In ‘Quantico,’ Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra Seeks an American Foothold

18 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

From Miss World to Bollywood to Quantico: Meet Priyanka Chopra, TV’s next breakout star.

Priyanka Chopra’s career may be just heating up stateside, but in her native India her stardom is something akin to Angelina Jolie’s — she’s one of the country’s highest-profile (and highest-paid) actresses and has won a National Film Award — the equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Actress. But being a megastar was never part of her plan — it wasn’t until she won the Miss World competition at age 18 that she even thought about acting. Nabbing the role of FBI trainee-turned-possible terrorist Alex Parrish on Quantico means she’ll be the first Bollywood actress to star on American television, but Chopra’s not concerned about becoming a household name yet — she just wants a challenging part. “I never thought of my roles as a step to anywhere,” she says. “It’s not about furthering my career — it’s a way of life.” In August, Chopra talked to EW in two separate interviews while filming the upcoming ABC action thriller. The pilot also introduces us to the rest of the queer and even more intriguing characters in the show, as they bring different colours and personalities to the show.

That the sun should oblige this Bollywood actress might not seem unreasonable to her fans in India, where she is one of that nation’s highest-profile celebrities. Those conversations have been condensed and edited into the Q&A below, in which Chopra talks not only about her background in India — from regular teen to Miss World to Bollywood star — but also about the significance of her casting in Quantico as part of the conversation about diversity on TV. Chopra, poised as always, spoke thoughtfully about how nervous she was and the anticipation she feels for the project: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get to Quantico, I’d like to talk more to you about your career in India.

Chopra, 33, is banking on television to help her crack Hollywood. “After being in movies for 13 years in India, I’m suddenly a debutante all over again,” she said. “I’m scared and nervous — petrified, actually.” In ABC’s new drama “Quantico,” which debuts Sept. 27, Ms. She gets it right most of the times and calls for an applause for the way she carries the free-spiritedness of Alex. ‘Quantico’ centers around a group of young FBI recruits training at Quantico Base. The series, which has been described as “Homeland” meets “Grey’s Anatomy” (with a bit of “How to Get Away With Murder,” because of its many flashbacks), places Ms.

Like, a couple of months before that, I was in 12th grade in a school uniform and from that I went on to modeling with the biggest designers and traveling the world, and sitting in front of world press talking about the economy of Zimbabwe, and I’m like, what am I talking about? Chopra and her manager, Anjula Acharia-Bath, met Keli Lee, the executive vice president for talent and casting for ABC Entertainment Group, at a dinner party. Lee named some of the actors she’d helped place through the company’s diversity efforts — Sofia Vergara in “Modern Family,” Sandra Oh in “Grey’s Anatomy” and Kerry Washington in “Scandal” — Ms. If I wasn’t doing this in America, I would have done it in Australia, or anywhere. [Coming to American TV] is just an extension of what I want to do. Lee wrote in an email. “I wasn’t going to let distance be a barrier to making a deal.” The one-year commitment required ABC either to develop a project for Ms.

I think that’s the difference between doing Miss World then and doing this now is that at that time, I felt like I was a kid, and I needed to be what the world wanted to see me as, and now I feel like my flaws are what make me unique. Chopra intended to read for when she arrived wearing a designer dress and carrying a designer handbag. “She walked in the room, and it was like the molecules shifted in that way that superstars have,” he recalled. “I was very confused because I didn’t know who she was, but we all sat up straighter.” (“Ah, I love that, when it happens at hello,” she said, giggling at the anecdote. “I make sure my walk is a good entrance. There was a place in Mumbai called Chowpatty Beach, where there are like six holdings [another word for billboards] back-to-back, where they advertise big movies and big things. She’s very accessible both to women and to men, and that’s especially important at ABC, where a large percentage of the audience is women.” Off-screen Ms.

Chopra is somehow unthreatening despite an entourage of assistants and stylists. (There are 22 people on “Team P.C.”: 11 in Mumbai, where she owns a home and is a ubiquitous presence on the city’s billboards, and 11 in North America, where a recent pool party at her rental house here gave rise to a spontaneous Bollywoodesque water ballet to Major Lazer’s “Lean On.”) The child of an Indian Army doctor and a gynecologist, Ms. Chopra moved with her parents every two years until 12, when she decided to live with an aunt in the United States, bouncing among Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Queens; and Newton, Mass. This isn’t the first time you’ve been stateside, of course — you launched a music career here a few years ago and you went to high school for a few years in New York. She won that title and six months later, at 17, was crowned Miss World 2000 — after which her mother wailed, “Who’s going to study now?” In 2002, Ms.

Chopra entered the realm of Bollywood, a term she dislikes for its dismissiveness. “Hindi movies are an amalgamation of culture, of emotions, of drama, of music, of dance — which is why Hindi movies are an experience,” she said. “We make about a thousand movies a year and are expanding into markets in Japan and Germany and Russia. I’m on the run, so they literally have me running! [Laughs] No, I’m kidding, I love my job … The music was new for me, it’s not something I always did, but acting is something I’ve always done.

I had a holding deal with ABC, to find me a show, and I was very clear about the kind of show I wanted to do, because Indian people have always been seen as, well, we’ve been put in a box, about who we should be like. Actually I mean, The Muppets was my favorite, but I was told Miss Piggy won’t allow anyone else on her show. [Laughs] You mentioned you wanted to break the stereotype box in this role. I love what I do, I’m going to divide my time between my Indian movies, whatever work I get and my show and fly across the world wherever work takes me.

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