These days, Priyanka Chopra is definitely a household name, but she’s more than comfortable with such superstar status. Since winning the Miss World pageant in 2000, she’s become something akin to a cross between a secretary of state and Beyoncé. But neither that, nor her breakthrough success in America has changed Chopra’s gracious, down-to-earth personality, or her commitment to advocating for representation and diversity on and off-screen.
If you don’t know her from her starring role in ABC’s Quantico—where she became the first South Asian woman ever to be the lead in a network TV drama—or her appearances in films like Baywatch and Isn’t It Romantic?, then you’re definitely familiar with her high-profile marriage to singer and actor Nick Jonas. The pair tied the knot in December 2018, in a multi-day celebration that included a castle, a 75-foot veil, and more outfit changes than we could keep track of. But it’s not just the glamour that drew Chopra and Jonas to one another—it’s a mutual appreciation for each other’s commitment to their respective crafts.
“We celebrate each other's work and each other's wins. I've never had a guy who told me my ambition was attractive before,” Chopra tells Refinery29’s global editor-in-chief Christene Barberich on this week’s UnStyled podcast.
Ambition is something Chopra refuses to apologize for, and she encourages other women to think the same way: “I tell young girls all the time, I am crazy ambitious. I see myself being crazy ambitious for a really long time.”
Chopra’s most recent ambitious project is The Sky Is Pink, a Hindi-language film she co-produced and stars in, which tells the real-life love story of Aditi and Niren Chaudhary through the eyes of their daughter Aisha, a young woman with pulmonary fibrosis. It’s a tear-jerker, to be sure—Aisha died of her illness in 2015, at the age of 18, one day after her book My Little Epiphanies was published. Chopra was making the film, which hits Netflix today, in the weeks leading up to her wedding, an experience she admits resulted in some emotional incongruence. “This movie was particularly hard because I was deliriously happy. I had to really channel deep dark spaces in my head and my heart,” she recalls.
Despite being one of the most beautiful women in the world, Chopra has not forgotten her own childhood insecurities, and is a fierce advocate for the importance of representation of all kinds of bodies and skin tones in media. As a teenager in America, Chopra says, she never saw anyone who looked like her on television. Now, envisions her legacy as being both an icon for girls of color and a catalyst for change in the industry.
“[It’s] every generation's responsibility to make it better for the next generation,” she says. “I feel like I'm at that place where, when it comes to representation, I want to be able to be the conduit of that for immigrant girls across the world that want to come into entertainment.”
Hear the rest of Chopra and Barberich’s conversation by listening to UnStyled and subscribing via Apple Podcasts today.