26 years after first coming to America, actress Priyanka Chopra is opening up about the racism that greeted her in the U.S. as a young child.
She was just 12 when she first arrived.
“I didn’t even understand race and the differences of that when I first came into America. The only thing she could hurt me with, which I couldn’t change, is the color of my skin, right? She used to call me curry. She used to call me brownie. She said go back to your country on the elephant you came on,” she told Project Nightfall.
“I had very low self esteem. I was gawky as a teenager. I lived in America. I was made to feel conscious about. The fact that I was an Indian. I was very confused about who I was and what I was supposed to be.”
She returned to India at the age of 15 and dedicated herself to building her confidence. At the age of 18 she became Miss World and her confidence soared.
“Confidence was something I taught myself over the years. I started to become OK with who I am. I became the best version of me.
“The fact that my personality and the way I speak, and my confidence is what won me that crown, made me feel like confidence is your best accessory. There is nothing else you need. The only thing you need to wear well is your confidence.”
She would go on to become India’s highest paid actress actress in 2012. Several years later, she would sign a talent deal with ABC and in 2015, won the role as the star of Quantico, an action thriller that aired three seasons until 2018 on the network.
When she got to Hollywood, she says the racism she had encountered earlier in life gave way to sexism.
“A producer or director telling me if I didn’t agree to the ridiculous terms or painfully low salary in his movie, he would just replace me because girls are replaceable in the entertainment business. It made me decide to make myself irreplaceable.”
This weekend, Chopra released the cover of her new memoir, Unfinished. She shared it on Instagram.
“You’ll definitely learn about how I became me during the “in between” of what you haven’t seen, I also hope you’ll walk away with the confidence of knowing that IT’S OK to pick up, walk away, leave things unfinished, and move on to what’s next if that’s what your journey requires to get to the next destination,” she wrote. “We all have a different story to tell, this is my story, and I am #Unfinished.”
As with so many Asians, Priyanka credits her parents with much of the successes in her life, saying they taught her to have the “courage of conviction.”
“What I learned during this process is that I have never shied away from change, or forced guilt on myself for leaving something unfinished if that’s what my evolution as an individual required.”
She ended her interview with Project Nightfall with these words.
“Confidence is truly the key to getting ahead in life. If you believe in yourself, the world will believe in you. Everyone else deserves to say, I am confident.”
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