WORKING as a Meghan Markle lookalike was something that Sarah Mhlanga just fell into, but at the height of her career she was overloaded with bookings.
However, when the real Meghan decided to quit royal life Sarah knew she’d be out of a job.
Here, the 37-year-old – who lives in Manchester with husband Jabzz, 39, and children their Josiah, 10, and Mimi-Rae, seven – talks about life as a Meg-alike.
“As I watched the TV news report about Prince Harry and Meghan leaving the UK, my heart sank. I couldn’t believe they were moving to Canada and quitting public life as working royals.
While I was pleased they were following their own path in life, I also felt panicked as I worried the move would affect my livelihood as a Meghan Markle impersonator.
My experience as a Meg-alike began in September 2017. I was in Ikea with my family when a lady remarked I looked just like Meghan Markle.
I smiled politely, but I had never heard of her. I Googled at home later, and although I saw the resemblance, I didn’t think much more of it until Harry and Meghan announced their engagement two months later.
Several friends shared photos of me on Facebook, tagging me and saying how much I looked like Meghan, and then I received hundreds of messages on Facebook from people from all over the world telling me I looked like her.
While I’m not mixed race like Meghan, I do have Spanish ancestry. Jabzz is African and our children, Josiah and Mimi-Rae, are mixed race and I was excited that the UK might see its first mixed-race princess.
I was already working as an actress on Hollyoaks and The Only Way Is Essex, so when my agent advised me to work as a lookalike, I decided to give it a go.
I had a portfolio of shots taken and began to dress like Meghan. Jabzz was supportive and my parents thought it would be a great way of raising my profile.
In the run-up to the royal wedding in May 2018, I was asked to take part in promotional campaigns and shoots.
I went on Loose Women and This Morning, appeared at the races in Aintree and did walkabouts outside Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle for German and American TV, earning up to £400 each time.
I began working alongside several Prince Harry lookalikes, and we’d get mobbed when we did TV walkabouts.
It reached fever pitch as the wedding drew closer, and it could get scary sometimes as people bombarded us with requests for autographs and selfies – though I always signed my name, not Meghan’s.
I became good friends with one Prince Harry impersonator, Henry Morley and our families even went on holiday together to Wales in October 2018.
We confused a lot of people – especially when we went for a country walk and were asked for our autographs by passers-by.
Mimi-Rae and Josiah would often point out magazine covers with Meghan’s face on and ask if it was me – they genuinely couldn’t tell the difference, and while most friends were supportive, a few have been unkind, asking if doing this really makes me happy.
Being Meghan’s lookalike takes a lot of maintenance. I’ve always done yoga, like her, and I watch what I eat to make sure I stay a size 8.
Every six months, I’ve had new hair extensions to make my hair look as thick as Meghan’s. I get my Meghan outfits from Dorothy Perkins and was lucky enough to have been gifted a gorgeous replica of her wedding ring.
When Prince Harry and Meghan announced they were leaving the UK in January, my bookings dried up. My earnings had varied from month to month, but we really felt the pinch.
We were no longer able to book our big family holiday, and we had to cut back on buying clothes. We were dealt a double blow when coronavirus hit, and my one remaining booking in April was cancelled.
While I fully understood the couple’s decision to quit Britain, it was a shame, as being Meghan had been so much fun.
I’m not sure what the future holds, although I have had some enquiries come in for appearances this September if the virus eases up.
Now the couple have relocated from Canada to Los Angeles, I’m hopeful things will pick up again – Americans adore the royals and I can imagine a Meg-alike would go down very well there.
It’s my dream for us all to move to LA. The best thing of all would be for Meghan to announce she’s expecting another child soon. Nothing beats a wedding or a new baby when you’re a lookalike!”
- Follow Sarah on Instagram @Sarahmhlangaofficial