Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

‘It’s a Little Scary,’ Says Actress Priyanka Chopra About Being an Immigrant Today

Priyanka Chopra

Opening up about her experiences in the United States, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra said being an immigrant today is “a little scary.”

In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, the 36-year-old Quantico and Baywatch star described herself as “a small-town girl from a small city in India.” Chopra, who is currently making news about her engagement with American singer Nick Jonas, said the United States has “engulfed me in the best, warmest, biggest hug. I have tremendous love for America, being my host country for so many years.” She, however, pointed out that she is an Indian citizen. “I’m here on a visa,” she said.

Chopra, who has also been appointed as UNICEF’s Global Goodwill Ambassador, also talked about the ongoing debates about immigration issues. “I am a working immigrant myself,” she said about the current U.S. border crisis. “I’ve worked with UNICEF with refugee children; I’ve seen what it feels like when you’re displaced. I try and use my platform to talk about kindness and compassion. We as people need to stand up for what we think is right and what we feel is right.”

Being an immigrant today, she said, is, “A little scary. Uncertain.”

Asked about things that most people don’t know about India, Chopra said, “That a lot of us speak English.” She also mentioned that people mistake India only for poverty and spirituality. “Those are both real parts of it, but India as a whole is an experience. Every state has a different written and spoken language—not a dialect. It’s like many, many different countries in one,” she added.

The magazine, in its special report on immigration, has featured the talents and contributions of women with roots in foreign countries. Chopra, in response to a question about what America means to her, said, “Freedom. It’s really the land of opportunity and a melting pot of the world.” Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu, on the other hand, called the country a land of “struggle and possibility.”

The September issue also features several dynamic CEOs and their immigration journeys, such as Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization supporting girls in computer science; Ayah Bdeir of LittleBits, a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks; and Moj Mahdara of the beauty brand, Beautycon.

Chopra has spoken about being an immigrant in the United States earlier as well. Earlier this year, when asked about the controversy over The Simpsons’ character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who is an Indian American store clerk with an exaggerated Indian accent, Chopra recalled her experiences while pursuing high school in the United States. “I was always asked when I was in high school — like at 14, 15 — why I didn’t speak like that… I always had questions like that,” she said during an appearance as a guest star on The View. “He was the bane of my life growing up,” she added.

Chopra, who was born in Jamshedpur and attended high school in Queens, New York, and Newton, Massachusetts, returned to India home when she was 17, and went on to win the Miss World title in 2000.

The actress, who rose to fame in Hollywood with her appearance in the television show Quantico, was caught in a controversy earlier this year after an episode in the series featured a group of Hindus hatching a terror plot in the United States. The episode sparked outrage among several Indians on the social media, and while Chopra’s fan rose to her defense, the television studio as well as the actress issued apologies over the issue.