Mom-of-two Akeisha Land runs an Instagram account dedicated to her adorable daughter Greyson. And followers are often treated to pictures of her children and other precious family snaps. But when Land posted a mommy-daughter selfie, people couldn’t believe how much she looked like Meghan Markle.
Land, who is lives in Kansas City, Missouri, is married to husband Preston and together they have two young children: Tristan and Greyson. As we mentioned, the proud mom also manages an Instagram account where she mostly shows off her beautiful kids and their strong outfit game.
By all appearances, Land is much like any other mom in America, and she lives a fairly ordinary life caring for her two young kids. She told Today in January 2020, “I’m just a normal mama from Missouri.”
Interestingly, Land insists that she doesn’t see the likeness between herself and the Duchess of Sussex. So the mom-of-two may not have expected the reaction that came after she posted a picture of herself on her daughter’s Instagram account that same month.
It’s entirely reasonable for a family member, for instance, to bear a resemblance to another. It is, however, obviously more unusual for someone completely unrelated to look so much like somebody else. But it’s not impossible, and there’s even a term for it: the German word doppelgänger.
Markle’s mom, Doria Ragland, looked just like the duchess herself when the latter was a similar age. And when an old picture emerged in 2018 of a baby Markle bouncing on her mother’s lap, many noted the similarities between the two.
Ragland, for her part, used to work as a social worker and yoga instructor. And in later years, her daughter Markle talked fondly of her memories of joining her mom on trips to poorer parts of the U.S. when she was younger. But there were issues closer to home for the duchess and her family.
Markle’s family lived a modest lifestyle; nevertheless, her parents managed to send her to a private school when they were living in Hollywood. But the family also suffered racist abuse during those years due to the fact that Markle’s father is Dutch-Irish and her mother is African-American.
And in 2015 Markle wrote in Elle Magazine about some of the difficulties that she faced then and still has to deal with even today as a mixed-race woman. She said that many people saw her as Caucasian, and some would question whether Ragland was her real mother when she was younger.
Markle wrote, “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating. While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that.”
Markle continued, “[I have] to say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.” Nevertheless, the road wasn’t always an easy one; some people didn’t seem able to accept that the future actress’ mom simply had a different skin tone to her daughter.
In another interview, Markle described that her mom was sometimes incorrectly identified as the family’s nanny. According to The Sun, she said, “I was home in Los Angeles on a college break when my mom was called the ‘N’ word. We were leaving a concert and she wasn’t pulling out of a parking space quickly enough for another driver.”
Markle’s parent’s divorced when she was six years old. Nevertheless, the duchess built a resilience to the difficulties and upsets of her upbringing. She, of course, went on to become a successful TV actress – most notably in legal drama Suits. And when she became the wife to Prince Harry, she also became a style icon, too.
Nearly two billion people worldwide watched Markle walk down the aisle in May 2018. And Ragland was the only family member on Markle’s side present. The bride wore a classy Givenchy dress that, despite its simplicity, featured hidden details not obvious on first glance, but which held significance to her new family.
Markle’s veil was embroidered with 53 flowers – each representing every member state in the Commonwealth of Nations. The subtle touch was in recognition of her husband’s work as the association’s Youth Ambassador. He apparently hadn’t known about Markle’s gesture until their wedding day and was thrilled when he found out.
And Markle didn’t just become the Duchess of Sussex that day, she also became a huge style icon. However, it’s not just the fashion magazines which have been obsessed with what Markle has worn during her public engagements.
Markle’s style is not only popular, it’s also a look that’s accessible to the general public. So, for example, when the duchess was pictured wearing a blouse from British high street fashion retailer Topshop in March 2020, fans rushed to snap up the garment themselves.
Elsewhere, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced in January 2020 that they would be stepping away from their royal duties. But the news doesn’t seem to have affected the interest in Markle’s wardrobe. Moreover, there are other options should the former actress not be available for engagements.
And for a handful of women, Markle’s rise to prominence initiated a sudden and unexpected change in their own lives. You see, since the former actress became Prince Harry’s future bride, lookalike agencies have been snapping up women who look just like her. Indeed, one firm handles around 20 Markle clones, according to U.K. newspaper The Sun.
Take Danielle Bourne, for instance. The Markle doppelgänger was a single mom when she signed up with a lookalike agency right before the royal wedding. And her new career couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Briton had just been made redundant as an admin worker for a hairdressing company.
Bourne told The Sun in May 2018, “Like [Markle], I’m mixed-race. My dad is from Barbados and my mum is British and friends tell me they are now really jealous of my skin and [Markle] glow.” So when did people start noticing her resemblance to the duchess?
“When [Markle] and [Prince Harry] started dating, my friends and family initially told me we looked alike,” Bourne recalled. “I think it’s my nose, which is the same shape, and my skin tone which makes us look similar.” Furthermore, Markle lookalikes stand to earn a pretty penny for their work.
