Meghan Markle dropped a major hint that her new animated Netflix series will be based – at least in part – on her own childhood, by naming both the show and its title character Pearl, the origin meaning of her name.
The 39-year-old mother-of-two announced details of her new project for the streaming giant on Wednesday, revealing that she will both ‘create and produce’ the series, which focuses on a ’12-year-old heroine who finds inspiration in influential women from history’.
However it seems that Meghan is also shouldering another major role within the creation of the series – serving as the inspiration for its title character.
Few other details were released about the series – which is being co-produced by Elton John’s husband David Furnish – including which influential female figures will feature, however the choice of name for its young ‘heroine’ offers a fair amount of insight into the kind of character that will be portrayed on screen.
The name Meghan originated in Wales, where it is traditionally spelled Megan, and where it means ‘pearl’ – the moniker given to the leading lady of the Duchess of Sussex’s new animated series.
Inspiration: Meghan Markle offered a big hint that her new Netflix series will be based on her own life, naming the title character ‘Pearl’, which is the Welsh meaning of her name
Surprise! The 39-year-old will serve as creator and executive producer of the series, which is named after 12-year-old ‘heroine’ Pearl – the meaning of the name Meghan
This is not the first time that Meghan has chosen to draw on her own life as the inspiration for her professional projects – something that she did most recently with her debut children’s book The Bench, which was firmly panned by readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The tome was inspired by a poem that the Duchess wrote for Prince Harry on Father’s Day, and featured several illustrations that appear to depict herself, her husband, and their first-born child Archie.
As well as serving as the basis for the title character for her new Netflix project, Meghan will also serve as ‘creator and executive producer’ – marking the first time that the former actress and Suits star will work in the position of EP.
Filmmaker David, 58, will also serve as an executive producer on the series, called Pearl, which will ‘weave together fantasy and history’ while focusing ‘on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl’ as she attempts to ‘overcome life’s daily challenges’.
She continued: ‘I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix, and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series, which celebrates extraordinary women throughout history.’
Meghan did not name any of the women who will be spotlighted in the series – however she did add that both she and David are ‘eager to bring this special series to light’, concluding: ‘I am delighted we are able to announce it today.’
This is not the first time that Meghan has used her own life as the inspiration for a project. Her debut children’s book, The Bench, was based on a poem she wrote for Prince Harry
In the past, Meghan has heaped praise on many ‘inspirational’ women – and in 2019 she spotlighted 15 of them on the cover of British Vogue while serving as guest editor of a ‘Forces for Change’ issue, including LGBTQ+ activist Laverne Cox, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
It is not known whether any of these women will feature in the series – or if Meghan plans to include her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
Speaking about his involvement in Pearl, David hinted that he and Meghan have been working on the series for some time now, saying in a statement: ‘I am delighted that we are finally able to announce this exciting animated series.
‘Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and I are deeply passionate about bringing the inspirational and positive stories of extraordinary women from around the world to a global audience of all ages. The team collaborating on the series are first class, and Netflix are the perfect partner.’
As well as landing Meghan her first executive producer credit, the animated series also marks the first time that she and David will work together in a professional capacity.
David’s husband, famed musician Elton, 74, was good friends with Harry’s late mother Princess Diana and maintained a close relationship with the Duke after her death in 1997.
In 2019, Elton paid for Harry and Meghan to fly via private jet to his multi-million-dollar mansion in the South of France – and he vehemently defended the couple against furious backlash over their decision to travel in a private plane, despite actively advocating for environmental issues.
Elton and David were also among the many celebrity guests invited to attend Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018.
Meghan has teamed up with Elton John’s husband David Furnish, 58, on the production of the series, which is called Pearl
Elton was good friends with Harry’s late mother Princess Diana, and he and the Duke of Sussex have maintained a close relationship; he and David attended the Sussexes’ May 2018 wedding
The announcement comes just three months after Meghan and Harry revealed their first Netflix project – a documentary series about the Invictus Games
This is not the first time that Meghan and Harry have called on their famous friends to help them with one of their professional projects; Elton made a guest appearance in the first episode for the couple’s Spotify podcast, which was released at the end of 2020, in which he discussed the toll of the pandemic and his ‘hope for healing’ in the future.
