The Duchess of Sussex has called on her star-studded network of actors, activists, fashion designers, musicians and world leaders to back her 40×40 project, which was launched yesterday to coincide with her 40th birthday.
Close friends including actress Priyanka Chopra, fashion designer Misha Nonoo and makeup artist Daniel Martin joined Hillary Clinton and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in announcing their support for the initiative which encourages people to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work.
It is still unclear as to exactly how the project will work, or whether there will be any way to measure its success.
Meghan announced the scheme yesterday in a video alongside her actress friend Melissa McCarthy. She personally chose 40 friends in high places to help publicize the announcement, including British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and Prince Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie.
A full list of all 40 participants has not been shared but more than 20 of them have eagerly posted about their involvement on social media.
Each person was sent a branded t-shirt emblazoned with the message: ‘For women who give everything. We give our time. Are you in?’ The accompanying note explaining the project was signed ‘As Ever, Meghan’.
There was also an embargo notice, notifying recipients as to when they could post about the project, so as not to ruin Meghan’s big reveal.
The Duchess of Sussex has called on her star-studded network of actors, activists, fashion designers, musicians and world leaders to back her 40×40 project, which was launched in a video yesterday (pictured) to coincide with her 40th birthday
Actress and TV star Gabrielle Union was asked by the Duchess to take part in the initiative – and proudly showed off her branded ‘FORTY’ t-shirt on social media, alongside a message announcing her involvement
Revealed: 26 of Meghan’s 40×40 power players who have been revealed so far, including Hillary Clinton, Ciara and Princess Eugenie
2. DR NADINE BURKE HARRIS
3. DEEPAK CHOPRA
4. PRIYANKA CHOPRA
6. HILLARY CLINTON
7. KATIE COURIC
8. EDWARD ENNINFUL
9. PRINCESS EUGENIE
10. AMANDA NGUYEN
11. MISHA NONOO
12. DANIEL MARTIN
13. MELISSA McCARTHY
14. STELLA McCARTNEY
15. SARAH PAULSON
16. SHERYL SANDBERG
17. SOPHIE TRUDEAU
18. TESSY OJO
19. SOFIA CARSON
20. TRACEE ELLIS ROSS
21. DR IBRAM X KENDI
22. GLORIA STEINEM
23. JOSE ANDRES
24. AMANDA GORMAN
25. GABRIELLE UNION
26. STACEY ABRAMS
A video of the t-shirts was shared on Instagram by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Amanda Nguyễn. It arrived neatly wrapped in tissue paper in a white box adorned with a black ribbon.
The label on the front read: ‘With compliments of the office of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’
Announcing the 40×40 in the video, recorded in her spotless £11million mansion in Montecito, California, Meghan told Melissa McCarthy: ‘It‘s my 40th birthday and I’ve got an idea. Because I’m turning 40, I’m asking 40 friends to give 40 minutes of their time to mentor a woman who is remobilising back into the workforce.
‘Over 2million women in the US alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to Covid. And I think if we all do it, and all commit 40 minutes to an act of service, it can have a ripple effect.’
Here, FEMAIL breaks down the big names who have pledged to support the Duchess’s initiative.
Adele, 33, has not posted about 40×40 on her Instagram account but was among the participants listed in a statement from the Duchess of Sussex’s office.
The British singing sensation reportedly befriended Harry and Meghan when they moved to California last year and even went so far as to recommend a nursery for Archie.
Adele, who is now dating NBA sports agent Rich Paul, also once admitted to having a crush on Prince Harry.
Politician Stacey Abrams, a Yale-educated tax expert, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year for her efforts to promote access to voting in her home state of Georgia. She appeared on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first and only Archewell podcast episode in December 2020.
Abrams entered politics in 2006 when she won a seat in the Georgia Assembly as a Democrat and went on to become the first female minority leader of her party.
She also worked as a who narrowly lost the Georgia Governor’s race to Brian Kemp in 2018, has has since become a high-profile voting rights activist.
She published eight fiction romance novels under the nom de plume Selena Montgomery, and last year released her first work of fiction under her own name, While Justice Sleeps.
Team Meghan: Adele, 33, left, has not posted about 40×40 on her Instagram account but was among the participants listed in a statement from the Duchess of Sussex’s office. Right, politician Stacey Abrams, who appeared on the Sussexes’ podcast
Stacey Abrams shared an Instagram video announcing her support for the Duchess’s initiative
Another Archewell podcast veteran, José Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, which provides food to people in need around the world.
The Sussexes last year chose the World Central Kitchen as the recipient of the first donation from the Archewell Foundation. It was not announced how much the couple contributed but the money will be put towards building four Community Relief Centers – the first in Domenica, and the second in Puerto Rico.
Charity chief: José Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, which provides food to people in need
World Central Kitchen was founded in 2010 in response to the Haiti earthquake by Andres, a celebrity chef who runs 16 restaurants from New York City, Washington DC, and Miami to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico.
