Priyanka Chopra talks lack of Hollywood roles for South Asian women

‘People couldn’t understand the concept of a brown leading lady’: Priyanka Chopra reveals she struggled to break Hollywood due to lack of roles for South Asian women

  • The actress, 38, claimed that she struggled to move away from Bollywood due to a lack of roles for South Asian women in Hollywood movies
  • She became the first South Asian woman to land the lead part in an American TV show when she shot Quantico in 2015

Priyanka Chopra has told of her struggle of breaking into the Hollywood mainstream after discovering a lack of roles for South Asian women.

The actress, 38, is one of the biggest stars in Bollywood, but told how her move into the American mainstream film industry wasn’t so smooth sailing as she didn’t believe people understood ‘the concept of having a brown leading lady or man in mainstream entertainment.’

Speaking on The One Show on Monday, Priyanka said that she eventually became the first South Asian to land the lead part in an American TV show, but despite this success, it said ‘a lot on how far diversity has to go’.

Struggles: Priyanka Chopra has told of her struggle of breaking into the Hollywood mainstream after discovering a lack of roles for South Asian women

Joining hosts Alex Jones and Ronan Keating for a virtual chat, the wife of singer Nick Jonas discussed her successful career, from winning Miss World to her huge Hollywood career.

And Priyanka told how after being huge in Bollywood and deciding to turn to Hollywood, it was almost as if she had to start again because she found that there weren’t that many parts for her.

She explained: ‘I started doing music in America first. I was signed to Interscope records, I put out a couple of records, but the music was just, to me it just didn’t live up to my creative standards. 

Hollywood: The actress, 38, told how she didn’t believe people in the American film industry understood ‘the concept of having a brown leading lady or man in mainstream entertainment’

‘So I pivoted into what I knew best, which was acting and when I started looking for the parts I wanted to do in Hollywood, I realised that I don’t think people could understand the concept of having a brown leading lady or man in mainstream entertainment.’

She continued: ‘I don’t mean genre movies, I don’t mean independent cinema, but I mean mainstream Hollywood movies and shows. That conceptually was strange for me but it was also an impetus to demand something different.

‘I had a lot of faith on what I could bring to the table, I know what I could do when I got onto a set and I just wanted the opportunity be on one.

The star went on to say that despite her eventually finding success and landing a lead role in a TV show in 2015, the fact that she was the first South Asian to do so proved that the diversity in the industry is still a long way from where it should be. 

Time for change: Discussing the lack of roles, she said: ‘That conceptually was strange for me but it was also an impetus to demand something different’

She added: ‘That kind of happened with Quantico, which the first show that I did here. But I was still the first South Asian to ever be the lead on an American show. 

‘I mean, better late than never yes, but it still says a lot on how far diversity has to go.’

The beauty then went on to discuss her first lead role in Hollywood film The White Tiger, and shared how proud she was that she was part of an all-Indian cast that was helping to ‘shift the narrative’ of seeing more diversity in the Hollywood mainstream.  

She said: ‘The White Tiger is something I’m so excited about. It’s a movie which I’m extremely proud of. 

‘The fact that a movie with an all Indian star cast is the number one movie in the world on the biggest streaming platform in the world is historic to me and I’m really happy to be a part of that shifting narrative of seeing mainstream entertainment that looks like me.’

Lead: ‘I was still the first South Asian to ever be the lead on an American show. ‘I mean, better late than never yes, but it still says a lot on how far diversity has to go’ (pictured on Quantico)

Proud: Priyanka shared her joy that she was part of an all-Indian cast of The White Tiger that was helping to ‘shift the narrative’ of seeing more diversity in the Hollywood mainstream

Amid her success in Hollywood with roles in Baywatch, We Can Be Heroes and the upcoming Matrix 4 film, its Bollywood where Priyanka has an insane amount of fame and adoration. 

Discussing her level of fame in Bollywood, she explained: ‘It’s hard to measure success and trajectory by fame. For me, fame is a bi-product of what I do and what I do is I’m a performing artist, I create entertainment. 

‘Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world. Hindi movies and the Bollywood industry as a whole creates about a thousand movies a year which is larger than even Hollywood movies and it has a massive reach around the world. 

‘It’s extremely culturally specific but that is changing and exploding and people who are curious about India and the sub-continent get to know India really really well through Indian movies.’

Famous: ‘It’s hard to measure success and trajectory by fame. For me, fame is a bi-product of what I do and what I do is I’m a performing artist, I create entertainment’ (pictured in January 2020 with husband Nick Jonas)

Priyanka’s words come after  she recently recalled when a director told her to undergo a breast augmentation in order to ‘fix her proportions’ after winning Miss World in 2000.

In a new interview, the actress – who details the encounter in her new memoir Unfinished – admitted she ‘never had the courage to stand up for myself’ and insisted similar assessments on budding thespians are ‘so normalised’.

The screen star also championed women for taking control of their careers and declared she’s now ‘proud’ of herself. 

‘I never had the courage to stand up for myself’: Priyanka recently recalled when a director told her to undergo a breast augmentation after winning Miss World in 2000 (pictured)

The media personality first rose to fame as the recipient of Miss World 2000, and went on to dominate the Bollywood industry.

On the shocking meeting, Priyanka told Metro: ‘It’s so normalised that it doesn’t come up in conversation. I talked about a movie that I walked out of because of how I was spoken to by the director. 

‘It was early in my career, but I never told him why I walked out. I never had the courage to stand up for myself, and actually admit it. Because I heard so often, ”Don’t be a nuisance, you’re new in the industry.”

‘I fell for it too, even though I consider myself a forward-thinking, smart girl. I learned from that over time, but at that time, I was terrified.’

‘I heard so often, ”Don’t be a nuisance, you’re new in the industry”’: In a new interview, the actress insisted similar assessments on budding stars are ‘normalised’ (pictured in 2019)

‘He suggested that I get a boob job, fix my jaw, and add a little more cushioning to my butt’: The Bollywood icon detailed the encounter in her new memoir Unfinished

The Sky Is Pink star first touched on her experience in her autography as she said: ‘After a few minutes of small talk, the director/producer told me to stand up and twirl for him. I did. 

‘He stared at me long and hard, assessing me, and then suggested that I get a boob job, fix my jaw, and add a little more cushioning to my butt. 

‘If I wanted to be an actress, he said, I’d need to have my proportions ”fixed”, and he knew a great doctor in LA he could send me to. My then-manager voiced his agreement with the assessment.’

The Mary Kom actress claimed she was left feeling ‘stunned and small’ as she wondered whether she was ‘cut out for this business after all’. 

‘I was terrified’: The Mary Kom actress confessed she was left feeling ‘stunned and small’ as she wondered whether she was ‘cut out for this business after all’ (pictured in 2020)

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