Suits' Rafferty: "He pulled myself and Gabriel (Macht) aside and said 'we're on to something.'"
LIKEGAME OF Thrones or Orange Is The New Black, Suits is one of those shows which has permeated all levels of the TV watching audience. From your friend, to your hairdresser to your mum, 'have you seen Suits?' is an unavoidable question in the television conversation. The exploits of Harvey, Mike, Louis, Rachel, Donna and Jessica are fervently consumed across the globe (perhaps even more so now Rachel, a.k.a. Meghan Markle, has gone on to become one of the most recognisable faces on the planet). Centering on a high-profile New York law firm where one of the partners practices the profession without any qualifications, Suits has run for seven consecutive seasons since 2011. But how does it feel to be involved? We spoke with Sarah Rafferty, who plays former secretary and now COO of the firm on the show, to find out as she makes her way to Dubai for the Global Teacher Prize on March 18, where teachers from around the world are celebrated for their achievements.
It must be every actor's dream to be on a show like Suits?
It's amazing. It's beyond my wildest dreams. It's hard to imagine it plays all over the world. Last year I went to Ghana and someone greeted me as Donna. It felt strange that I was so far away on a continent I'd never been to before and they addressed me as Donna. It's a thrill people love it.
Is it ever a problem being referred to as Donna? Do you share any common characteristics?
I never take offence. She's great. Sometimes I can sense a little disappointment when I'm at the grocery store with my children and people meet me and I'm not in Dior. In the first few seasons she was quite silly. Now the show has turned super serious but she still tries to have this lightheartedness.
They also did something fun. Early on, they wrote in little bits of what we are really like. I'm a theatre geek and so they made Donna passionate about the theatre.
The cast always appears quite tight-knit, Is that the case?
It is! We have shared an amazing and unique experience with each other over seven years. We will always share that forever. I don't think any of us could have planned for the show to be so long-running.
As successful as it is, we still share that 'pinch me' moment with each other.
At what point did you know it was going to be a hit?
I feel like I'm the one that's very disassociated from it. I feel like I forget. I'll be out in the world and I'll meet someone who loves Suits and it takes me a while to get back into the mindset where I realise that it has made an impact and this person is being nice enough to tell me. I think my cast mate Rick Hoffman always thought it was special and would work. He saw the pilot and the night before it aired, he pulled myself and Gabriel (Macht) aside and said 'we're on to something.'
By the time we got to season three, that's when we began taking trips to college campuses. Meeting the college students in a huge auditorium and feeling their energy, that was always a 'wow' moment.
What would you like to do after Suits?
Maybe a complete one-eighty from Donna. That might be interesting.
You're on your way to Dubai. Have you been before?
It's my first time coming over. Why is it every time I mention coming people go 'oh wow that's great!' I can't wait to learn about the history and the culture. We're going on a desert safari. the whole shebang.
In your opinion, how important is it to recognise teachers?
I think it's amazing. My mum was a teacher so I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the kind of passion and dedication teachers have. So it makes complete sense that we recognise, celebrate and elevate them to the stars they are.
Was she your stand-out teacher growing up?
What was great about it for me was I got to see how inspired she was by her career. She had four daughters, she raised all of us with my dad and had this career where, when I was very little, I was jealous that her attention was pulled away from me. I wanted her to play with me when she was doing her lesson plans and marking papers. But when I got a little older I got to meet a lot of the young women she taught and that was a remarkable experience. I saw in their eyes this glimmer and gratefulness for my mother. She inspired them. Because of that, after I had my daughter and before my mum retired, I visited her classroom so that my daughter could see how her grandma taught. She created a space where these women were brave and engaged and articulate. I did also have my own teachers. My parents were very dedicated to my education and went to some amazing schools.
Did you ever consider going into teaching?
I either wanted to be a teacher or an actor. Teachers inspire a lot of connectivity and I think actors have that too. There's a connection we build between the audience and an incredible amount of empathy and I think teachers share that.
Maybe hold a few acting master classes?
I would need to go to school to learn how to be a teacher but I know I'd love to. With my friends and colleagues, when we were starting out, we all helped each other with our auditions and worked on projects with each other. It was always inspiring.