DR NADINE BURKE HARRIS
Nadine Burke Harris is a Canadian-American pediatrician who has been the Surgeon General of California, where Harry and Meghan live, since 2019.
She is an advisory council member for the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ campaign, and the founder and former chief executive officer of the Center for Youth Wellness. Dr Burke Harris has pledged to volunteer at her children’s school for her commitment to the 40×40 initiative.
Disney Channel star Sofia Carson, 28, is one of the youngest supporters of the Duchess of Sussex’s campaign. The actress, who appeared in the Descendants series of films and is the global ambassador of beauty brand Revlon.
Announcing her support for 40×40 on Instagram, Sofia said she was ‘proud’ to have been asked to take part.
Deepak Chopra, 74, who contributed to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first – and only – Spotify podcast episode, is a wellness guru with a star-studded following.
He is the author of bestselling book Perfect Health, which has been described as the ‘first practical guide to harnessing the healing power of the mind’. Chopra, who champions meditation and alternative medicine, describes stress as the ‘biggest pandemic of our time’.
Actress Priyanka Chopra, 39, has been friends with Meghan since before she met Prince Harry and was a guest at the Sussexes’ wedding in 2018.
Priyanka, who is married to musician Nick Jonas, made headlines last month when she appeared to ‘ignore’ Prince William and Kate Middleton’s arrival to the Royal Box at Wimbledon.
‘Meghan, you are incredible, I am so excited to support your campaign,’ popstar Ciara Wilson said as she announced her support for the Duchess of Sussex’s campaign. It is not known if Meghan and Ciara know each other but the singer is known for backing social causes that champion women.
With almost 29million Instagram followers, Ciara, who is married to NFL quarterback Russell Wilson also has an impressive social media reach.
Former US Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton continues her public support of the Duchess of Sussex after she praised the royal’s bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.
Speaking at the time Mrs Clinton said she understood what it felt like to face the level of public scrutiny Meghan had experienced.
Speaking out: Hillary Clinton (left) and singer Ciara (right) both pledged their support to the Duchess of Sussex’s initiative
A-list fan: ‘Meghan, you are incredible, I am so excited to support your campaign,’ Ciara said on Instagram
Public support: Hillary Clinton was among those who showed their support for 40×40 on social media
US journalist and TV queen Katie Couric works with Prince Harry on the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. It was announced in March that Harry would join the six-month study as a commissioner, while Couric is co-chair.
She has also worked with Omid Scobie, the co-author of Finding Freedom and one of the Sussexes’ preferred journalists. Couric is the founder of the daily Wake Up Call newsletter.
TRACEE ELLIS ROSS
US actress and TV producer Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein, shared a trio of photos modelling her ‘FORTY’ t-shirt. Tracee, who has 10.4million Instagram followers, is outspoken on women’s rights and campaigns for greater racial equality.
US actress and TV producer Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein, shared a trio of photos modelling her ‘FORTY’ t-shirt
Edward Enninful is the editor-and-chief of British Vogue and worked closely with the Duchess of Sussex on her 2019 September issue.
He describes the royal as a ‘friend’ and has described her as a ‘very brave woman’ in interviews. Enninful has posted behind-the-scenes photos with the duchess, showing them dressing up together.
Princess Eugenie showed just how close she is to her cousin’s wife yesterday when she shared a birthday Instagram message to ‘dear Meghan’. Eugenie and Meghan met through mutual friends – they are both close to Misha Nonoo – before the Duchess met Prince Harry.
Harry and Eugenie have long been close and have been described as ‘the best of friends’. Their relationship has only strengthened over the years. Harry and Meghan have allowed Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank to stay at Frogmore Cottage and spoke warmly of the couple to Oprah.
Media heavyweights: US journalist Katie Couric (left), who works with Prince Harry on the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder and Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue and a friend of the Duchess of Sussex
Fashion editor: Edward Enninful, who worked with Meghan Markle on her September issue, shared this Instagram post
Family ties: Princess Eugenie (left with Jack Brooksbank) shared a personal message supporting ‘dear Meghan’ (right)
Poet Amanda Gorman burst onto the global stage after delivering her address at President Biden’s inauguration in January.
Social media star Amanda counts Oprah and the Obamas among her fans and describes Meghan as her ‘friend’. The talented 23-year-old is also a model and signed to international agency IMG.
Controversial: Boston University professor Dr Ibram X. Kendi
DR IBRAM X KENDI
Dr Ibram X. Kendi is a tenured professor of history and the director and founder of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research. He drew backlash in September 2020 after he suggested Amy Coney Barrett, who has two adopted black children, was racist and using her kids as props.
Dr Kendi is the author of three number 1 New York Times bestsellers and last year was named to Time100 list of most influential people in the world.
