Meghan Markle‘s first ever uncredited acting role was in the US sitcom Married with Children.
Before the wife of Prince Harry became known globally thanks to her marriage to the second son of King Charles, she was an actor on cable show Suits.
But that was not her first role, in fact, she enjoyed a number of small parts on TV shows and films, as well as her famous role as a ‘suitcase model’ on gameshow Deal or No Deal.
When the now-Duchess of Sussex was growing up, her now-estranged father Thomas Markle worked on the iconic 1980s sitcom Married With Children, which starred actor Ed O’Neill.
During a 2019 interview with Ellen Degeneres, on her eponymous chat show, Ed spoke about the Markles’ connection to the show.
Meghan Markle (seen in the background) in her first role in US sitcom Married with Children. Her father Thomas Markle was a lighting director then director of photography on the show
He told Ellen: ‘By the way, she [Meghan] grew up on the set of Married With Children. Did you know that? Her father was a camera operator.’
Meghan made her acting debut in an uncredited role in the Season 9 episode titled The Undergraduate. It aired way back in 1995, and she played a student.
The episode saw Kelly (Christina Applegate) getting a secret admirer who merely wanted to take her to his Junior High School prom. Meanwhile, Bud (David Faustino) sneaks in as DJ to play slow songs to avenge his firing.
Even though Markle was on a singular episode with no credit and mainly in the background, as Ed O’Neill pointed out, she spent a significant amount time around the set thanks to her father’s role on the production.
Thomas Markle enjoyed a long relationship with the production. He worked on Married With Children for 10 of the hit show’s 11 seasons on the air.
First, he worked as a lighting director for the first season, then he moved up to director of photography from the second season to the 10th.
Speaking about Meghan’s presence on set, Ed O’Neil told Ellen: ‘She used to come on the set in a little Catholic school uniform. She was like nine.’
Meghan herself spoke about the experience of ‘growing up on the set of Married With Children’ during a February 2018 interview with Esquire magazine.
Meghan (pictured attending Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in 2020 with Prince Harry) was familiar with spending time on sets thanks to her lighting director father
‘My dad was a lighting director and director of photography for Married With Children. He just retired actually last year,’ she said.
‘Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married With Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up,’ she added.
‘There were a lot of times my dad would say, “Meg, why don’t you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes,”‘ the former actress added.
She added in the interview that she, naturally, wasn’t allowed to watch the show at home, but, ‘I could watch the end credits so I could give the screen a kiss when I saw my dad’s name go by.’
She also spoke about the women who were guest stars on the show, who she got to see every day.
‘You gotta think, there were guest stars like Tia Carrere and Traci Lords and Nikki Cox. Those were the kind of women coming in every day.
‘Just picture me with my curly hair and a gap in my teeth and my little school uniform with Keds on, looking up like, “Hi,” at these very, uh, provocative women. It was a big change from Immaculate Heart Catholic School,’ she said.
Since marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle has given up acting (pictured L-R: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Women of Vision Awards in New York in May)
Tom Bower, who wrote Meghan Markle biography Revenge, said in his book that going to ABC Studios in Los Angeles to watch her father working on the show was a Friday treat for her as a child.
In the book, he wrote: ‘Introduced into the world of television stars, she loved the glamour. More importantly, she loved the camera. Posing for fun in front of the lens, she became a different person.
‘Conscious of the focus of that glistening glass upon herself, she dreamt like many young girls in Tinseltown of her future as a Hollywood star.’
However, she would later go on to criticise the show, during a 2016 interview with the Toronto Star.
She said: ‘I saw how the women were objectified, and I knew I didn’t want to be looked at like that.’