View photos Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal airs tonight on Lifetime. More Almost a year to the day that Lifetime first aired Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance comes the follow-up, Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal . The sequel picks up where the first film left off—right before the royal wedding—but it does so without Markle lookalike Parisa Fitz-Henley in the title role. Newcomer Tiffany Smith assumes Markle‘s royal duties this time around.
“I had the most incredible time, and it was a life-changing experience,” Smith tells Glamour . It was so life-changing in fact, that Smith noticed she was adapting the Duchess of Sussex ‘s mannerisms even off camera. “I watched videos of myself from the Shazam! premiere and was like, ‘I’m still doing Meghan things.” In that moment she decided to chop off her long hair into a chin-length bob. “I’ve never cut my hair short before, but I was like, ‘I’m doing it.'”
Even so, Smith can’t entirely escape the Markle effect. “I did so much research that now Facebook, Instagram, etc. remind me every morning that I’m such a big fan because [they keep suggesting new royal accounts to follow],” she says, laughing.
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So what was it like stepping into the shoes of one of the most famous women in the world? And what happened when Smith found herself in London outside of Markle‘s home with Prince Harry? Here, she shares all that and more.
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View photos Lifetime More Glamour: When was the first time you were mistaken for Meghan?
Tiffany Smith : The first time it happened was when she was on Suits and started dating Harry. People would come up to me and say, “Do you know who you look like?” But the funniest story is that a [couple years ago] I was in London doing another job, and I was training for a half-marathon and had on my L.A. Dodgers baseball cap. I was running in the park, which happened to be Kensington Park where Kensington Palace is. I asked a random guy to take a photo of me, and he was like, “Are you Meghan Markle?” I was like, “No, that’s so sweet, but I’m not her.” That night I went out with girlfriends who live in London, and they were like, “You realize you were legitimately asking someone to take a photo of you in front of her new house.” [ Laughs ] I even told that story in my audition for this role.
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Did you and Meghan ever cross paths on the audition circuit?
Tiffany : We didn’t. It’s only been the last couple years that I’ve been super focused on acting; I was mainly doing hosting and presenting.
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What similarities do you and Meghan share?
Tiffany : I was born in Los Angeles, and I’m multi-racial, so I come from a mixed background. My mom went to the same Montessori school here in California that she went to.
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So what was your audition like for this role? Did you watch Parisa Fitz-Henley’s portrayal in the first Harry and Meghan Lifetime movie?
Tiffany : When the audition came up, I did watch the movie because I wanted to make sure it was something I could get behind since it was the same director and team. If I was going to do it, I wanted to love the first movie. And I did. Everyone was incredible. When I booked it, I had a friend that knew Parisa, so I said, “Do you think she’d want to chat?” We ended up having a two-hour conversation before I went to Vancouver to shoot, and then a long lunch when I got back. It was really awesome because so much of who Meghan is supporting other women and female empowerment. It was really cool to get together with her.
What was your favorite or most memorable scene to film?
Tiffany : One of my favorite scenes to shoot was the first time that Charlie, who plays Harry, and I had to kiss. We were in Vancouver filming, and it was really cold, but it wasn’t supposed to look cold. We lean in to do the kiss, and since Charlie is a lot taller than me, I felt a drip down my face—it was his snot. I didn’t want to embarrass him, but the closeup was snot on my face. Everyone started laughing. It was great because it immediately broke any awkwardness. Another scene I loved was anytime the entire family—Harry, William, Kate—was in a scene together.
You did a deep dive into the history of the royals. What surprised you most?
Tiffany : When you’re in the presence of the Queen, you call her “Your Majesty” the first time you talk to her. It’s “ma’am” from then on
View photos Sergei Bachlakov/Lifetime More Are there any of Meghan’s mannerisms that you picked up?
Tiffany : Watching her with Harry…she’s so beautiful, but she kind of looks up through her eyelashes. So that was one of the things I incorporated. She also tucks her hair—it’s not a real tuck, but she kind of brushes it back
The film covers a lot of ground of what Harry and Meghan went through in their first year of marriage. Was there anything that happened to Meghan that was hard for you to even wrap your head around?
Tiffany : The stuff that stuck out the most to me was everything with her dad. Those were some of the hardest scenes. I’m super close to my parents, so thinking about that and how I would respond—and then being in such a public position at that point—was something I couldn’t believe really happened to her, and that she handled it as beautifully as she did. There are so many times where people are like, “Well, you’re supposed to be this. You can’t be this and this.” For me, doing those scenes helped me see she is a strong, empowered, put-together, incredible woman, who can also cry when she’s around someone she feels safe and comfortable with. That‘s why I really wanted to make sure [the scenes we did about her dad] were handled as respectfully as possible
View photos Lifetime More If you could talk to Meghan or ask her anything, what would you say?
Tiffany : There’s a scene in [the first movie] where a little girl goes up to her and says she thought she would never see someone who was like her become a princess. That’s one of the biggest things that stuck out to me. So I would thank her for being such a great, incredible role model for women, but also for multi-racial or mixed girls. I grew up experiencing that world, and it’s awesome to see her get to do the things she’s done and be so joyful and positive. And I’d ask her if she has any advice for having a strong career and getting what you’re striving for
The movie ends with Meghan and Harry as parents to baby Archie. Would you want to play her again as a mother?
Tiffany : It was a life-changing experience for me, and I can’t imagine if I did it again that I wouldn’t feel the same way. So we’ll see. We’ll see how everybody responds, and then it will be a question for Lifetime
Why was it life-changing?
Tiffany : I’ve been acting for a couple of years now, and this is my first lead role, which is something I’ve always wanted and felt ready to do. It was one of those things where you realize, “OK, I can do that. What’s next?”
Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal airs tonight, May 27, on Lifetime. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Originally Appeared on Glamour