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Priyanka Chopra on being a victim of colorism
Priyanka Chopra is one personality which has inspired many in India and world over. From winning the Miss India pageant in 2000, to making a make in Bollywood and now Hollywood, she has come a long way. However, in the life of this star things have not come easy. She has struggled and worked very hard to own the name and fame and the tile of an ‘international celebrity’ which is associated with her today. One such issue that she has been a victim of is colorism. The actress has taken to several platforms to speak about the issue and voice her concern over a practice which is looked down upon.
One such incident that she faced was in school. She left India at the age of 13 to study in Massachusetts, but was encountered a bully who made her return home. She mentioned to a daily “I was living in Bareily, from there I went straight to Boston and joined school there. I didn’t know how to fit in. I was bullied by a freshman named Jeanine. She was black, and supremely racist. Jeanine used to say, ‘Brownie, go back to your country, you smell of curry,’ or ‘Do you smell curry coming?’ You know when you’re a kid, and you’re made to feel bad about where your roots are, or what you look like? You don’t understand it, you just feel bad about who you are.” Some girls called her ‘browny’ and she was typecast, pointed a finger at for being Indian.
Priyanka shared another incident on the show “Koffee with Karan” where she mentioned that “On a flight from Europe to New York, the air host stopped me from going to the loo upfront and directed me to the one at the back assuming I was flying economy. This reaction from him was due to my brown colour. This is a first world problem and one of those small episodes that keep happening”. She also stated that the people of the west have a perception that Indians cannot speak English and are usually surprised with her language skills.
On talking about signing the show “Quantico”, she said “So when ABC Network came to me with this idea, I never thought of doing anything with them in terms of acting because I was only getting offers to play the Indian princess, some exotic looking snake-charmer or some hypnotizing lady. I never wanted to be restricted to such typical avatars. I do it and I do it damn well. But it annoys me when my country is seen as only that much in global entertainment. I told them very clearly that I’d do it if you cast me as an ethnically ambiguous part. I mentioned that the fact that I am an Indian should have nothing to do with the story, cast me an actor. And they did.”
Delivering a speech on perfection, Priyanka said “I is not perfect and it’s okay to be flawed as long as you are being yourself. My life was an epitome of imperfection. I’m not perfect like Aishwarya Rai, beautiful, stunning. I was a gawky kid, only thing I knew was to work hard and learn. I didn’t know how to act or win a beauty pageant. My career has been instinctive, but every situation taught me something.”
“Racism? Yeah! I wasn’t cast in a movie because I didn’t…because they had to write a storyline explaining why an American would be Indian and things like that. So that’s hugely racist. Even though you might be the best person for the job, just because of the colour of your skin, you don’t get cast. So, that happens and it was extremely painful!” She further added, “I think racism is something that’s prevalent everywhere. It’s just how many people talk about it and how many people have the courage to call it out.”
Priyanka Chopra is one of the many celebrities who have taken the stage to not only speak about discrimination but has set an example of how she broke these stereotypical barriers and went on to become one of the most sought after Indian celebrity globally.