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Priyanka Chopra kickstarts TIFF with a conversation on opportunity and cinema

The actress headlined the Toronto International Film Festival Soirée as part of an opening event to celebrate female filmmakers and spoke to artistic director Cameron Bailey about her journey in Hindi cinema and Hollywood.

From Instagram

Sonal Pandya

Producer-actress Priyanka Chopra was the guest of honour at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Soirée on 6 September, a day before the festival began. The annual international festival, in its 42nd year, has a five-year goal to prioritise gender parity in the industry with its fundraising gala. Titled ‘Share Her Journey’, the movement has signed on filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Deepa Mehta, Carol Nguyen, Omoni Oboli and Ann Marie Fleming as the ambassadors.

Priyanka's latest production, Pahuna: The Little Visitors, directed by Paakhi A Tyrewala, is due to make its world premiere at the festival on 7 September.

Here’s what to expect from India at this year’s TIFF 2017

But first, the actress, who is attending the festival with her mother and Pahuna co-producer, Madhu Chopra, walked the busy red carpet in a simple by but stunning black Zaid Affas gown. When asked about what advice she would give other female filmmakers, Priyanka replied, “It’s not easy. When you come into entertainment being a woman, you’ve got to pull your socks up for a fight and be ready for it, because no one’s going to hand it out to you.”

She later sat down and spoke to artistic director Cameron Bailey about her life-changing journey in Hindi cinema and on American network television.

Priyanka talked about holding her ground when she was able to star in ABC’s Quantico as the lead. “I read 26 scripts and they found me a show which had nothing to do with my ethnicity. Yes, I play an Indian girl, but that just happens to be part of a story. And that was important to me. When I went to school in America, when I was about 13 to about 16, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me on television. I still don’t see that many people who like me on television or movies, for that matter,” she told Bailey.

She also discussed her landmark films in Hindi cinema from Fashion (2008) to Mary Kom (2014). Chopra said Fashion “gave women the power to talk about the different facets of their lives,” while Mary Kom excited her because it was “a challenging movie”.

It hasn’t always been roses for Priyanka on her rise to the top. The actress, who is a part of the Hollywood films, A Kid Like Jake (2018) and Isn’t It Romantic (2019), revealed she was asked not to be part of a cast because she was too ethnic. “I didn't realize how hard it was until I came to North America,” she said.

After the conversation, she posed with Bailey and posted the photo on Instagram, with the caption, “You really pulled everything out of me tonight, @cameronpbailey! Thank you for asking me to share my journey tonight, and for shining a spotlight on women in entertainment #TIFF17 #ShareHerJourney”

Seems like it was truly a magical night for Priyanka.

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