by Elise Taylor
Last year, thanks to her relationship with Prince Harry, Meghan Markle became the most-Googled actress of 2016. But, as her friend Priyanka Chopra is keen to remind us, Meghan Markle is, and will always be, so much more than a royal plus-one.
Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the actress, activist, and lifestyle blogger.
- She was a double major in college
Markle attended Northwestern University, where she majored in theater and international relations. During her senior year, she even worked at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina.
Her college experience also gave her perspective on her identity as a biracial woman navigating Hollywood, an industry known for white-washing, or stereotyping mixed-race actors and actors of color.
“I took an African-American studies class at Northwestern where we explored colorism; it was the first time I could put a name to feeling too light in the black community, too mixed in the white community,” she said in Allure’s April issue. “For castings, I was labeled ‘ethnically ambiguous.’ Was I Latina? Sephardic? ‘Exotic Caucasian’?”
- She’s an avid humanitarian and feminist
Markle’s an ambassador for the charity World Vision, has served as a counselor for One Young World, and is an advocate for UN Women. In August 2015, she starred in a PSA for the latter, where she spoke passionately about its mission: “when women lead, the world changes.”
But perhaps it’s her speech at the UN Women’s conference, in front of a crowd that included former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, that best showcases her mission to change the world:
“It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision. May we empower each other to carry out such vision because it isn’t enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it.”
- She changed a sexist soap commercial
When she was 11 years old, Markle saw a soap commercial with the tagline “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” She may not have thought anything of it until two boys in her class said that women belong in the kitchen. So Markle took a stand. She wrote to then–First Lady Hillary Clinton, Linda Ellerbee, Gloria Allred, and the soap manufacturer lobbying them to change the line. It worked. The commercial switched from “women all over America” to “people all over America.”
- She has two adorable rescue dogs
Meghan Markle’s definitely a dog person. Her two rescues, Guy and Bogart, are the stars of her now-dormant Instagram: Markle would often post pictures of them lounging around her Toronto home with the hashtag #adoptdontshop, and even snapped beagle Guy posing in a Union Jack sweater.
- She is (or, was) a lifestyle blogger
Meghan Markle used to have quite the side hustle: The Tig, a “lifestyle brand dedicated to the love of travel, food, fashion, and beauty.” Although the site shut down in April of 2017, curious readers can still go down the rabbit hole of The Tig’s Instagram, which features inspirational quotes, scenic travel shots, and lots of colorful donuts.
The good news about her spending more time in the public eye? We will learn even more. Coming soon to Vogue: “10, 15, 20, 25 (okay, that’s a little ambitious) Things You Didn’t Know About Meghan Markle.”