Meghan Markle went down a very different career path before she became the Duchess of Sussex. Interestingly, she held the position of “suitcase girl” on the popular game show Deal or No Deal during her younger years. And one of Meghan’s former co-stars shed some light on that period in 2020.
The American iteration of Deal or No Deal made its debut in 2005, and Meghan was recruited for the program’s second season the following year. At that point, the future royal was in her mid-20s and had already gained experience on the small screen as an actress. But those skills weren’t really required for the game show.
As we highlighted earlier, Meghan was one of the suitcase girls on the program. But how did the show work? Well, the competing contestants had 26 numbered boxes to choose from, and each one of them contained different amounts of money. The largest sum on offer was $1 million, so the stakes were always extremely high.
Once the competitors had selected their respective suitcases, the girls overseeing those boxes would go on to open them up. From there, they’d unveil the hidden sum to the cameras. Meghan was assigned three different numbered briefcases during her stint on Deal or No Deal, but the future duchess’ job ultimately remained the same.
The format proved to be hugely successful in the United States, and Deal or No Deal earned nominations at both the Daytime Emmys and Primetime Emmys. It also picked up a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Game Show in 2008 as well. But in the end, the program concluded a year later – before enjoying a brief revival in 2018.
For her part, Meghan was only on the show for a short period and left the role in 2007. She also didn’t feature too prominently – appearing in only 34 episodes over the course of more than 200. Not long after that, the aspiring actress appeared in programs like ’Til Death and 90210.
But in the summer of 2020 Meghan’s stint on Deal or No Deal came into focus again thanks to a woman named Lisa Gleave. Much like the Duchess of Sussex, she also worked on the show. And as we suggested previously, the fellow suitcase girl shared some details about her famous co-star’s attitude at that time.
Lisa was born in the Australian Gold Coast in November 1976, and she made her acting debut just three years later in the movie Take Down. But the actress then had to wait until 2002 for her next on-screen credit. This time, she appeared in The Price is Right gameshow.
Lisa was named as one of the models on The Price Is Right that year and featured in 40 episodes. She also had the same role on The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular in 2003. And once she left those shows behind, an opportunity opened up on a program called Bikini Destinations.
Lisa also returned to the world of acting after appearing in an episode of Reno 911! in 2005. From there, she worked on several film and television projects over the next few years. Yet it could be argued that her most famous role was on Deal or No Deal.
Lisa was one of the original suitcase girls when the show started back in 2005. She became a regular fixture during its first run on the small screen – holding box number three. And the model had featured in just under 190 episodes by the time Deal or No Deal ended four years later.
Evidently, Lisa would’ve crossed paths with Meghan when she joined the program in 2006. But the future Duchess of Sussex wasn’t the only notable name on Deal or No Deal during that period. The multi-talented model Chrissy Teigen made her television debut on the show, too.
Chrissy was given the role of “banker’s model,” though she left Deal or No Deal in 2008 to pursue other opportunities. Since then, Chrissy has tried her hand at acting and producing. Meanwhile, her personal life took an exciting turn five years later after she tied the knot with music star John Legend.
Chrissy looked back on the show during an interview in February 2018 – around a decade on from her first TV role. The actress was a guest on Watch What Happens Live when the subject came up. Yet the host Andy Cohen had a very specific question regarding her royal co-star.
Cohen told Chrissy, “I saw online that you and Meghan Markle were Deal or No Deal models around the same time. Did you ever work with her? And did you ever guess that she would be marrying into royalty?” In response, she then reflected on their differing roles on the program.
Chrissy replied, “I think [Meghan] came in the second season or so. I did from the pilot season to first, but then I got demoted because I couldn’t walk down the stairs. Like I literally was fired, well not fired, but I couldn’t be a ‘briefcase girl’ so they made me a ‘banker girl.’”
“It was a very blurry time,” Chrissy continued. “But I keep telling John, ‘That could’ve been me!’ Everyone wants a good story [about Meghan], and I’m like, I just remember [she was] very quiet and sweet. I got nothing. [She was] really kind, and I don’t say that about anybody.”
A few months after that interview, Chrissy spoke about Meghan again when she sat down with the Daily Mail newspaper in November 2018. The model began to share her thoughts on the British royal family before focusing on her former co-star and reiterating those previous comments.
Chrissy informed the paper, “I am especially a fan of Meghan. I was on Deal or No Deal with her and she was lovely. Now everyone asks me what she was like and I say, ‘Sorry, no dirt. She’s gorgeous.’ I love the freshness she brings, and her cookbook Together is my only pre-order of the year.”
“It’s beautifully done and you can tell how important [the book] is to [Meghan],” Chrissy added to the publication. “You see how she interacts with people and gets down to eye level with kids.” Elsewhere, another one of Meghan’s old colleagues shared their view as well in the summer of 2018.