He describes himself on his website as a hardcore antiracist and softcore vegan and married his wife, Dr. Sadiqa Kendi, a pediatric emergency physician, in 2013.
Makeup artist Daniel is believed to have known Meghan for over a decade, having met her while the former actress worked on Suits, and remained in contact with the Duchess throughout her life in the Royal Family.
He did her makeup on her wedding day and attended her baby shower in New York. Daniel was one of the first to visit the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they moved into Frogmore Cottage shortly before Archie’s birth.
To launch 40×40, Meghan roped in actress and producer Melissa McCarthy. Emmy and Golden Globe-winner McCarthy, best known for Bridesmaids, Spy and The Heat, has not spoken of her friendship with the royals before but the pair seemed to get on well and joked about matching tattoos, suggesting a close bond.
Melissa, who is starring in the upcoming film Thor: Love and Thunder, lives with husband Ben Falcone in California.
Makeup artist Daniel Martin (left) is believed to have known Meghan for over a decade, having met her while the former actress worked on Suits, and remained in contact with the Duchess throughout her life in the Royal Family. Right, Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy is also involved after helping Meghan announce the project in a video yesterday (pictured)
British fashion designer Stella McCartney designed the Duchess of Sussex’s stunning bridal gown for the evening reception of her 2018 wedding. Speaking at the time, Stella, 49, said she felt ‘very proud’. The designer, daughter of the Beatles’ Paul McCartney is known for her eco-friendly take on fashion.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Amanda Nguyễn, founder of US civil rights nonprofit organisation Rise, was among those personally chosen by Meghan to participate in the project.
Nguyễn shared a video of her opening the t-shirt sent by the Duchess along with a short post praising her ‘compassion’ on her birthday.
Meghan Markle’s fashion designer BFF Misha Nonoo revealed in February she is pregnant with a baby girl – weeks after the Duchess announced she was expecting.
The pair also welcomed their sons within months of each other, and Misha has spoken of how motherhood has brought them even closer together.
Misha’s first husband Alexander Gilkes went to school with Prince William and Prince Harry. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew to Rome for her wedding to Mike Hess in 2019.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Amanda Nguyễn, founder of US civil rights nonprofit organisation Rise (left). Right, Poet Amanda Gorman burst onto the global stage after delivering her address at President Biden’s inauguration in January
British charity boss Tessy Ojo has a longstanding relationship with the Duke of Sussex thanks to her role as Chief Executive of the Diana Award, which aims to foster and develop positive change in the lives of young people.
She shared a video announcing her participation in the 40×40 project yesterday.
Prior to joining the Diana Award, Tessy worked in the corporate sector for over 10 years. In January 2019, Tessy became the very first British National to be honoured with The Prestigious Martin Luther King Award in Atlanta, at an event marking the 90th Birthday of Martin Luther King.
Emmy Award-winning actress Sarah Paulson is best known for her roles in Ratched, American Horror Story and American Crime Story: The People v.s. OJ Simpson. The 46-year-old star described herself as the Duchess’s ‘friend’ in a post announcing her commitment to 40×40.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was an inspiration for Meghan long before she became the Duchess of Sussex, thanks to her bestselling book Lean In.
Meghan read the book while working on US legal drama Suits and credited it for helping to inform her character’s behaviour in the workplace. Now Meghan and Sheryl are more likely to cross paths at global events. Both women spoke at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in August last year.
Meghan Markle may be one of the most well known faces in the world, but that didn’t stop her from coming over all star struck when she sat down with activist Gloria Steinem for a conversation about women’s rights, representation, and the importance of voting last year.
The Duchess appeared overwhelmed with excitement at points during her ‘backyard chat’ with Gloria, which was filmed in July 2020 for Makers Women, a women’s empowerment platform.
Steinem was one of the most prominent figures of the Women Liberation’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, first met Meghan when she was working as an actress in Toronto.
The pair used to attend parties along with their mutual friend Jessica Mulroney, the stylist daughter-in-law of former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney.
Sophie, who was personally asked to be involved in the initiative, shared a message calling the Duchess a ‘long-standing ally of women and moms’. Social media photos show the pair pulling faces as they pose for snaps in a photo booth.
Actress and TV star Gabrielle Union was asked by the Duchess to take part in the initiative – and proudly showed off her branded ‘FORTY’ t-shirt on social media, alongside a message announcing her involvement.
Gabrielle, who called out the toxic culture on America’s Got Talent, has her own black haircare line and co-founded organic snack food company Bitsy’s. She is also a social media powerhouse with 18.5million Instagram followers. Her posts often feature her NBA legend husband Dwayne Wade and their family.
Friends in high places: Actress Gabrielle Union (left). Right, Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who first met Meghan when she was working as an actress in Toronto
Sophie, who was personally asked to be involved in the initiative, shared a message calling the Duchess a ‘long-standing ally of women and moms