When the cameras stop rolling, Suits star Meghan Markle is off and running to support one of her many humanitarian causes.
And the L.A.-born actress, who has captured the heart of Prince Harry, is being praised for her intelligence and “compassion” by those who have met her through One Young World, a U.K.-based charity that gathers together the brightest young leaders from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change.
The actress, who has just wrapped her filming the latest season of Suits, is a counselor for the organization.
Thuli Madonsela, a senior South African lawyer who recently won the Forbes Africa Person of the Year, met Markle in Ottawa earlier this year.
“What struck me about her was her personality, compassion and her brain. She is extremely bright,” Madonsela tells PEOPLE.
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“I wanted to know why she was involved in helping young people to discover themselves,” she continues. “She encountered some forms of discrimination and awkward moments. When she had this platform, she thought it was her job to make it easier for other young people to discover themselves and lead their fullest life.”
Madonsela adds, “Apart from being smart, she’s a very balanced, mature, original thinker.”
Phiwokuhle Nogwaza had a memorable encounter with Markle in Ireland at the organization summit in 2014.
“She came across and genuine and warm,” she tells PEOPLE. “Her speech still resonates with me today. It was a call to action – if someone like her can be involved in the work she is involved in then not a lot of us have any reason not to be active.”
This is not her paying “lip service,” Nogwaza, a lawyer, adds, as “human rights are close to her heart.”
“She was mobilizing people to get involved in whatever little way that you can. She is basically saying this is a problem we all have to deal with and we need to put the right voices are put their weight behind it, which she is happy to do.
“She is really soft and gentle. She is friendly and very warm and engaging. It didn’t feel like I was speaking to someone from one of the biggest shows on TV. It was like talking to a regular girl. She knew the problems in detail, which I found incredible. She is humble and really down to earth.”
Markle and Prince Harry share a passion for humanitarian causes. The actress, who began dating Prince Harry earlier this year, is “head over heels” for the royal and “doing everything she can to make the relationship work,” a friend of the actress told PEOPLE. “It’s been an absolute fairy tale for Meghan.”
The busy couple has been fitting in time with each other when possible. Markle made a short trip to London recently to visit her boyfriend before he took off for his two-week tour of the Caribbean on behalf of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.