Meghan Markle Speaks Out for First Time About Her Post-Royal Voiceover Gig with Disney
"I hope that when people see this film they realize how connected we all are," Meghan Markle said
“I am really grateful to be able to bring this story of elephants to life,” Meghan, 38, said in a Disney interview filmed last summer that aired on Good Morning America on Monday. “I’ve been really lucky to be able to have hands-on experience with elephants in their natural habitat. When you spend time connecting to them in their wildlife you understand that we have a role to play in their preservation and their safety.”
“These creatures are so majestic and at the same time, they are so sensitive and so connected,” the Duchess of Sussex continued. “You see in this film just how remarkable they are. Their memories are amazing, the close connection of the herd, the protectiveness of their young — I think they are a lot more like us than they are different.”
“I hope that when people see this film they realize how connected we all are and if we had more of an awareness about the obstacles they are facing we would take care of each other, this planet and these animals in a very different way,” she concluded.
The former Suits star’s collaboration with Disney, which benefits Elephants Without Borders, pre-dates Meghan and Prince Harry’s groundbreaking decision to step down as senior working royals, which went into effect on March 31. She recorded the voiceover last fall in London.
The royal couple, who moved to L.A. with their son Archie last month, is continuing to support the causes that mean most to them as they exit royal life and work towards financial independence.
They were recently spotted around their new home of Los Angeles delivering free meals on behalf of Project Angel Food, a non-profit charity that cooks, prepares and delivers meals to people living with critical illnesses who are at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They were extremely down to earth and genuinely interested in every single person they met,” Richard Ayoub, Project Angel Food’s executive director, told PEOPLE. “Meghan said she wanted to show Harry Los Angeles through the eyes of philanthropy.”
Elephant follows African elephant Shani and her spirited son, Jomo, as their herd make an epic journey hundreds of miles across the vast Kalahari Desert. Led by their great matriarch, Gaia, the family faces brutal heat, dwindling resources and persistent predators, as they follow in their ancestor’s footsteps on a quest to reach a lush, green paradise.
Both Meghan and Harry have a history of supporting the majestic animals. The royal couple traveled to the African country of Botswana in 2017 to assist Dr. Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders, getting up close to the elephants while aiding in the conversation effort. Meghan became aware of the documentary through mutual friends of Dr. Chase and had seen some of the footage.
Knowing her passion for the subject and the footage, the filmmakers, Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, approached Meghan last summer, asking if she would consider doing the narration. Despite speculative reporting, there is no further deal between Disney and the Duchess of Sussex for other projects at this time.
“She was absolutely intrigued by the elephants and transfixed, especially by the female empowerment side,” Berlowitz told PEOPLE. “How important the matriarchs are to the story; it really is all about female leadership. It’s a different form of power — it’s about consensual leadership. It’s also very inclusive, as well — very contemporary. She was absolutely fascinated by that.”
Meghan recorded her narration last October at London’s famed Pinewood Studios. Harry joined her in the studio, while Archie stayed home.
“She had a small child,” Berlowitz said. “You could totally tell she was identifying with [elephants] Shani and Jojo, and keeping little ones in tow. She felt like a normal mom going through the normal trials and tribulations of bringing up a baby. Like one of us.”
“It was amazing having [Harry] there,” she continued. “He had a connection to Botswana, of course.” The Duke of Sussex had his own Hollywood moment on set. He provided a little direction, from, as he put it “the cheap seats.”
“Harry was correcting her pronunciation!” Linfield adds with a laugh. Meghan also did her own improvising, filmmaker Roy Conli added.
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“She made it her own,” Conli said. “I always say, ‘If you feel something, do it, make it organic.’ She’s such a diligent professional and she wanted to get it right. It was a delight all the way around.”