids are young, because it’s something fun to give their kids. I could see her doing something like that in a few years.”
“Now that she’s shot to fame, I would imagine she would only be interested in a lead role on her own show. I don’t know if a place like HBO would do something with her. I feel like not. It would be basic cable or Netflix, or a place trying not go after the cream of the crop in terms of actors. I think she’s talented, but I’m not sure she’s going to win an Emmy or an Oscar. Or she may rather do something like The Handmaid’s Tale, like Alexis Bledel did in the first season, a role that was supposed to be just a few episodes, but everyone loved her. That’s something that’s more limited in scope and time commitment.”
What about a reality show?
“I have no doubt that Bravo or E! or a lifestyle network from [the NBC] family would try to reach out to have her do a life-of-Meghan-Markle thing. Do I think it’s realistic that she would do it? No. But I think people would be so interested. I could even see a Meghan-tries-to-go-back-to-acting reality special.”
“I think that’s completely up to her and her inevitable production company.”
Is there anything she definitely couldn’t do?
“It would be hard for her to do an indie film, especially if it’s like a character who has substance-abuse problems or is a bad mother. There was a movie I just watched called American Woman, with Sienna Miller, and she plays an unlikable person—dating a married man in the beginning, struggles with substance abuse. I can’t imagine [Meghan] doing a role like that, whether she wants to or not—those edgy, dark roles.”
“We had actually considered her for a voice-over role in a Disney film a year and a half ago. I would imagine that Disney or Lifetime or Hallmark might be the only real venues she can explore, because I’m sure there’s a level of material she can’t do. She had hot sex scenes in Suits, and that’s not something she would want to do [now], let alone be allowed to do.”
If you could cast her as anything, what would it be?
“My dream casting for her would be to do the voice for a new animated Disney princess. That would be huge.”
“There’s so much baggage to her now that it would truly have to be a perfect role, or a role in which you need someone to bring the notoriety.”
“I think she would be good in a show like All Rise, on CBS, about a woman who becomes a judge in her 30s. I know they wanted to go for a woman a color, it didn’t matter what ethnicity, but they wanted to go non-Caucasian. She gets to play dignified and intelligent, and it wouldn’t hurt her brand.”
How much would she earn?
“I doubt she earned much before. I would be surprised if she earned six figures per episode [on Suits]. But if she came back as the star of a basic cable show, they pay the big names $125,000 [per episode] or maybe up to $150,000. So I would think anyone who repped her would ask for that.”
“A voice-over role, if it was the lead, it would be $100,000 to $300,000, give or take whatever the back end would be. That’s the lead. But it sounds like she’ll be donating [the fee for her Disney voice-over]. When people know the value of the work is arbitrary other than to make the person feel valued, they pay less.”
“Top-tier actors, if they’re doing a stunt casting role for a comedy or drama series, they get what we call a ‘marquee rate,’ that’s $25,000 an episode. She would definitely get that. If she were to do a series-regular role, I’d say she could get anywhere from $100,000 to $125,000 per episode, maybe up to $150,000. Animation pays way less than live action. But if she were to do a Disney princess role, she’d be making bank.”