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Director Misan Harriman 'Proud' to Have Meghan Markle's Support of New Film: 'Her Taste Is Impeccable' (Exclusive)

The Duchess of Sussex helped promote her photographer friend's Oscar-nominated short film 'The After'

<p>Dave Benett/Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett/Getty; Kevin Mazur/Getty</p> Misan Harriman in 2023, Meghan Markle in 2023

Dave Benett/Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett/Getty; Kevin Mazur/Getty

Misan Harriman in 2023, Meghan Markle in 2023

Among the fans of Misan Harriman’s newly Academy Award-nominated film is a special friend: Meghan Markle.

“She is really as a sister to me,” the Nigeria-born filmmaker-photographer tells PEOPLE when asked what the Duchess of Sussex's support means to him.

“I mean, her taste is impeccable,” he adds. “She is someone that looks for great depth of meaning and intention in what she engages in. And I believe she felt that in this film.”

The After, an 18-minute short on Netflix starring David Oyelowo and co-written by John Julius Schwabach, marks the directorial debut of Harriman, 46, previously known for his celebrity portraiture. The film, which explores an ordinary man’s devastating grief, is nominated for Best Live-Action Short at the upcoming 96th Oscars ceremony.

Related: 2024 Oscar Nominations: Barbie, Oppenheimer and American Fiction Among Nominees — See the Full List

<p>Emma McIntyre/Getty</p> (Left-right:) David Oyelowo, Misan Harriman and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex in 2023

Emma McIntyre/Getty

(Left-right:) David Oyelowo, Misan Harriman and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex in 2023

Meghan, 42, hosted a special screening and moderated a talkback with Harriman and Oyelowo on Nov. 15 at a private residence in Montecito, California, where the Duchess of Sussex lives with her husband Prince Harry and their two children, 4-year-old son Prince Archie and 2-year-old daughter Princess Lilibet. In a December Instagram post about the event, Harriman wrote that it was "extra special" to have Meghan and "so many of my film idols watch this film."

Meghan also made a surprise video appearance to introduce Harriman before his TED Talk, "The Power of an Image — and the Mind behind It," in April of last year.

“To have her recognize this work,” he tells PEOPLE, “is just something I'm really proud of. And I'm deeply thankful as well… little old me trying to get into this world that she knows so well.”

Related: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Share Unseen Photo from Canada Visit: 'It Filled Our Hearts' (Exclusive)

Harriman’s celebrity clientele as a longtime photographer includes Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie. As he acknowledges to PEOPLE, he’s also become Meghan and Harry’s go-to portrait taker

From the couple's 2021 pregnancy announcement to Lilibet's first birthday photo in 2022 to their appearance at the One Young World Summit, “I've been very lucky to photograph many special moments with her and her husband and her family,” he says.

“My images of them do all the talking,” explains Harriman, who has also appeared in the Harry & Meghan docuseries. “Portraiture for me, whether it is royalty or whether I'm in the tip of the spear in any of the civil rights movements that I care deeply about, is looking for truth. That's fundamentally what my lens is there, to capture the human condition in full fidelity.”

He continues: “Whether it's beautiful children and the great love and fortitude of this couple, or whether it is when the world decided to refuse to look away from what happened to George Floyd, whether it's climate action, the gay and trans community is hugely important for me — my lens is always at their disposal, always will be.”

Related: Celeb Photographer Misan Harriman Says He Still 'Can't Process' His First Oscar Nomination (Exclusive)

Aaron Chown/PA Images;Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Ms. Foundation for Women Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Misan Harriman
Aaron Chown/PA Images;Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Ms. Foundation for Women Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Misan Harriman

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In addition to her friendship with Harriman, Meghan also shares a special connection with Oyelowo, 47. In September, she and her husband’s Archewell Foundation announced the donation of school supplies and menstrual products to young women in Nigeria in partnership with The GEANCO Foundation. The organization’s David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship provides full tuition, medical care and emotional support to young female victims of terrorism and gender inequality in Nigeria.

The After is streaming now on Netflix. 

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