Transcript for What Meghan Markle's childhood was like growing up in Southern California
Reporter: It's not a palace, it's not a mansion. In fact it's just an apartment above a garage, but for the very uncommon commoner born Rachel Meghan Markle, this was home. And if you follow the driveway back that's where the yard is and Meghan lived in the back upstairs. Meghan Markle grew up here in Los Angeles. Her father worked on various TV series here in town. Her mother got a masters in social work from the university of southern California, usc. And she describes her as a free-spirited clinical therapist. Reporter: Like so many children, including the one who would become her fiance, early in life Megan had to endure the divorce of her parents. They may have separated when she was around 2. Divorced when she was around 6. Starting at age two until around six Megan lived with her mom Doria, seen here on her Instagram in that garage apartment in the ethnically diverse middle-class miracle mile neighborhood according to nantille Charbonnet, their former landlord. She was gentle, she was soft, and perceptive. She was always listening and paying attention. Reporter: By all accounts her parents remained amicable and she caught the showbiz bug through her father's job as a director of photography for the bawdy 90's sitcom married with children. I need a vacation. Peg if you want to visit some place new, try the kitchen. Reporter: Her parents divorced when she was quite young. Her father worked on married with children. So from married with children to the Windsor clan. That's -- that's -- a neat arc. Reporter: Huge arc. Yes, the girl who will be marrying into the house of Windsor grew up in the house of Bundy. Here she is with members of the cast. On the set every day for ten years I was there. It's a very perverse place for a little girl to grow up and then the guests -- The first ten years of Meghan Markle's life in no way, shape, or form compare to or match up to the first ten years of any other princess's life ever. Ever. Reporter: With an African American mother and a white father, there is something else Meghan grapples with that sets her far apart from other Royals. I think we can safely say that dealing with profound issues of racism and inequality have not factored into any current princess's life. Reporter: The question of race and identity becomes a theme throughout Meghan's life. She's been outspoken about the topic here she is at a usa network event. I'm biracial. Most people can't really tell what I'm mixed with, so, much of my life has felt like being a fly on the wall. And so some of the slurs that I've heard, the really offensive jokes, or the names, it's just hit me in a really strong way. But it's not only issues of race she's tackling early on in life. Meghan was also confronting gender inequality in advertising. Don't believe it? See for yourself on this Nick news segment. My name is Meghan Markle and I'm 12 years old. It's always mom does this and mom does that. Reporter: As the story goes, this all came about after young Meghan saw this commercial during a class. Women are fighting greasy pots and pans -- I was furious. And I said I think I'll write a letter. The president of proctor and gamble proctor and gamble companies. I was wondering if you would be able to change your commercial to people all over America. Three months after Meghan wrote to the president of the company proctor and gamble changed the commercial. People are fighting greasy pots and pans with ivory clear. She had a lot of inner strength. She was spunky. She was feisty. She took our social justice teaching very seriously. Reporter: Christine Knudsen and MARIA polia both taught Meghan theology at the all girls school immaculate heart. I taught Meghan in this very classroom when she was a junior. Here we have a lot of girls who are multiracial multiethnic, and it makes life really interesting and it makes our classes really interesting. Reporter: These days, this photo of Meghan on the wall of has become the student body's star of fame. And she's one of our sisters. 'Cause like everyone that comes here is like, we're all so technically we could probably be part of the royal family too. She's so pretty. She's definitely really inspiring, and she knows what she's saying. We're like following her footsteps in a way. Yeah. She's definitely not afraid to say what she needs to say and stand up for whatever's right. So, three words I would use to describe Meghan would be kind, generous and enthusiastic. Reporter: Catherine knight first met Meghan in middle school. . I was in seventh grade. She was an eighth grader. And I just remember being so taken with her, I remember kind of running into her coming out of the bathroom one day. Like, bumping into her and thinking, "Oh, no." But -- and she was so nice. She's, like, "Oh, hi, how are you?" And, "Oh, I -- I loved your dance at -- at culture day," and it was one of those things where I was, like, "Oh, she knows who I am." Reporter: She still has the old yearbooks with Meghan's notes to her. It says, "Dear Catherine, hey, beautiful. How are you? I hope you've had as much fun getting to know me as I've had getting to know you. Meghan's middle and high school years were full of typical teenage fun roller skate parties goofing around with her friends and plenty of school dances. She even got the opportunity to see a bit of the world here she is, age 15, taking in the sites at her future in-laws house, Buckingham palace. Reporter: But most of all, it was on the stage in the school auditorium where her talent began to bloom. She was the star of damn Yankees. And she was very good. And I just remember thinking, "Oh my gosh, this girl has talent." She performed a song from a chorus line, the song, nothing. And I remember standing in the wings kind of watching the performance and thinking, like, "Wow." You know, it didn't feel like you were watching a high school performance. Reporter: But Charisse mordeno Tran remembers Megan for a much braver performance, the moment when Megan stepped in to protect her from some bullying seniors. She interrupted what they were saying, and she said, "We don't do that here." I was like, "Oh, my gosh. She stood up to these high schoolers. And -- and, you know, she doesn't even know who I am. And she's an 8th-grader, and I'm a 7th-grader." This is someone who is not going to stand for someone who's not being treated fairly or right. I don't even know if she even remembers that this happened, but I do, because it happened to me. And she was the one that came to my rescue. Reporter: By graduation day, MARIA pollia says Meghan is determined to make it big. She wanted to be the best that she could be on stage or wherever that career led her. It was not at all frivolous. "Oh I want to be a movie star." It was -- it was a very serious pursuit of the craft of acting. Reporter: That pursuit brings Megan to prestigious northwestern university in Chicago. At the time she is the first member of her family to attend college. I remember her being very positive she had a very strong persona. Reporter: At northwestern Meghan joins the kappa kappa gamma sorority. Here she is with her sisters and pursues degrees in theatre and international studies. My lasting memory of Megan is her profound sense of self, as she knew who she was, it's that perspective, that I suspected would prepare her well for the world outside. Reporter: The future looks bright but even her elite education can't prepare her for Hollywood's school of hard knocks. This is a ruthless, cruel place.
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