From the series “Quantico” in which she plays commanding yet charismatic FBI agent Alex Parrish to the recent family-centered drama ‘A Kid Like Jake’, actress Priyanka Chopra is clearly determined and is shaping up to be quite capable of accomplishing her goal of “world domination” as she makes a name for herself in Hollywood. She’s the first South Asian to lead an American network drama series and to receive a People’s Choice Award, and Favorite Dramatic TV Actress in 2017.
What might have been said solely to make a statement may be realized by and well within the reaches of Chopra. She’s a world-renowned actress, recently become a producer, and a humanitarian through her role as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for children around the world.
I’ve grown up hearing Chopra’s name at home and as legions of fans now converge upon her both in India and America as she establishes herself in the East and West, she brings diversity to quintessentially American movies and represents millions of girls and women across the globe.
“Kids from all over — not just Indians — come talk to me,” Chopra told Glamour Magazine. “I met this Dominican girl the other day who said, ‘Everyone tells me that I look like you.’ She gave me a hug, and said, ‘You gave me the strength to stand up onstage and give a presentation in school on where I came from.’”
She shares her world domination agenda with Bollywood film critic and the founder of Film Companion, Anupama Chopra, and confirms her various upcoming roles.
“Yes, [but these roles] are supporting parts,” Chopra replied when asked. “I keep telling people do not expect this [sic] to be Priyanka Chopra films. These are supporting parts that I’m doing in these movies, but so as I see, this is not a career; It is a world domination.”
Priding herself on excellence, she juggles commitments while striving to pour herself fully into all that she does.
“The biggest challenge is being able to juggle all of it and do it with the efficiency of the standard that I set for myself,” Chopra said in the interview. “I set a very high bar for myself in anything, whether it’s the interview that I sit and give with you or whether it’s a photo shoot that I might do or whether it is a film I might make. Excellence is the pursuit of my life in anything that I do. So the biggest challenge is the fact that I live between North America and Mumbai and how to be able to on remote control work on both countries. So while I’m in India working on figuring out as an actor which is the film I want to do next year, I have development for a series that I’m doing in America. I have scripts coming out for ‘Quantico,’ which is now gonna start in a month. I have trips that I do for my philanthropy work. Just being able to balance all of it is a huge challenge. I have a team of about 25 people that run me, so it I think it needs that kind of support.”
Rather than lining up a repertoire, the focus for her is on choosing projects that matter and that have the ability to excite and connect with her.
“Yes, I’ve read so much and I just, you’ve hit the nail on the head,” she enthused in the interview. “It’s just very difficult. I don’t know, I need something which, you know, holds me by the shoulders and shakes me when I read it. And yes, I have read films like that in India which I want to do. I’m sort of very close to two films that I definitely want to do, which is going to be next year after ‘Quantico.’ So I’m not in a rush because it’ll be after March next year. But there are some amazing films that are being made in India right now and some amazing filmmakers that are coming up with great ideas.”
She finds truly quality films to be hidden gems, and feels that the onset of digital streaming platforms has oversaturated the market in creating new opportunities.
“But yes, they [quality films] are few and far in between, whether it’s here or there,” Chopra said to Glamour. “In both places, I think that entertainment is going through a change at the moment with digital coming in in such a big way in our lives where you’re streaming movies and content from all over the world on your phone, so you don’t have to get up and go to a movie theater anymore to experience entertainment. And I think that’s changed our world so now filmmakers really have a voice and they can say anything, they can tell the stories that they want, and so it’s a great world. But it’s also a place where there’s just a lot of rubbish. So to be able to sift that is where I am right now, for me as talent.”
Actress Kangana Ranaut, who Anupama Chopra interviewed previously, expressed that she wanted to become an autonomous brand and work in the way that men and A-list stars in Bombay do and oversee or mentor a project from inception to release, which Priyanka Chopra did not foresee for herself.
“I don’t think so,” she said in the interview. “I’m doing that as a producer right now with my small films with my limited understanding of the technical side of filmmaking. I have not gone to school and studied how to be a filmmaker or an actor or a producer. Everything I do right now is with instinct and experience that I’ve had over the years was working with the most prolific filmmakers in India. But I don’t believe that I want to whatever the boys are doing. They do what they do and it’s their thing. But I see myself in, what I know best is what I’d like to do and I like to work with experts in their fields who know what they’re doing and collaborate. I’m not someone who feels the need that I should do all the work and everything is my job to do. I don’t want to do that.”
