Priyanka Chopra never ceases to amaze her fans and bewilder her haters. She has made the country proud by not only is her big ticket to the west but also by becoming the first Indian woman to be cast in the lead role on an American TV series. The series titled Quantico is produced by ABC studios.
Priyanka Chopra or Piggy Chops as we love to call her, has many feathers in the ,multiple hats she juggles. And my-my she wears each hat with elan. She’s a Miss World. She’s a National Award winning actress (that’s equivalent to an Oscars in the West). At only 33, she has a already acted in 40 Bollywood films and hosted the Indian version of fer factor. She’s a pop star with several single hits to her glory and every fiber of her being screams, ‘I am a diva!’
She’s not only one of the country’s A-listers and highest-paid actresses. One of the most prolific actresses in Bollywood, Priyanka Chopra is indeed destiny’s child.
Priyanka, crossed borders with the shinning armor of her talent to portray an FBI trainee-turned-possible terrorist Alex Parrish on Quantico. For Chopra, who has stood out from all her contemporaries, becoming a household name is not on her mind so much that wanting a challenging part is. “I never thought of my roles as a step to anywhere,” she says. “It’s not about furthering my career — it’s a way of life,” she opines.
Read the excerpts of this free-wheeling conversation and catch PC talk about her latest project Quantico.
Q: Before talk about Quantico, I’d like you to talk about your career in India. You only got into acting after you were crowned Miss World in 2000. Would like to relive that experience?
PRIYANKA CHOPRA: When I won Miss World, I wasn’t even 18. All I remember is that I thought of it as a day in the races or something. It didn’t feel like it was Miss World of the Millennium Year, the change of the century. I didn’t understand the magnitude of it for at least a couple of years to follow. See, a couple of months before that, I was another teen in 12th grade, in a school uniform. From that I took to modeling with the biggest designers and experienced what traveling the world was like and sitting in front of world press talking about the economy of Zimbabwe, and I was like, what am I talking about?
I’m sure you know you’re the first Bollywood actress to lead an American TV show. Has the magnitude of that fact hit you? Do you feel the same way now?
[Pauses] I don’t know if I see the magnitude of it as much as other people around me do. I hear a lot of people telling me that it’s the first time it’s happened for an Indian person.
Right, including me with this question, being like, “Are you feeling it?”
[Laughs] No, but it’s true. For me, there was never going to be any other way to make an international foray. I was very clear about it. If I wasn’t doing this in America, I would have done it in Australia, or anywhere. Coming to American TV is just an extension of what I want to do. This is my step forward in trying to do something new. I don’t know, I’m excited about it. It’s a new world for me altogether. It’s a new culture for me. Also, I want to be true to who I am. I think that’s the difference between doing Miss World then and doing this now. At that time, I felt like I was a kid, and I needed to be what the world wanted to see me as, but now I feel like my flaws are what make me unique. Blame the 30’s. They did that to me. [Laughs]
Personally, I remember when I was in Mumbai and I had just become Miss India [World] and I was just starting to work in movies. There was a place in Mumbai called Chowpatty Beach, where there are like six holdings [another word for billboards] back-to-back, where they advertise big movies and big things. I had just come into Mumbai and me and my best friend had just moved in. One night, we were just walking on the beach, and I remember we sat outside, and we looked up at it, and I had just started doing movies at that time. I was like, “One day, I want to be on all of them.” And I was, five years later. I had my movies on each one of them. [Mimes pointing to each billboard] One, two, three, four, five, six. So it feels sort of like a beginning in a way.
Obviusly, this isn’t the first time you’ve been stateside, of course. You launched a music career here a few years ago and you went to high school for a few years in New York.What has it been like so far, then, shooting your first American TV show?
It’s totally new! I had to actually work on my dialect a lot for the show, and plus, with all the action sequences, I had to put in a lot of training. [Jokes] I’m on the run, so they literally have me running! No, I’m kidding, I love my job. The music was new for me, it’s not something I always did, but acting is something I’ve always done. It’s in my blood. It’s what I know. I’ve done it since I was 17 years old.
Tell me about how you got involved with Quantico.
I had a holding deal with ABC, to find me a show, and I was very clear about the kind of show I wanted to do, because Indian people have always been seen as, well, we’ve been put in a box, about who we should be like. There’s nothing wrong with [who we are] — both my parents were doctors, and I wanted to be an engineer, but that’s how we’re seen.
So I wanted to sort of break that box, and I was very sure that whatever part I do, what I said to ABC when they came to me in India to talk to me about the deal, was that if that’s something you’re willing to see me as, as an actor and not the color of my skin or the way I speak or the accent with which I speak, if that can happen, I’m fine doing the deal. ABC was sure they would find the right fit for me, and I think Quantico is. It’s me as an actor. [Alex] wasn’t written for someone with my ethnicity, but I am Indian in the show, so I’ve been rooted with my culture in the show, but that’s not what the show is about.
Speaking of Alex, tell me more about your character. What’s special about her?
They’ve written Alex as a female Jason Bourne. She’s as smart as that, but she is also vulnerable and soft. I didn’t want to make Alex extremely macho, I wanted to celebrate femininity. You can be an absolute woman and also be smart and tough and not lose your femininity. I also love that in the show, Alex treats boys the way boys usually treat girls, as dispensable. She has no place for them in her life.
Were there other shows you considered that ABC offered?
I read 26 scripts, almost every pilot they were planning, and I made a top few list that I liked. Quantico was my first choice. Actually I mean,The Muppets was my favorite, but I was told Miss Piggy won’t allow anyone else on her show. [Laughs]
You mentioned you wanted to break the stereotype box in this role. How do you see your casting fitting into the larger conversation about diversity on American TV?
You know, I’m very curious to find out, because there’s no reference to say if it’s going to turn out well. It hasn’t happened before. I’m really looking forward to finding out. Is America ready for it? Are we ready for it? Is India ready for it? [Pauses] Am I ready for it? [Laughs] I have no idea, but I think for me, my Indian movies have never been stepping stones. I love what I do, I’m going to divide my time between my Indian movies, whatever work I get and my show and fly across the world wherever work takes me. That’s how I’ve always treated it.
I really see this as an opportunity. When I grew up I never saw anyone looking like me on TV, you know? I’m so glad to see a lot more of us on television, whether it’s Mindy Kaling or it’s Irrfan Khan or Freida Pinto. You know, I hope, like, little girls across the world can just look at me and say, “Ah, I want to be that!” Indian or not, it shouldn’t matter. It’s really cool to see how that will open up.
We’re still a few weeks away from the premiere. How are you feeling right now? Where’s your head at?
I’m very nervous. I just want to sleep on the 27th of September, I want to be woken up on Tuesday morning, two days later, so I don’t have to go through the process of, “Oh my God, it’s going to air,” and “Oh my God, it’s this scene,” and “Oh my God, what are people saying?” I just want to sleep through it. I’m definitely not going to be watching. [Laughs]
Quantico premieres Sunday, Sept. 27 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.
Source : EW