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Who Is Sarah Rafferty, the Actress Who Plays Donna on Suits? Everything to Know

As Donna Paulsen, Suits' Sarah Rafferty helped win a lot of cases — and she won herself a lot of fans, too.

By James Grebey
Sarah Rafferty appears in an episode of Suits

As Donna Paulsen, legal secretary par excellence on the USA Network legal drama Suits, actress Sarah Rafferty helped win a lot of cases — and she won herself a lot of fans, too.

Now that the series, which ran from 2011 to 2019, is enjoying a new renaissance on streaming this summer, it seems a fitting time to get to know the cast better. 

Where is Sarah Rafferty from?

Sarah Rafferty was born in New Canaan, Connecticut, on Dec. 6, 1972. She grew up in nearby Greenwich with her three older sisters and her parents, Mary Lee Rafferty and Michael Griffin Rafferty Jr. Her mother chairs the English department at a prestigious girls' prep school in the region while her father works in finance and does oil painting. Rafferty graduated from Hamilton College in central New York State in 1993 and received a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama after that. 

She married her husband, Aleksanteri Olli-Pekka Seppälä, in June 2001 and they have two daughters, Oona Gray and Iris Friday.

Sarah Rafferty outside of a fashion show

How did Sarah Rafferty start acting?

Rafferty started acting around the turn of the millennium with small one-off roles in TV shows like Law & Order (1999), Walker, Texas Ranger (2001), Six Feet Under (2003), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2004), and 8 Simple Rules (2004), among many others.

Her filmography throughout the ‘00s is full of credits like these: single appearances in fairly well-known shows. Her breakout role was, undoubtedly, Suits, as she appeared in all but two of the show’s 134 episodes across its nine-season run. 

RELATED: Why Did Patrick J. Adams Leave Suits Before the Final Season?

Who does Sarah Rafferty play in Suits?

In Suits, Rafferty played Donna Paulsen, Harvey Specter's legal secretary and close friend and ally. This is a little bit of art imitating life, as Rafferty and Gabriel Macht, who played Harvey on the show, have been real-life friends since 1993. Donna is regarded as the best legal secretary in the New York City law world (she'll be happy to tell you all about it), and she frequently helps Harvey and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) whenever they need her input or advice. Throughout the course of the series, Donna finds herself in legal trouble once or twice, and a lot of her storylines have to do with the romance (or is there?) between her and Harvey. 

Sarah Rafferty appears in an episode of Suits

Donna also becomes friends with Rachel Zane, played by Meghan Markle, and in real life the actresses became friends, too. Rafferty was one of the members of the Suits cast who attended Markle’s 2018 wedding to Prince Harry. 

RELATED: What Other Movies, Shows Has Suits Star (and Duchess of Sussex) Meghan Markle Been In?

What has Sarah Rafferty done since Suits?

Since Suits wrapped up in 2019, Rafferty has continued acting. She was in a three-episode arc of Grey’s Anatomy in 2020 playing a woman who develops mysterious symptoms following an appendectomy. She also played Dr. Pamela Blake, Division Chief of Transplantation Surgery at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center, in Season 7 of Chicago Med and the first episode of Season 8, as well.

Next up, Rafferty will star in the Netflix series My Life with the Walter Boys, an adaptation of Ali Novak's 2014 novel of the same name. Rafferty will play Dr. Katherine Walter, a mother to 10 sons living in rural Colorado who takes in a recently orphaned teenage girl from Manhattan.

Watch all nine seasons of Suits on Peacock.

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