In 2018 Markle clones were raking in around $485 for just a few hours of their time and a day-long engagement could see them earn nearly $2,500. And Sarah Mhlanga, who claimed to The Sun that she is the U.K.’s leading Markle lookalike, even thought about ditching her day job due to the amount of clone work she was getting in the run-up to the wedding.
Mhlanga told The Mail on Sunday in January 2020, “In the run-up to the royal wedding I was doing one or two [Markle] bookings a week… [But] it went quiet after that and you are waiting for the next milestone to put them back into the limelight. It’s not really a way to spend your life.”
And given mom-of-two Akeisha Land’s resemblance to the duchess, a Markle lookalike was a career step she has apparently considered taking herself. She told MailOnline, “I always joke and say I need to have someone reach out to her people to let them know that 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.”
As we mentioned earlier, interest in Land increased in January 2020 when she posted an image of herself on Instagram. It was a rare move from the mother – who typically prefers to focus on her kids. But when she did so, many of her followers on the social media platform had to do a double-take.
Land, however, hadn’t been ready for the attention. She told E! News in January 2020, “It’s been crazy. The outpouring of comments that have been coming in just off a photo I posted of me and Greyson… Literally every comment is about me. Normally it’s like, ‘Oh, she’s so cute,’ and that sort of thing but it’s all about me this time. It’s very different! I’m not used to being in the forefront. I’m used to it being about my kids. It’s overwhelming.”
Comments on the Instagram post ranged from, “[Oh my God] I thought you were Meghan Markle for a sec – so cute,” to, “Even I had to sit here and say to myself… ‘ain’t that Meghan?’” And another follower believed that Land and the duchess could be cousins. The mom-of-two, however, was already aware of a likeness.
Land explained to Today in January 2020 what life can be like resembling Markle. She said, “I often have people come up to me, even people that know me, and say, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like …’ and because I’ve heard it so much over the past couple of years it always makes me laugh, because I know who they’re going to say before they even finish their sentence.”
Nevertheless, the Markle comparison is lost on Land. The mom continued, “What’s so funny to me is that I honestly don’t even see the resemblance! But I certainly take it as a compliment because she’s so beautiful.” However, what many don’t know is that there’s actually a scientific reason why people have their own doppelgängers.
Now, because you share the same genes, it’s likely you could share very similar features with your siblings or parents. But you may be surprised that genes vary very little from one human to the next. And it’s something that Cornel University assistant professor of neurobiology and behaviour Michael Sheehan has studied.
Sheehan’s research concluded that the need for everyone to look different is important to the “individuality” of the human species, according to Canadian news website Global News. For instance, when you’re out in a crowd, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll spot someone who looks just like you. Go to the zoo, however, and it’s not so easy to tell one chimp or penguin from another.
“Humans are really phenomenally diverse, but you don’t see that in other species,” Sheehan told Global News in 2015. So how do random people end up looking so much alike when they’re not related? How would he explain Land’s uncanny similarities to Meghan, for instance?
“It’s like a Rubik’s Cube – you can get a lot of variation,” Sheehan told Global News. “There’s sort of a numbers game to it.” That’s to say that, although there’s room for many combinations that give us our differences, those possibilities aren’t endless. There’s a good chance, then, that of the nearly eight billion people on the planet, there’s at least one with a similar combination to yours.
The chances of that person being completely identical to you, however, are a lot smaller. Indeed, while the initial similarities might be striking, take a closer look and you will find some differences, no matter how subtle. Moreover, there’s an explanation as to why, for example, Land doesn’t see what everyone else does.
Apparently, our perception of ourselves is completely different to somebody else’s. Whereas we see our own faces more or less every day, others see us less frequently. We, therefore, know our faces inside out, but others take in only our more distinctive features.
So, when our friends and relatives see someone who they suppose looks like us, it’s obviously down to having similar-looking features. But because we know our own faces a lot better, our eyes skip over those similarities and are more in tune with the details which separate us from our supposed doppelgängers.
Land was nevertheless baffled by the sudden interest in her face. She told Today, “It’s so crazy to me to see my face all over the place just because people think I look like [Markle]. And I’m usually very much ‘behind the scenes’ and like it that way.”
Even so, the comparisons don’t stop on Instagram. As Land described to MailOnline, “I get compared to her quite often, and not just online. Out and about, whether at church, [the] movie theater, or at the grocery store…” And the mom-of-two said that it happens more frequently since she had straightened her hair.
Though Land’s family paid little attention to the Sussexes in the past, it hasn’t stopped them teasing her about it. She told Today, “My kiddos have no clue who any of the royals are. They were calling me ‘duchess’ yesterday, though, because my hubby told them to. So that was pretty hilarious.”