GINA Kousha lived her life anonymously until 2017, enjoying her job fulfilling kids' dreams by creating toys.
But Gina's life has been turned upside down by Suits actress Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, turning the American into a megastar.
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It also made Gina instantly famous – as she is a dead ringer for the pretty Duchess.
Everyday, Gina found herself being asked questions about the Royals, the Duke Of Sussex and her life as a princess wherever she went.
Some people fought over getting photos of the doppelganger, while others even curtsied.
And that interest from the public was global, with Gina being stopped, photographed and gawped at all over the world from Germany to Hong Kong.
Even mundane shopping trips to the local Trader Joes saw her mobbed by shoppers believing she was Markle.
Her husband Tim is even mistaken for a specialist Royal close protection officer.
Even her close friends say that the Duchess's natural body movements and face gestures mirror that of Gina. They have charmingly nicknamed the executive "Duchess" at work.
Today for the first time, Gina opens up on her extraordinary life being mistaken for Meghan.
Gina said: “Ever since their engagement was announced back in 2017, people have not stopped comparing me to Meghan. Resemblance comments and side-by-side pictures started and it’s been endless ever since.
"But when they married in 2018, oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how many text messages and phone calls I received. And the wedding was live, so I actually woke up here on the east coast, different time zone from the UK, obviously, and I woke up to a bazillion messages from friends and family all over.
"I have friends and family overseas in Turkey, in Germany, in the UK, in Hong Kong, and people who are literally just texting me saying: ‘Oh my gosh. This is you on TV.’
"Literally as she’s walking down the aisle, my phone was blowing up. As she exited the church, my phone’s blowing up, when she was waving to the crowd, it was just non-stop text messages.
"It got to the point where my mom, who lives in Virginia, even called me and said her friends, her Turkish friends, were calling her and saying, ‘This girl looks like your daughter.’ So it was a pretty crazy ride and it hasn’t stopped.”
A key aspect of Gina being mistaken for Meghan is the fact her body language mirrors that of the Royal.
Gina is a similar build to Meghan at 5’ 4” and just turned the same age 39.
"People who truly know me and even say that my mannerism and composure mirrors her identically. a lot of my friends and family, they say, ‘Wow, your composure, your mannerism, the way you carry yourself and the way that you speak, it’s such a resemblance of her.
"Okay, but even you look exactly like her, but even you talk, and you act, and you sit, and just the way you are is a mirror image of her.’
"Even before they got engaged, people would come up to me randomly and say, ‘You look like that girl on Suits.’
“I honestly don’t really have to practice it. It’s more so the way I talk and the way I am. It’s nothing that I’ve ever copied from her. This is just who I am.”
But the interest and mistaken identity has often seen her experience fame similar to that of an A -lister or British Royal when going about her ordinary life.
Gina, who as a creative executive in the toy business, confided: "We had an international toy fair in Germany around the time a rumor circulated that apparently that Meghan was in Germany.
"So at the show I was actually, I don’t want to say harassed, but cornered as I was walking. I remember I was turning a corner and somebody was like, ‘There she is,’ and I was like, ‘What?’
"And I turned around and somebody was like, ‘You look just like Meghan Markle’ and they thought from a distance that I was and when they came up to me and I started talking to them, they recognized, but it just sparked a bunch of people coming up to me and that wasn’t the first time.
"During a trip to a Hong Kong restaurant in a tight little alleyway with colleagues, groups of people were just staring at our table, just staring. And I didn’t recognize it until my friend said, ‘Why are these people staring at you?’
I honestly don’t really have to practice it. It’s more so the way I talk and the way I am. It’s nothing that I’ve ever copied from her. This is just who I am.
"So the guy finally gets up and he comes over and he’s from the UK and he’s like, ‘Excuse me, I’m sorry that we’re staring at you, but you look exactly like Meghan Markle and we just cannot stop staring.’
"It was a little embarrassing, I’m in the middle of talking with my colleagues, we’re semi talking about work and these guys are like, ‘Can we have a picture? It would mean a lot.’ Like, okay. So I took a picture with the group and came back, but I thought that was pretty funny.”
She continued: "In New York at another toy show last February, our presentation booth was getting a lot of traffic and people were stopping by, because they wanted to take a closer look at me.