The 35-minute episode – which was released as a holiday special – is the only content that Harry and Meghan have created as part of their deal with Spotify, which is said to be worth close to $40 million.
However the announcement of Meghan’s new animated show does make it seem as though the couple is starting to move the needle as far as their contract with Netflix is concerned.
Pearl will serve as the second project to be announced as part of Harry and Meghan’s very lucrative deal with Netflix – which is estimated to be worth a staggering $100 million – and comes just three months after their company, Archewell Productions announced a documentary series about the Invictus Games.
The program, Heart of Invictus, will follow competitors around the world training for the Games at The Hague which had been expected to take place in 2020 but were delayed until next year due to the pandemic.
It is unclear whether Harry and Meghan are actively working on any of these projects currently – after it was reported that the couple were planning to take up to five months of paternity leave following the birth of their second child, daughter Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana on June 4.
Are THESE the women who will feature in Meghan’s new Netflix show? Femail reveals the many ‘inspirational’ female figures she has praised in the past
The 15 women she spotlighted as ‘forces for change’ on the cover of British Vogue
In July 2019, Meghan guest edited an issue of the fashion publication, in which she profiled more than a dozen women from around the globe whom she hailed as ‘trailblazers’.
The list included Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, actress and activist Jane Fonda, model and mental health advocate Adwoa Aboah, actress and campaigner Gemma Chan, principal ballerina Francesca Hayward, body positivity activist and actress Jameela Jamil, actress Yara Shahidi, model and mental health advocate Christy Turlington, transgender actress and LGBTQ+ campaigner Laverne Cox, model and former refugee Adut Akech, boxer and former refugee Ramla Ali, lecturer Sinead Burke, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and actress and producer Salma Hayek.
‘Inspirational’ former First Lady Michelle Obama
Meghan interviewed Obama for British Vogue’s Q&A feature while guest-editing the magazine in 2019. When opening up about her choice, she explained that Obama embodies everything she was looking for in an interview subject.
‘Turns out British Vogue famously has a back page Q&A feature that is equal parts informative and whimsical, with a special guest each month,’ she wrote in the magazine. ‘My first thought was that it needed to be someone kind, inspirational, motivating, funny, with gravitas and as much depth as levity. My second thought: it needed to be Michelle Obama.’
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem
In 2020, Meghan sat down with Steinem to discuss women’s rights, representation, and the importance of voting for an interview featured on the women’s empowerment platform Makers Women.
‘I’ve looked up to you for so long!’ she told the feminist writer and activist. Meghan later thanked Steinem for her ‘wisdom and inspiration’.
In the Duchess of Sussex’s introduction to the interview, she opened up about her shared friendship with Steinem.
‘I firmly believe that we vote to honor those who came before us and to protect those who come after us. Ms. Steinem, my friend Gloria, is one of the women I honor when I vote,’ she wrote.
‘Legendary’ poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Meghan is a great admirer of Angelou. The Duchess of Sussex quoted the Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer during her speech in Nyanga, South Africa, on the opening day of her and Prince Harry’s South African tour in 2019.
‘I read a quote a few weeks ago and it resonated with me as I’ve been watching what’s been happening here and your active efforts,’ she said. ‘Maya Angelou, the legendary poet and civil rights activist, once said: “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women”.’
The charitable Princess Diana
In Meghan and Prince Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, she said that she spoke to one of Diana’s friends about the pressures of joining the royal family ‘because it’s like who else could understand what it’s actually like on the inside?’
A number of comparisons of Meghan and Diana have been made, and while she rarely speaks of her late mother-in-law, but she has paid tribute to her.
In 2019, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared one of Princess Diana’s famous quotes on their Instagram account: ‘Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.’