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Priyanka Chopra: It's really hard to break into mainstream global entertainment

In her latest interview with Hello! magazine, the Baywatch actress said that people don't understand how hard it is to go into another country and break concrete.

Photo: Hello! Magazine Photoshoot

Our Correspondent

Actress Priyanka Chopra's rise on the world stage with Quantico, and Baywatch is unquestionable, but the journey has not been easy. In her latest interview with Hello! magazine, Chopra emphasised that her success rests on her ability to approach every film as a simple actor. "I have no problem walking into a room and saying 'I'm Priyanka Chopra and I'm an Indian actor." 

Chopra explained that while her name might make headlines in India, Hollywood is a different matter. She said, "I may be at some position in India, but I'm smart enough to know that I'm new in this country." Her success in the hit American television series, Quantico, led to her debut on the big screen, alongside Dwayne Johnson, in Baywatch earlier this year. 

When asked if Baywatch was the wrong film to make her Hollywood debut with, Chopra said, "South Asian actors have such limited opportunities in global entertainment. And that is because there is a stereotype about us where we can only play specific parts and I've seen that happen to me on so many levels. Like in India, someone or the other was recommended and I would be told I didn't get the part or if I didn't compromise on my time, schedule or salary, a new girl would be cast. And here they say, 'may be you could try to be a little more ethnic?' So it's really hard to break through into mainstream global entertainment. In Baywatch, you don't even know where she's from. She's just an interesting character and I want to be able to do that."

As for her own journey in the world of cinema, Chopra said it had been a struggle. "I really find it funny when I'm asked by the Indian media about my first film. It makes me laugh because I don't think people have an understanding of how hard it is to go into another country and break concrete," the actress noted.

In a detailed interview, Chopra also spoke about using her prominence on the world stage to promote the causes close to her heart. She said, "It's important for influencers and people like us to have an opinion and steer the conversation in the right direction."

The actress also spoke about the explosion of sexual abuse revelations in Hollywood. With high profile names like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis CK finding themselves blacklisted, there is a growing clamour among female artists to make a stand, However, Chopra maintained that women had always faced oppression in the film industry.

She said, "There is this oppression that women have felt by powerful men. We are reading about it because people write about the entertainment industry a lot more."

The Quantico actress, however, was impressed by the fact that there was more conversation about it. She said, "A few decades ago, people would have been like 'you shouldn't talk about it', and 'or don't say anything'. That's the way most of us have dealt with powerful men abusing their powers."

In October earlier this year, the international magazine, Marie Claire had quoted Chopra as saying that the practice of sexual abuse was 'not about sex, it is about power. About putting a woman in her lane’.

While the discussion about similar cases in India have risen, it has not resulted in any massive backlash like in Hollywood. Chopra marked this down to 'conditioning'. She said, "We're a little more conditioned. It's extremely hard to break mindsets." 

The actress, who was appointed Global Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations, spent a major part of the year travelling through India, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Syria and Iraq meeting abused and refugee children in different parts of the world. The actress revealed that her experiences had only confirmed her belief about the secondary treatment of girls across these regions. 

She said, "It was just so hard to convince people even for simple things like letting the girls continue their education after 13 or 14 years of age, and not to get them married. So it's the mindset that's so deeply stuck that it'll take a really long time." 

Chopra is currently shooting for the third season of Quantico in New York. The actress also has two Hollywood films, A Kid Like Jake and Isn't It Romantic?, in the pipeline.