Chopra has long been interested in film production and previously attended project markets including HAF in Hong Kong. She launched Purple Pebble Productions over two years ago at a time when she was consciously switching her acting and singing careers toward the west. The company name is a reference to both royalty and to Priyanka Chopra, as seen by her mother.
“She’s my rolling stone,” Madhu Chopra said, according to The Peninsula Qatar.
“I feel that people should do what they do best, collaborate, and make partnerships,” she said in the interview. “That’s what film making is. It’s not rocket science. It’s not very difficult. It’s just great people coming together wanting to tell a story and having fun while doing it. And that’s the kind of environment that I’ve created at Purple Pebble Pictures and that’s the kind of way I like to work.”
She has earned respect and trust in the industry by asserting her opinions and sharing valuable input.
“Even as an actor, if I have an opinion, I will talk to a producer, I will talk to a director, but I’m not someone who’s gonna, like, impose my decision on someone with, directors with fragile egos,” she said. “It’s not just directors, I mean, just people have fragile egos in the entertainment business. And with some I’ve not had that. I’ve had, most of the directors that I’ve worked with somehow have, you know, been really amazing collaborators and have given me the respect because I don’t step on toes.”
When asked if she had found a comparative advantage in working in America, she believed she had not.
“Nothing at all,” Chopra asserted in the interview. “Absolutely the only thing that I think I get as an advantage in America versus India is the lead cast, like ‘A Kid Like Jake,’ a movie that I’m doing for example, the lead cast is Claire Danes and Jim Parsons, okay. But the story is such an incredible story based on a play. It’s a first time director and it’s about a 4-year-old child who has a gender crisis and the parents don’t know how to deal with it. He wants to be Rapunzel instead of Spider-Man, how the school reacts, and I am the neighbor whose son doesn’t have gender issues and they are friends.”
Seeing actors and diverse perspectives coming together only enhances the filming experience for Chopra.
“And you have people like Octavia Spencer,” she said in the interview. “You have such incredible actors that have come together just to do four scenes or, like, six scenes. That’s the only thing that I miss in India. Like, I was trying, I know, I know, I was being utopian again and my mother shot me down. I was trying to cast this movie, which is a small organic kids film where I wanted a big-time female actor to come into six scenes. And I mean, I’ve done ‘Kaminey’ when I was in eight scenes. I’ve done ‘Bajirao Mastani’ where I’m a supporting part. I’ve done Barfi! where I’m not the main lead, but I think differently.”
She has been able to attract actors and actresses to the stories of the films she plans to produce beyond publicity and profit.
“Maybe remember the said entourage of the actress would cost more than the budget of the film, so I was shot down,” Chopra said in the interview. “But my, to get, like, an actor, they just come and support a film on, you know, an issue with children and stray dogs. And it was just, anyway I’ll probably end up doing it myself at some point if I can do everything, man. But it’s not, that’s what I feel, like that’s the only thing, like to have actors, like, you know, a huge male actor support a female part or a female film, you know. Yeah, just look at the fact that you’re supporting a female lead movie. That’s something that I think I’m, that’s the only, so now, I mean, I see a lot of actors now doing it and coming and having those conversations. So I hope that does happen in India, but I noticed it here and I was just upset, but I couldn’t do it.”
She is constantly working on new projects, but plans to announce them with surety and accuracy once all deals are sealed.
“Yes, I am as soon as I put pen to paper because I feel I’m not somebody who’s into like gimmickry through an announcement,” Chopra said in the interview. “I believe in starting the film and when it’s come to a place where you can talk about it, then people should see what I’m talking about because otherwise there’s so many speculations. Like I believed I’ve signed some 20 films so far. I mean, I’m in conversation with everything that’s beginning it at the moment and I am in conversation with a few people that, but that doesn’t make a film and that definitely doesn’t make news.”
For her, speculation and rumors decrease the value of entertainment news, and she believes true stories should be brought to the forefront.
“You know, like trolling and speculative movie announcements are two things that really need to get out of entertainment news,” Chopra asserted in the interview. “Then there’ll be so much more to talk about since when the trolling becomes news, how can someone’s opinion on Twitter become front-page headlines? That’s another one that’s a pet peeve of mine.”
Her world domination agenda has been set into motion, and with headlines surrounding game-changers, artists, and activists like Chopra, entertainment news will never be banal.