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Lifetime's Royal Romance premieres tonight

Jamaican actress plays Meghan Markle

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The wedding of Britain's Prince Harry to American Meghan Markle is set for this Saturday, May 19. But come tonight, viewers can watch the premiere of the highly anticipated made-for-television movie Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance on the US network Lifetime .

The film, which will air at 8:00 pm, stars Jamaican-born actress Parisa Fitz-Henley in the role of Markle and will explore the development of the couple's relationship; from the moment they met after being set up by friends on a blind date in 2016 through their initial courtship when they were able to keep their romance under wraps, and ultimately the intense global media attention surrounding their relationship and Meghan's life as a divorced American actress, culminating with their engagement on November 27 of last year.

Fitz-Henley, 41, whose previous credits include Netflix's Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, as well as appearances on Grey's Anatomy and House of Cards — nabbed this coveted role just as the project was announced earlier this year by the American network.

She admitted that she was not much of a royal watcher, but became interested in the couple after watching footage of their engagement.

“I was so taken with Meghan, that was my first real, solid experience with seeing her, and I just thought what an interesting character she would be, I'm sure they will make a movie someday and I said to my manager, 'If they make one I'd love to just audition for this', and here we are.”

In preparing for the role, Fitz-Henley said she did a lot of research on the woman behind the character by watching available footage and interviews, as well as episodes of the popular series Suits in which Markle had a lead role. She also found that there were a number of similarities in their lives including the fact that both their parents are divorced. The two are also biracial — Fitz-Henley's father is Jamaican of African descent, while her mother is a white American.

“I watched and re-watched whatever I could find. Luckily she is also a fabulous writer who wrote her thoughts about things that were pertinent to our story, so there were things that I could take in. Then you trust yourself as an artist to pull things in. I love Meghan's confidence. She is such a wonderful example for women...it's inspiring,” she said in a media interview.

Fitz-Henley was born in Kingston and attended St Andrew High School for Girls. She won the Miss Jamaica Fashion Model title in 1996 and moved to New York to pursue that career and has been acting professionally since 2002.

Murray Fraser plays Prince Harry opposite Fitz-Henley. Murray is a 24-year-old actor from Falkirk, Scotland, who has just two TV acting credits — ITV's The Loch and Victoria.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance is directed by Menhaj Huda from a script by Terrence Coli and Scarlett Lacey.