BEFORE Meghan Markle had her big break as Rach Zane on US legal drama Suits, she had some far less glamorous roles on-screen.
Years of being a job actress meant she had to endure freezing studios, stand for hours in uncomfortable high heels, and wear dresses designed to show-off her legs and cleavage -complete with a pair of Spanx and chicken fillets.
At age 25, Meghan landed a role as one of the briefcase girls on game show Deal or No Deal after successfully passing an audition.
New book Meghan, A Hollywood Princess, written by Andrew Norton, has given an insight into Meghan’s career before she became royalty.
Meghan, along with 25 other girls, held numbered briefcases which the contestants would select one by one.
Meghan landed briefcase number 24, and although the pay was good — $800 an episode — life behind the scenes was a different story.
The host of the show at the time, Howie Mandel, recalls a young Meghan on set.
Even at that young age, according to Fox News, Meghan “was slightly duchessy”, Mandel revealed.
Fellow briefcase girl Tameka Jacobs, number 21, “took Meghan under her wing” and showed her some tricks of the trade.
Norton’s book said: “She briefed her on the daily routine and what to bring to set — a pair of cosy Ugg boots after a day in high-heels in near-freezing temperatures was a must.”
Filming would begin at a gruelling 5.30am, as Meghan and the other girls endured hours of hair and make-up and final fittings for their “skimpy outfits”.
“With outfit changes every episode, and multiple episodes filmed per day, they often had to endure three separate fittings,” the book reads.
“A rack of beautiful matching ball gowns would arrive, to be unceremoniously hacked to pieces so that the girls’ legs and décolletage were on full display.
“After rough fittings for length and shape, there would be a final wardrobe session in which the girls sucked in everything and the dresses were pinned down.
“Some dresses were so tight that the girls couldn’t even bend down to put on their agonisingly high heels, so an assistant would be on hand to help.”
And that was only what was on show, with the girls also employing a host of tricks to look the part.
The book continues: “The briefcase girls all wore Spanx shapewear, not only to make their stomachs flatter but to keep them warm in the Arctic studio temperatures.
“As the final touch, they inserted what briefcase girl number 13, Leyla Milani, liked to call ‘chicken cutlets’ — or sometimes wodges of tissue — into their bras to enhance their cleavage.”
Norton adds that Meghan “stood there for hour after hour, trying not to shiver, her feet sore from the cheap high heels, a painted smile on her face, she thought of the paycheck at the end of the week”.
Filming up to four episodes a day, sometimes the girls took home more than $23,000 a week, and the gruelling schedules followed by weeks off allowing the Duchess time for other auditions.
Markle has certainly come a long way from where she started.