She’s the first Indian actress to headline an American network TV series, playing a CIA agent who was once suspected of being a terrorist. She’s a longtime philanthropist, thanks to her work with UNICEF. And she’s a former Miss World beauty queen who hasn’t let her stunning looks define her.
But above and beyond all that, Priyanka Chopra is “a very proud of feminist. Feminism has gotten such a bad name — people equate it with berating men,” she says. “All women are saying is, ‘Don’t judge me for my choices.’ That’s who Alex is. She runs in the world of boys.”
Alex is, of course, the take-no-prisoners character Chopra plays on Quantico. Chopra is justifiably proud to be the face and name of a show where her nationality barely plays a part. And when it does, it’s to make a broader point — such as in Season 1, when she’s the prime suspect in a bombing at Grand Central and has to clear her name.
“I have to say that TV has taken huge strides compared to movies, whether it comes to diversity or female parts. Look at the diaspora of women. It’s so wonderful to see such strong female characters on television. When it comes to diversity, I’m someone who is of the belief that the best person for the job should get the job, not because of what they look like. Something like that happened with me,” she says.
That’s because, Chopra explains, “Alex was not written for an Indian girl. Alex was written for an American girl. We didn’t know the ethnicity. Even now, I’m told I was the best person for the job. You can’t write parts for what people look like anymore. The world is so mixed with so many different kinds of people. Entertainment needs to be a mirror of what society is today. Alex is a representation of what a modern woman should be. It’s what feminism stands for. Let me make my own decisions. I’m unapologetic about the way I live my life. That’s what we say as feminists, right? We want to be able to enjoy the same freedoms as men have. And that’s what Alex is.”
Same goes for Chopra, 34. She recently made headlines for suffering a concussion while shooting Quantico. But if you ask her about it, it’s like talking about a hangnail.
“I’m good. It was surprising. I never get hurt when I’m doing stunts. I’m very careful; it was rainy and I was in rubber boots. I’ve never had concussion. My mom got on a flight the next day,” says Chopra.
“I rested for three days. I was told not to watch TV or read anything. I was listening to Amy Schumer all weekend. I love her. She’s so funny. Monday morning I was back at work in a brace. I drove myself mental.”
And then she swung by the People’s Choice Awards, and picked up her best dramatic TV actress prize. Success, however, can be hard won. Today, she glances down at her arms and does a double-take. “Sorry for my bruises. Action. I just saw them. I mostly do my own stunts — I’ve done action for years. I trust my instincts,” she says.
Her fashion mantra follows along with how she lives her life. “I have to be comfortable in what I wear. I’m very moody — extremely moody. In the morning, if I don’t feel like wearing what I picked out to wear, I will change it. If I don’t feel my best, I can’t perform,” she says.
And perform she must. Chopra is doing a full day of press on no sleep, having flown into New York at 6 a.m. this day, after five consecutive redeyes. Her makeup artist, Sir John, “saved” her today, she says. “My beauty biggest rule is: water.” she says. “We don’t realize it. I don’t drink it as much as I should. I really moisturize and take off my makeup. It’s disgusting. It screws up your face. By the time you’re 40, you’ll be like, ‘Why didn’t I take off my makeup?’ no matter how drunk or tired you are.”
She drinks a ton of water and gives credit to her “great Indian genetics. At the same time, with the kind of life I live, I have to take care of my skin. These are things I can do every day, and they make my skin decent.”
During her Quantico hiatus, Chopra plans to produce films. Plus, she’s diving into nostalgia on the big screen this summer with Zac Efron (and his abs). “I have Baywatch out this summer. I’m the villain in the movie. I make the lifeguard squad’s lives miserable. It’s so much fun to push every limit. Being bad is just sexy. It’s so good and delectable,” she says.