Meghan Markle and Issa Rae Discuss the Balance Between Being Perceived As Clear vs. Difficult As Black Women

The Duchess of Sussex discussed her ‘Duchess Difficult’ label with the actress.
Meghan Markle.

Meghan Markle.

Meghan Markle and Issa Rae unpacked the “angry Black woman” stereotype on the Duchess of Sussex’s most recent podcast episode of Archetypes.

The actress revealed that she never felt like she was “allowed” to be angry because of the implications it could have on her career.

“I can’t lose my cool. I can’t do that, especially as a Black woman, but also just even as a public figure now,” she told Markle. “Because people are looking for ways to justify their perception of you. That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. That might mean that I will vent my frustrations to someone that I trust, get it out of my system and then go [into] fix mode. And I think even personality wise, I’m always like, I don’t want to sit in my anger too long anyway because what does that do?

Markle has experienced racism while she pursued acting and as a member of the royal family.

“I remember when I was auditioning, and even the idea of Black roles—I remember those casting sheets where the description of the character, she always had to have an edge or an attitude,” the former Suits star said.

Markle mentioned a book she read called Algorithms of Oppression in which the author, Safiya Noble, recalls typing “why are Black women so …” into a search engine and being met with results that perpetuated stereotypes, such as “Why are Black women so loud?”; “Why are Black women so mean?”; and “Why are Black women so angry?”

“Those were the seeds being planted,” Markle added. “We all know that sometimes things make you feel angry or sad or hurt or upset—and that’s not a gender- or racially-specific feeling. Yet, this trope of the angry Black woman, it persists and as we saw in this book, it was being reinforced, constantly in ways we hadn’t even realized.”

Talk show host and comedian Ziwe also was invited to join the episode. Markle, like Ziwe, is part Nigerian. She describes the comedian’s interview style as “intense” and “polarizing”—a method that aims to make people uncomfortable.

“Usually when I’m talking to an interviewer, the first thing they say to me is ‘I’m terrified of you,’” Ziwe said, admitting that it hurts her feelings.

Ziwe recalls a moment that stuck with her—a friend called her “very particular.” Markle reassured her that it’s O.K. to be particular, and they agreed it should be taken as a compliment.

“I’m particular,” said the 41-year-old Markle, who has been labeled “Duchess Difficult” by critics in the U.K. “I think a high tide raises all ships. We’re all going to succeed, so let’s make sure it’s really great because it’s a shared success for everybody.

“But I also know that I will find myself cowering and tiptoeing into a room—I don’t know if you ever do that. The thing that I find the most embarrassing—when you’re saying a sentence and the intonation goes up like it’s a question. And you’re like, ‘Oh my God, stop!’ Stop whispering and tiptoeing around and say what it is you need. You’re allowed to set a boundary. You’re allowed to be clear. It does not make you demanding. It does not make you difficult. It makes you clear.”

Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.