Tonight the show Suits returns for its second season on USA. Though the show is mainly about the relationship between hotshot, ace attorney Harvey Spector and his new, unconventional associate, Mike Ross, the three main women on the show, head partner Jessica Pearson, top notch assistant Donna and bold paralegal Rachel Zane, are also quite compelling attractions. I was lucky enough to chat with these actresses, Sarah Rafferty, Gina Torres and Meghan Markle, at The USA Network and MR PORTER.com’s Fashion Show ” A Suits Story” about how they prepared to play women at very different stages in their career working at a top New York law firm.
Now in case you aren’t familiar with the plot, here it is: Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a brilliant college dropout with an eidetic memory (think Will Hunting but way less violent and likes to wear suits.) Mike’s childhood dream of becoming a lawyer was derailed after he was caught selling a math exam to the Dean’s daughter.In Season One his main career is taking the LSATs for other people. Cue Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), one of New York City’s top attorneys who has recently been promoted to senior partner at his firm, and is forced by company policy to hire an associate. After an accidental interview with Mike ( a drug deal may have been involved), Harvey is impressed by the younger man’s quick wits, his encyclopedic knowledge of the law, and his genuine desire to be an attorney, and hires him. One problem though: Mike doesn’t have a law degree, much less a Harvard law degree, which the firm requires. Instead of finding someone else Harvey decides to hire Mike and lie to his bosses. As you can imagine, in between intense cases, chaos ensues.
At the firm we meet Donna (Rafferty), Harvey’s amazing assistant, Rachel Zane (Markle), a paralegal who hasn’t been able to pass the LSATs and the always composed and fair Jessica Pearson (Torres.) The men on the show are great but it is the women who put a little bit of excitement and a whole lot of pressure, both professionally and personally, on these men.
Donna is the perfect assistant. She is literally Harvey’s right-hand man and knows him maybe better than he knows himself. She is also the comic relief on the show. I asked Rafferty how she prepared for her role. “I called up my brother in law who is a corporate lawyer and just asked him what would make the perfect assistant? Basically, it comes down to anticipating everything.” She said Donna is such a good assistant because she is able to read Harvey’s mind. “Donna is always right. But for the first time this season, we get to see her be wrong.”
As for other Season 2 spoilers Rafferty said we would get to see the back story about how all these characters met, including Donna and Harvey who have been working together for years. She said she was also excited that we would get to see to see the characters of Rachel and Donna grow closer this season (we saw a little hint last year.) “It is really nice to see women getting along in the workplace.”
Meghan Markle (Rachel) also called upon a family member for some professional inspiration with her role as the paralegal; Her niece was starting the law school process so she turned to her. This season we will return to Rachel’s professional struggles as she has basically convinced herself she cannot pass the LSATs. “That is really her Achilles’ heel and I would love to see her grow in her career but at the same time I think that makes her very relatable,” she told me. Plus, the fact that Rachel has feelings for Mike, a man who gets paid to pass the LSATs for other people, adds an interesting dynamic to their relationship. Though she is excited to see the character grow professionally she is also thrilled because we get to see more of a personal side of Rachel. “We get to see some of the people in her life and really explore Rachel. She has a really playful side.” Though Rachel’s character has been called relatable by many, there is one criticism she does keep receiving. ‘Everyone tells me, ‘Paralegals don’t dress like that!’ She does have an amazing closet. I have definitely borrowed from it.” Rachel is usually seen sporting sky-high Manolo Blahnik stilettos and gorgeous outfits, not the typical paralegal uniform. But hey, someone needs to give those boys in their fancy suits a little competition!
And finally I asked Gina Torres how she prepared for her role as the sole female partner at a top New York law firm. Apparently just winging it was her approach. “I just really liked the script,” she said.