Last night, I dreamed that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry knew my name. We met at a party, and Markle stared at me like she'd known me all her life. It was spectacular to be seen so thoroughly by the Duchess, even if she was literally a product of my imagination.
So imagine how good it must feel to look in the mirror, and see Markle staring back at you. Such is life for Akeisha Varnado Land, a Kansas City, MO-based influencer with a stunning resemblance to the actress-turned-royal-turned-"commoner." Last week, Land posted a selfie with her daughter, Greyson, on their joint Instagram account (which has a whopping 162k followers).
Naturally, the photo went viral. Just look at it! Land is Markle. Markle is Land. It's hard to know where the Duchess ends, and where the mommy influencer begins.
Commenters on the photo expressed their disbelief at Land's uncanny resemblance to Markle. “Omg I thought you were Meghan Markle for a sec," someone wrote. Another, "You very much look like Markle!" The photo even inspired confusion: "At first I thought it was [Markle]! But I was confused because I couldn't remember following her lol."
This single photo propelled Land to viral stardom. Within a day, the Markle lookalike was been interviewed by the Daily Mail, E! News, and OprahMag.com, and was the subject of articles from publications around the world.
Though this swell of media attention is unusual, Land is definitely used to the sentiment. Strangers come up to her all the time with the classic opener, "Has anybody ever told you you look just like...?"
The comparisons spiked began after the royal wedding. "It’s a pretty constant thing; however, I will say when I straightened my hair recently the comparison comments have picked up even more," Land told OprahMag.com over email.
Everyone, from strangers at the grocery store to close relatives, see the resemblance—everyone but Land. "I personally don't see the resemblance at all. But she's gorgeous; so I definitely take it as a compliment!" Land said.
While Land is an influencer, she's not normally the spotlight of her Instagram accounts—her daughter, Greyson, is the star. In fact, Land told BuzzFeed News in 2018 that, while Land originally started the Instagram account for herself, she eventually changed the account's name to focus on Greyson, since people and brands went so gaga over her adorable daughter.
"It’s overwhelming, to say the least! I’m just a mama from Missouri that is used to being behind the camera and behind the scenes. So this is certainly a step outside of my norm," Land told OprahMag.com.
The feeling is not necessarily a welcome one. Land told E! News this brush with stardom as given her "anxiety." However, the experience has also made her realize the limelight suits her. "I’d already planned to start featuring myself more. This has certainly helped jumpstart me getting out of my comfort zone of behind the camera!" Land told OprahMag.com.
If she ever needs a side hustle, she's found it. In addition to running a successful Instagram account, Land can have a thriving career as a Markle's stand-in, now that the Duchess is living in North America with her family.
"I always joke and say I need to have someone reach out to her people to let them know I'm always up for filling in for her as her doppelgänger if she doesn't want to go to any of the events she's invited to," Land told the Daily Mail.
If she ever does meet Markle—for a doppelgänger gig, or otherwise—Land knows exactly what she'll say.
"I’d just tell her that I see her. As a mama myself, I see her struggle. I know it. I’ve experienced it. I’d tell her she’s doing a great job, and that she is loved," Land told OprahMag.com.
This brush with viral stardom also gives Land greater empathy for her unofficial twin. "Even in the short time my photo has been circling I’ve seen some of the hatefulness that people write on social media. I can only imagine what [Markle and Harry] must go through on a daily," Land said.
As for the rest of us? We may not look like Ms. Markle—but we can still channel her wry, knowing smile, and have a powerful day.
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