Every Sunday, I had to convince America that I was an American: Priyanka Chopra on breaking stereotypes

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Priyanka Chopra has achieved a lot in a very short span of time. She is a global star, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a former Miss World and a numero uno actress. The Bollywood actress has made a name for herself in Hollywood as well and does not mince her words when she says that she will only play female leads and that too not stereotypical ones. Priyanka broke stereotypes when she took up the role of Alex Parrish in Quantico it was the first time an Indian actress was playing the main lead in a primetime TV series, before that Indian or let’s say Asian characters were always sidelined or spoofed.

Priyanka was in Delhi on Monday afternoon to be a part of FICCI Ladies Organisation’s (FLO) interactive session on ‘Challenging the Status Quo and Forging New Paths’. The actress spoke about how she landed her role in the series Quantico and how she was clear that she will never do a role that puts her in a box.
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She said, “I’ve lived in America as a child, and my biggest pet peeve then was not seeing anyone on the television that looked like me. So whenever you saw Indians in global mainstream entertainment, you always saw them in a box of the nerds, the big fat Punjabi family wedding or the shopkeeper or Apu from The Simpsons. Why could we not go beyond that? Why did our ethnicity define the roles we played? So, the only thing I told the people, was that don’t come to me with a show based on a big Punjabi wedding, I won’t do it… I don’t want to be put in a box and I don’t want my ethnicity to define the roles I take on. They came to me with 26 scripts and I chose to play an FBI agent who happened to be half-Indian.”

Priyanka also said how the makers of the show were thinking of changing her character’s name to a more Indian sounding one, but Priyanka put her foot down. She said, “I had an Indian assistant whose name was Jennifer, so I old the team that they were again stereotyping me. They had given me a character and it was my job now to convince the world that I am that person. Every Sunday, I had to convince America that I was an American.”

Priyanka’s stand is indeed praiseworthy and her series opened avenues for Indians in Hollywood. Hopefully, we would see more Asian men and women playing main leads and not caricatures and bit roles in films and television series anymore.

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