Was Denied Movie Role in Hollywood Because I Was Brown, Says Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra also said in an interview that women of color end up getting paid less in Hollywood.


Priyanka Chopra’s foray into Hollywood was not an easy one, the Bollywood actor recalled in an interview with InStyle magazine on April 10. Chopra said that she was once denied a role in a movie because of her ethnicity.

She recounted the incident in response to how Hollywood treats women of color when it comes to equal pay and opportunities. “I was out for a movie, and somebody [from the studio] called one of my agents and said, ‘She’s the wrong—what word did they used?— physicality.’ So in my defense as an actor, I’m like, ‘Do I need to be skinnier? Do I need to get in shape? Do I need to have abs?’ Like, what does ‘wrong physicality’ mean?… And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’ It affected me,” she told the magazine.

Chopra has now made her mark as a South Asian actor playing a lead role in the American television show, Quantico, the third season of which will soon be on air. The show’s popularity brought her into limelight in the Western entertainment world, with her making regular appearances at award functions like the Emmys, Oscars and Golden Globes, and being featured on covers of all international magazines. She also starred in Baywatch movie as an antagonist.

Chopra she said that her ethnicity was a sore point even when it came to pay disparity . “No one will say that a woman is getting paid less because she’s a woman of color, but the numbers mostly end up reflecting that,” she said.

Comparing Hollywood and Bollywood over the issue of wage gap, Chopra said: “In America, we don’t talk about it as brashly, whereas in India the issue is not skirted around. I’ve been told straight up, if it’s a female role in a movie with big, male actors attached, your worth is not really considered as much. In Hollywood, she added, while producers do not want to say the wrong thing and be liable, they still manage to do what they wanted in the first place.

Saying she wants to see a day when women-led movies get as much acceptance with the audience, she said: “People don’t go watch females in movies because they don’t believe that they can be heroes. The world has to change the way they look at their heroes. Specifically how men can help is changing the ‘locker-room talk’ conversation. Nothing will change until we break the stereotypes of gender in our normal, day-to-day life.”

Apart from the third season of Quantico, Chopra will be seen in supporting roles in Isn’t It Romantic? and A Kid Like Jake. No Bollywood project starring her is in the pipeline currently.

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