"So those instances are really sporadic and funny and it catches me off guard, it really does, because I’m just going about my day and then you have somebody who just comes up to you suddenly and just kind of throws you for a loop.
“My colleagues work with another girl named Gina. A handful of my colleagues actually have me saved as: Gina Duchess of Sussex, or they have me saved as Princess Gina on their phone or in the directory, because they don’t want to confuse the two Gina’s.”
Gina added people are so fixated with Meghan, that even though they know she is not a Royal they still want photos.
“Even when I was at a wedding, I noticed people taking pictures of me and not the bride. It was awkward.”
Laughing she added: "I’ve had people curtsey out of pure fun, but that’s about it. Nothing too extreme, at least not yet."
Gina is grateful that her husband Tim is understanding of the constant attention.
"People always ask where Harry is.
"All the time and I don’t know if people are just saying that jokingly, but it’s just like, ‘Where’s your Harry?’, or my husband will be standing next to me and they’re like, ‘Oh, he doesn’t look like Harry.’ …ha yeah, he’s not, because I’m really not her.
"Every time somebody comes up, he just starts laughing and then kind of takes a step back, because he knows it’s going to turn into a five-minute conversation with a perfect stranger.
"So I always talk to the person and then I look back at him and he’s just shaking his head.
"When we’re at Trader Joe’s, I was sitting there trying to buy cheese and I got bombarded by a person and somebody else heard that person and it just turned into a crowd of people around me and I just remember looking back vividly at my husband, who’s just standing by the fruit and he’s holding a bag of apples. He’s looking at me like, ‘Can we please go now?’
"A lot of people think he could be the bodyguard as he is taller and has a good build.
"We know that’s not Harry, obviously, so that must be your bodyguard.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s my bodyguard/husband.’”
Gina is grateful Tim is patient: “It’s sometimes nice to be recognized by people, but sometimes it’s too much and my husband’s like, ‘Gina, enough already.’ “But he's absolutely a good sport.
He’s wonderful. He’s the best. He really is.”
Gina is a fan of Meghan believing she is a great role model, activist and mother.
“I think she’s a wonderful human being. I love the way she carries herself and how she speaks about women’s rights. She has great public speaking skills and that’s something that I also do have too, so it’s funny, there are a lot of similarities between her and I. But I do like her a lot, I do adore her, I think she is such a darling.”
Gina does see a similarity between her and the California based Royal.
"Being kind to others is something very important to me. There is way too much hatred in this world, and so if I can make someone smile my day is complete!
"Being mistaken for her is pretty fun and enjoyable feeling. I really don’t get bothered by it. But Meghan on the other hand, being an actual celebrity, I can imagine it probably gets a bit overwhelming for her."
Gina has shied away from cashing in on her lookalike status.
But in recent days, she did accept an offer from an agency, Tribute Productions, to represent her.
"It is a bit of fun. I love my job, but I don’t know where this would take me, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities that it takes me in."
She joked that a bonus is that she does not need to master an English accent.
"That makes it easier. I’m totally game for it. Absolutely.”
"I have never imagined myself as an actor, or performer.
"It’s an exciting opportunity, so why not embrace it? I’m all about new opportunities and taking risks and being open to challenges. I think it’s a great thing. If it turns into something big, I would totally embrace it. Absolutely.”
However the humble New Jersey based product development executive admits her first love will always be creating toys for kids.
"The joy of my job is not only making a product and seeing it come to market, but seeing the reactions of children who post it on social media, or their parents usually do, or write a letter to our company and say, ‘Your toy has changed my kid’s life. It educates them, it brings them joy.’ We’ve heard many different stories.
“Back when I was at Toys R’ Us, one of my big success stories, I make vehicles, I do radio control cars, so I did a line of fast vehicles for kids, it was a huge hit and this three-dimensional pop up play set for children, it’s never been done before in a small, 1/64th scale vehicle, so that was another success story. There was a lot. I must say, I have a lot.
"My resume is really my toys in the basement right now.”
We shared how Prince Harry is due to return to UK in 10 weeks for another Diana ceremony – and Meghan Markle may join him.
And Harry gushes Lilibet is ‘very chilled’ as he hangs out with Ed Sheeran after landing back in UK.
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