In her latest podcast episode, the former Suits actress said it was “really hard” and that she was “the smart one forever and ever and ever” rather than the pretty one during her time at Immaculate Heart all-girls Catholic school in Los Angeles.
The duchess also confessed to her love of Archie comics and redheads like the Duke of Sussex, and told how she dreamed of a “cookie cutter-looking perfect life” but read the series because she was “alone so much as a child” and was a “latchkey kid”.
She criticised suggestions when she became engaged to Harry that she was lucky to be chosen by him, saying the duke had “countered the narrative” by saying: “They’ve got it all wrong. I’m the lucky one because you chose me.”
Kaling asked Meghan, who outlined her struggles during the 48 minute episode: “Were you not the pretty one growing up?”
Meghan replied: “No. Oh God, no.”
Kaling remarked: “What? That is news to me.”
Meghan said: “Ugly duckling. Ya no… maybe not conventional beauty, now maybe that would be seen as beautiful, but massive, frizzy, curly hair and a huge gap in my teeth. I was the smart one forever and ever and ever and ever, and then just sort of grew up.”
She added: “I never had anyone to sit with at lunch. I was always a little bit of a loner and really shy, and didn’t know where I fit in.
“I was like ‘I’ll become the president of the multicultural club and the president of sophomore class and the president of this and French club’ and, by doing that, I had meetings at lunchtime.”
Kaling said she thought Meghan was that “one nice hot girl who has her head screwed on”, but Meghan replied: “No, it was really hard”.
The duchess, who quit as a working senior royal two years ago, discussed Kaling’s decision to have two children on her own, without a partner or spouse, in the episode entitled The Stigma Of The Singleton With Mindy Kaling.
It was released on Tuesday, the same day Meghan and the Duke of Sussex travelled to Germany for an Invictus Games event, and a day after the duchess addressed delegates at the One Young World Summit in Manchester on Monday.
Kaling, who later tweeted that she loved sitting down with Meghan, told the duchess after hearing the difficulties she described from her younger days: “You do seem so intimidating. Your life is together, you’re so beautiful.
“And even the Oprah thing is like, ‘oh my god, she has chickens! Like who has her shit together enough to raise chickens and kids?’ Like, come on and it’s nice to know that you were a lonely kid who didn’t like necessarily being that way.
“I didn’t know that and I’m happy I do.”
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) September 6, 2022
Meghan replied: “Yeah, well, I’m glad we both just got to share with each other.”
The duchess hit the headlines last week with her controversial interview in The Cut in which she said she had made an “active effort” to forgive the royal family, warning “especially knowing that I can say anything”.
She also said she was told there was the same jubilation in South Africa when she married Harry as there was when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison.
In the podcast, Meghan hit back at “gendered” and “stereotyped” comments she said she faced when she became engaged to Harry in 2017.
She said: “Everyone was just like, ‘Oh my god, you’re so lucky, he chose you’.
“At a certain point, after you hear it a million times over, you’re like, ‘well, I chose him too’.
“But, thankfully, I have a partner who was countering that narrative for me and going ‘They’ve got it all wrong. I’m the lucky one because you chose me’.”
Meghan gave no further attribution to the remarks.
Her comment was, however, interspersed with an archive audio excerpt from the royal wedding day of crowds cheering and an American broadcaster saying: “The happy couple has enchanted the world with their real-life fairytale.”
She also talked about how the Archie comics were her favourite as a child and how she romanticised the books.
The series’ main character, all-American teenager Archie Andrews, has red hair like Harry.
Kaling told Meghan: “Well, you like redheads.”
Meghan, whose three-year-old son is called Archie, laughed and said: “I do and I like the name Archie,” describing it as all being “full circle”.
She said: “I was alone so much as a child, right, and also a latchkey kid, and I think I read a lot of Archie comic books ironically.
“My son is not named after Archie comic books, but I loved them. I collected them.”
She added: “I think for me, especially, my parents split up when I was around two, three years old, and I always wanted this sort of cookie-cutter-looking perfect life and you looked at that and there’s like a boy in a letterman jacket.
“I romanticised that. It’s all part of the things that make you have this idea of what you want your life to be like when you grew up.
“I always thought I’m way more Betty than Veronica and am I going to get the guy one day? And I was the smart one, not the pretty one.”
Archie and his comic book friends Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge have been updated for a modern audience with Riverdale, a Netflix teenage drama series.