‘Do Better’: Audra McDonald Blasts the Relentless Criticism of Meghan Markle

(l-r) Audra McDonald speaks during the the 2019 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 30, 2019 in Pasadena, California; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a Commonwealth Day Youth Event at Canada House on March 10, 2019 in London, England.
(l-r) Audra McDonald speaks during the the 2019 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 30, 2019 in Pasadena, California; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a Commonwealth Day Youth Event at Canada House on March 10, 2019 in London, England.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images), Chris Jackson (WPA Pool /Getty Images)

This is what it looks like when women stand up for each other.

Broadway royalty Audra McDonald came to the defense of another royal over the weekend, calling out the online abuse and dubious reporting on Meghan Markle—now, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Posting a throwback video of her own eight-month-pregnant belly (McDonald gave birth for the second time in 2016), McDonald addressed the rampant scrutiny of the now-pregnant Markle (much of which we’ve seen in our own comments sections), as well as the hypocrisy of some of the criticism coming from platforms supposedly in support of women, writing:

“Me at about 8 months pregnant. The reason I’m posting this is because of #MeghanMarkle. I cannot believe what this woman has had to endure from social media and the press. Then today to read about how ‘weird’ her body language is by a supposed Women’s magazine that supposedly prides itself on celebrating fierce, independent, strong women who can do anything and have it all?!? Do better.

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McDonald also noted the specific vulnerabilities of pregnancy, calling herself “a swollen, hot, sweaty, enormous, flatulent, in search of my feet, hot fudge sundae junkie, nervously excited, pudgy faced, waddling goddess” at the same point in her gestation that the Duchess is now.

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“The thought of having to go through all of that plus having a million cameras in my face, bullied left right and center, and still be gracious, elegant, gorgeous, and full of purpose in front of the whole world is unimaginable,” she wrote.

Appearing on Today on Monday to promote the return of her CBS All-Access show, The Good Fight, McDonald doubled down on her admonishment to “do better.”

“You’ve got a body growing inside of you. And so, I just felt like, you know, someone needs to cut this girl a break, you know? And I said, you know, leave her alone.”

McDonald also admitted that Markle’s biracial heritage has sparked feelings of protectiveness, as McDonald’s own daughters are biracial.

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“Do you feel like part of the criticism that’s aimed at her is rooted in some of that?” Today anchor Craig Melvin (also a parent of biracial children) asked.

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“Yes, I would say so,” McDonald laughed.

We’d say so, too—and unfortunately, the vitriol comes from those who comprise both sides of Markle’s racial makeup, with alarming regularity. As we also have the aim of supporting women, we’re applauding McDonald’s public acknowledgment of the abuse lobbed at Markle, and are simply going to share the same sentiment, when it comes to speaking about the duchess or any other woman, pregnant or otherwise:

Do better.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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DISCUSSION

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Speaks to the limited public space WOC in particular black women are allowed. I’m a history buff. I could care less if Great Britain if becomes a republic. I am fascinated by how WOC navigate hostile spaces. For Meghan, much of the criticism seems centered on authenticity.

Her actions are portrayed as fraudulent whether it’s discussing the role of feminism in society, writing notes for sex workers or enjoying her pregnant belly. She’s too black for the monarchists who worry that her exotic gene pool portends the end of whiteness. Her fair skin and lack of visible black male figures in her life have led to accusations that she is not black enough. She gets chided for not following royal protocol and slammed for accepting a title — a combustible mix of class and racial resentments. Meghan is responsible for her race yet is not allowed to speak on her documented struggles because of who she married. It reminds me of “The Little Mermaid” who loses her voice and endures painful, bloody feet for love.