Priyanka Chopra On Ambition, Feminism, & Fighting Against Stereotyped Hollywood Roles

Not only is Priyanka Chopra a household name in two major entertainment markets (Hollywood and Bollywood), she is also someone who has broken a number of barriers throughout her career. In 2013 she became the first woman of color to be the face of a Guess campaign which came at a time when conversations about diversity in the fashion and beauty industry were just ramping up.

The former Miss World winner also broke another major barrier in 2016 by becoming the first South Asian woman to win a People’s Choice Award, for Favorite Actress in a New TV series. Oh and by being chosen as the lead actress in ABC’s ‘Quantico, she also became the first South Asian actor to headline an American network series. No big deal, Priyanka knows what its like to be the outsider disrupting the norms.

As her global platform has grown, she has been consistent in the way she speaks out about issues she cares about, including feminism and diversity on screen. In a recent profile in Paper Magazine, she talks about ambition, which is often seen as a dirty word in reference to women, but there are so many high profile women reclaiming it as a positive.

“I’m extremely ambitious and I think it’s a really great quality for girls to have. Somehow, ambition and feminism have turned into bad words, and they’re not,” she said.

Clearly her ambition has paid off as it has meant certain barriers have been broken in the industry, especially for women of color. Paper Mag’s Claire Valentine points out how we’ve seen a wave of other South Asian actors such as Aziz Ansari and Kumail Nanjiani creating/writing their own TV shows and films. Let’s not forget Mindy Kaling who also created and starred in her own TV series, creating representation for women of color in a way that did not exist before. Priyanka says while there are certainly more opportunities for actors of color, there’s still a long way to go.

“Aziz Ansari and I were at the Boom Boom Room after the Met Gala [this year]. We were hanging out and looking at everyone, and he said to me, ‘You know Priyanka, I’ve been here so many times. Seven years ago there were only two South Asians, and today, there are seven.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know if that’s a lot, Aziz, that we’ve gone from two to seven in a room of 500.’ I’m laughing about it, but representation needs to be brought up in a big way,” she said.

Now that she is one of the most recognizable faces in the world, she wants to fight against being stereotyped in certain roles just because of her ethnicity.

“I fought to not be the stereotype of what is expected of an Indian girl. You should be proud of your ethnicity of course, but that cannot be the only reason [you’re cast],” she said.

“I’m glad I can be an example, because I never had someone that looked like me when I was growing up,” she added.

In another interview with Variety, she expands on this issue, saying there is still a need for better roles for actors of color.

“They’re still not being written for us as much as they should. I’m digging my feet in and saying I will not settle for parts which are less, especially as a woman of color. I want to be able to play mainstream parts without the need in the storyline to describe why an Indian is playing an American…Diversity needs to be normal, it should not be a novelty. It should not be the conversation,” she said.

Something else she wants to escape from is being known only for her appearance given that she is a former model and beauty queen. Yet her impressive body of work is what she prefers people to know about.

“I want to be spoken about for my work and not my relationships, and that tends to happen with actresses and with girls. We become more spoken about for our relationships than the job that we do. I don’t want that…I let my work prove that I’m not just a pretty face, or I’m not just a girl with big dreams and the patronizing tone that comes with that,” she said.

Priyanka says this is important whether she is “bring a producer in a man’s world” or “having an opinion on the world”.

“You have to be fearless even if you’re told that you’re just a girl. It is hard for women. We have to work four times more to prove the same point. There are an amazing amount of women doing it who are examples for people in my generation to follow. I hope I will be that going forward for others,” she said.

As for feminism, an issue she regularly gets asked about and which she has no problem talking about, Priyanka explains why it’s a no-brainer for her.

“I see so many girlfriends of mine who are like, ‘No I’m not that much of a feminist.’ I don’t even understand that. The need for feminism was created because there were no rights for women. That’s why there is not a man-ism, because they always had it…Feminism is not about berating or hating men or disliking or trying to make sure we’re better than men. Feminism is just saying give me opportunities without judging me for the decisions that I make, the same freedom that men have enjoyed for so many centuries,” she said.

Because her dad raised her to be fearless about sharing her opinions and raising her voice, Priyanka says feminism needs men to understand the role they can play in helping the women in their lives be empowered in the same way.

“It needs the men in their lives to stand up for their mothers, their sisters, their girlfriends, their wives, their daughters and say that I’m going to change the game for my future generation.”

We’re certainly thankful for role models like Priyanka and hope she continues to break barriers and push for more representation in the industry.

 

 

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  1. Pingback: Priyanka Chopra On Ambition, Feminism, & Fighting Against Stereotyped Hollywood Roles – My Best Stars.com

  2. Pingback: Actress Constance Wu Writes Op-Ed Tackling Media Impact On Race & Body Image - GirlTalkHQ

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