Priyanka Chopra may have been born in India, but the actress and former Miss World pageant winner spent her teenage years at American high schools, where the Baywatch star revealed she endured countless racist bullying during her younger years.
The 36-year-old spoke with the Associated Press last Friday, May 11, and detailed her unpleasant experiences while studying at American high schools with fellow classmates singling her out because of her skin tone.
“I was treated differently because I’m brown,” Chopra told AP. “I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade. I was called ‘Brownie,’ ‘Curry,’ [told to] ‘go back on the elephant you came on,’ and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”
Chopra was born in the state of Bihar in India, but moved to the United States when she was 13-years-old to live with her aunt. The Quantico actress bounced around the states quite a bit, attending schools in Massachusetts, Iowa, and Queens, New York.
While in high school in the Boston suburbs, Chopra says she was a “gawky, imperfect child”, telling the International Business Times back in 2012 that the traits she was made fun for are now the things that have made her famous.
“My life was an epitome of imperfection. I’m not perfect like (fellow Indian actress and former Miss World winner) Aishwarya Rai, beautiful, stunning,” Chopra said at the time. “I was a gawky kid, had low self-esteem, came from a modest middle-class background, had white marks on my legs, but only thing I knew was to work hard and learn. I didn’t know how to act or win a beauty pageant,” she said, adding “But I was damn hard working. Today, my legs sell 12 brands.”
Amongst the many brands Chopra now represents in 2019, the Bollywood star recently became an ambassador for the skin care company Obagi and its Skinclusion campaign. The actress, who is married to singer Nick Jonas, added that she remains hopeful that the experiences she had in high school will change with the right kind of conversations and dialogue.
“The more we can talk about it and open other people’s eyes and say, ‘It doesn’t have to be that way,’ and give them more examples, I guess society will change,” she told AP.
Chopra is set to star in the Bollywood film The Sky Is Pink, which is set to be released in October 2019.