In this edition of “From the Suits Files”, based on last month’s set visit, we get to know Sarah Rafferty – who you now met as Harvey’s assistant, Donna. Rafferty spent some time with us on the Suits set, and gave us some insight into her character.
Name: Sarah Rafferty
Character Assessment: Donna is Harvey Specter’s long-time assistant and probably knows him best. She’s fun and feminine, yet a force to be reckoned with!
On her character, Donna, and what attracted her to the role:
I was drawn to the whole script. [It] was amazing because I think the creator, Aaron [Korsh], really has this amazing ability to write these characters that, when you’re introduced to them, you … get who that person is. And Donna in particular, I was drawn to her because she’s so comfortable in her own skin and confident in her own position at the firm. She’s been with Harvey for 15, 16, 17 years; before Harvey was Harvey, she teamed up with him. She’s smart, she’s confident, she has a big heart. I think she operates really from a place of compassion and empathy. I think she has that for Mike, though she’s doesn’t necessarily want Mike to know that.
Another thing that really drew me to her – she’s a secretary, she’s very feminine, but she can be one of the boys [yet] still get to have all the fun of being a girl.
On being in a powerful position when it comes to her relationship with Harvey:
I think she’s in a powerful position because over the years, she’s become indispensable to him, in terms of all the technical aspects of his professional life and knowing exactly who to call at the courthouse. She takes care of all the relationships that make his life move smoothly.
On taking a more active role in some of Harvey’s and Mike’s cases:
Yes. There’s this associate mock trial competition, and Mike has to present as a lawyer. He goes up against his nemesis and Donna is his star witness. She gets to come in and perform, and she thinks she’s going to come in and hand him this case, that he can win it. She has this one line where he asks her if she’ll be his witness and she says, “Oh, you’re so cute, I’ve been fielding offers for months.” Like every year, everybody’s coming after me to ask me to play the traffic cop or the Russian mob boss. She does dis those other offers to help Mike out because she really is loyal to Mike – because she likes Mike as an individual, but really because that’s how she’s loyal to Harvey. He’s Harvey’s guy.
On what she’d like to see for Donna during this first season:
That is so hard, ‘cause I’m already so grateful for all that’s already there. I feel like the creator and the writers have set her up [so that] there’s so much room for her. So I’m just excited for the audience to maybe get a chance to understand what makes Donna tick and maybe see a little bit of the mask fall down, kinda see what’s going on underneath. Maybe a little peek into her personal life would be sort of fun, see what’s going on back there that makes her like this. Or more of an understanding of the history [between her and Harvey], like some of the stuff that they’ve been through together.
On her fabulous wardrobe and the transformational power of fishnets:
We had such an amazing costume designer, Christopher, on the pilot. He’d have some amazing piece that you’d never buy, and then he’d pair it with a Club Monaco accessory. He did that kind of great mix. [Donna] doesn’t have to dress like a lawyer, she doesn’t need to be ready for court, she doesn’t need that kind of thing. She’s not a woman trying to fit into a man’s world. She gets to dress in a fun way … and I think her clothes in the workplace environment can be a reflection of the fun that she wants to have, that she’s fun and feminine and confident. I think clothes are really important in that way. It is part of her power; it says, I’m a woman, I’m powerful and you will do what I say.
What was so interesting was that Christopher insisted that she wore fishnets. [I] don’t know hosiery, but he [had me] put them on and I was like, “Oh, I get it.” If she’s a girl who wears fishnets to the office in an elegant way, it just speaks to who she is … even when you can’t necessarily see it, you know it. It helps you feel like you’re not just you, in your sneakers hanging out. Helps you transform.
Photo Courtesy of USA Network