Priyanka Chopra has been taking the West by storm over the last year. One of the highest-paid actresses in the world and the first South Asian woman to headline an American TV show, Priyanka is now preparing for her ‘villainous’ Hollywood debut with Baywatch. Her part in the film was initially written for a male actor, but the director changed the character as he thought she would play the role of a villain “better”. Excerpts from an interview with HT Café.
You’ve joined a select group of global influencers on LinkedIn… How do you feel about that?
I’m honoured to have been invited to be part of a distinguished group of global influencers. As a budding entrepreneur, I’m looking forward to connecting with the vibrant community of professionals on the network and exchanging thoughts and ideas.
How do you feel about being featured on the lists of ‘influencers’ or most ‘powerful women’?
It gives me a sense of achievement to know that I am counted among the elite across the globe. I don’t feel any added pressure or responsibility because I’ve been added to these lists. For me it’s more of a sign that I am on the right path on my individual journey.
You are now an international star from India. Has that feeling sunk in yet?
Thank you for saying that. You’re right; maybe it has still not sunk in, and sometimes I believe there is a lot more for me to do. I never take my work for granted. I’m blessed that a girl like me from a small town was given an opportunity to dream a dream and achieve it.
From being a naïve 17-year old girl from Bareilly to becoming the first South Asian woman to headline an American show, and now winning over Hollywood… That’s quite a journey.
My life has been a battle, but I make sure it looks like a fairy tale. Every success story has an armour with bullet marks, bruises and dents. You have to hold on to your integrity, values, and be honourable in everything you say and do. They say that the fruit of labour is sweet, and I absolutely believe that.
As you work extensively in the West, do you feel you are missing out on work in India?
By nature, I’m not an insecure person, and I also believe no work is too small for me. There are only small actors and I’m definitely not one of them. I’m just an artiste who goes where my work takes me. I strongly believe that art cannot be dictated by borders. I’m assessing projects in India and in America. I will make an announcement soon.
Rumours are rife about ‘cat fights’ between you and Deepika Padukone…
Why are women always reduced to cat fights? We all have so much more to do than to waste time on ‘cat fights’. We all have our own chosen paths. As far as I’m concerned, they are — as you put it — rumours.
You recently said that it’s been a ‘huge struggle for you to be able to come into mainstream entertainment in America and actually break the mould of what a Bollywood actor should be’…
I think people still get surprised when they see someone like me, who knows her job, walk on a TV set, film set or awards show. They get surprised with what they see and experience, so I think there is still a lot to be done to break those stereotypes. But I intend to take personal measures in making sure that there is a global representation of Indian talent. We have tremendous talent (in India) and it is high time we get represented in mainstream global pop culture more often than we do right now.
Your mother (Dr Madhu Chopra) has said in an interview that before moving to the US for work, you were scared and apprehensive. Do you still feel the same way?
When you try something new, it’s always scary. However, over the past year and a half, the love and support I’ve received, not just in the US but globally, have allayed those fears. My work has been appreciated. It’s far beyond what I expected in such a short span of time. Of course, it’s very scary to be in a country where you are away from friends and family and be all alone, but I’m very grateful for the reception I’ve received.
Is it true that you are going to sign your next Bollywood film in December, when you come to India?
I don’t like to talk about projects until I sign them. It’s unfair to all those who are involved. All I can say is that I’m blown away by the films I’ve been offered. I will announce the details of my next film shortly.
Lastly, when are you back in India?
I’m back in December for some time and will return to the US, early next year to finish the shoot of season 2 of Quantico. I will continue to go back and forth depending on the requirements of my projects.
Shraddha Kapoor and Deepika recently said that you have inspired them (Deepika said that she was in school when you won the Miss World title, and she has known you for many years).
It’s sweet of Shraddha and Deepika to say that. It’s nice of my colleagues to be so encouraging of my work. It feels great to receive support from my (Bollywood) film industry. It’s also such a funny coincidence that I was in school too when I won Miss World (laughs).