Howie Mandel was the face of Deal or No Deal throughout its run on television. He helmed it up until the show’s initial conclusion in 2009 – ahead of coming back for the revival nine years later. Meghan became the Duchess of Sussex during that gap, and Howie humorously suggested that he wasn’t surprised.
Howie told reporters during the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour in August 2018, “[Meghan] was slightly duchessy.” But the host had some kind words to share, too. Indeed, he believed that the other suitcase models on the show had the potential to follow in Meghan’s footsteps.
Howie noted, “[Meghan’s position] speaks to who we have now and who we had then. Not everybody will have the opportunity to meet royalty, but these are all accomplished people [who] have something substantial. They’re not just standing there holding a case. They have careers, they have hobbies [and] they have families.”
“[The suitcase models are] entrepreneurial – they’re all people,” Howie concluded. “So, when somebody like [Prince] Harry meets somebody who just happened to be on our show, there’s a lot to offer.” Meanwhile, the executive producer of Deal or No Deal was also asked about Meghan during that same media talk.
Much like Chrissy and Howie, Scott St. John reflected on his experiences with Meghan when she was on the program. He reiterated the former’s views of the Duchess of Sussex, though the producer also admitted that he couldn’t have predicted her royal rise.
Scott informed the media, “[Meghan] was not involved in many episodes, but I did remember her. She was a very nice person. I can’t say that I saw anything – I actually think all the women on our show are special. [But] she actually developed a relationship with someone in the royal family.”
“And there were qualities that [Harry] saw in [Meghan] and she saw in him,” Scott added. “That’s all that mattered – it doesn’t matter what we saw.” However, while his nice words lined up with Howie and Chrissy, someone else offered a slightly more detailed view of the actress’ time on the program.
During the summer of 2020 Lisa Gleave sat down to talk with Australia’s Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper. And over the course of their chat, the model felt the need to touch upon Meghan’s demeanor and attitude on the set of Deal or No Deal.
To begin with, Lisa seemed to echo some of the previous comments regarding Meghan. She told the publication, “[The duchess was] quiet but very sweet. I remember her being very focused on her acting career, and her role as a briefcase beauty – as we were called – was just a stepping stone in her career.”
Lisa went on to add, “[Meghan] only did a few seasons and then landed her role in Suits which took her away. I was so happy for her when I heard about the marriage.” Even though the aforementioned show didn’t start until 2011, Meghan’s career after Deal or No Deal was definitely in a better place.
As we highlighted earlier, Meghan scored a couple of roles after leaving the program and appeared in two different TV movies in 2008. She then featured in four more projects the following year – starting with an appearance in an episode of Knight Rider.
Meghan subsequently popped up in shows like Fringe and Without a Trace. She then earned a part in the romantic drama Remember Me, which hit the big screen in 2010. To wit, the actress starred alongside Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan and Emilie de Ravin in that movie.
Meghan followed these appearances up with some other film and television work, before she scored the role of Rachel Zane on Suits. And it turned out to be a defining job in the end, as Meghan featured in more than 100 episodes of the show. But her run eventually concluded in 2018 when she became the Duchess of Sussex.
Interestingly, Meghan opened up about her work as a performer to Esquire magazine prior to joining the British royal family. The interview took place in July 2013 – coinciding with the start of Suits’ third season. And during their talk, the future duchess made an interesting point regarding her character’s drive to succeed.
Meghan told the publication, “I think each of our personalities have really become peppered into our characters. I’m a foodie in real life, so the creator made Rachel a foodie. There are certain elements about my sense of humor that have started to become much more of Rachel’s character. We pride ourselves on being well-educated. And we don’t want to sell ourselves short.”
Meghan also outlined her relief when looking at the success of Suits at that time. She continued, “We’ve been really lucky that not only have we had a strong following from the beginning, but USA is the number-one [cable] network, and we’re one of their number-one shows.”
“I feel so fortunate, because as an actor you spend so much time just trying to get a job,” Meghan noted. With that in mind, she then turned her focus to Deal or No Deal. And the actress more or less backed up Lisa Gleave’s view some seven years prior to her interview in 2020.
Meghan made sure to express a begrudging appreciation for the suitcase model role as well. She said that the job quickly opened her eyes about the direction of her career, and it strengthened the duchess’ passionate resolve to make it in the world of acting.
Meghan said, “I would put that in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet. I went from working in the U.S. Embassy in Argentina to ending up on Deal. Definitely, working on Deal or No Deal was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing.”
To conclude, Esquire pondered if Meghan carried the $1 million box on the show. She responded, “I didn’t ever have it. I was the ill-fated number 26, which for some reason no one would ever choose. I’d end up standing there forever just waiting for someone to pick my number so I could sit down.” Of course, the duchess has no such problems now.