During an interview for BBC’s 100 Women, the 40-year-old actor said that she received equal pay to her male co-actor for the first time in her career for her role in the US series, Citadel.
“I’ve never had pay parity in Bollywood,” Chopra said. “I would get paid about 10 per cent of the salary of my male co-actor.
“It [the pay gap] is large, substantially large. And so many women still deal with that. I’m sure I will too if I worked with a male co-actor now in Bollywood,” she added.
“My generation of female actors have definitely asked [for equal pay]. We’ve asked, but we’ve not got it.”
Chopra also highlighted the deeply rooted patriarchy in the Bollywood film industry.
“I thought it was absolutely OK to sit for hours and hours on set, while my male co-actor just took his own time, and decided whenever he wanted to show up on set is when we would shoot,” she said.
The Quantico star continued speaking about the bullying and body shaming she’s received in the past.
“I was called ‘black cat’, ‘dusky’. I mean, what does ‘dusky’ even mean in a country where we are literally all brown?” Chopra said. “I thought I was not pretty enough, I believed that I would have to work a lot harder, even though I thought I was probably a little bit more talented than my fellow actors who were lighter skinned. But I thought that was right because it was so normalised.
“Of course, that comes from our colonial past, it’s not even been 100 years since we shed the British Raj, so we still hold on to it, I think. But it is up to our generation to be able to cut those ties and change it so that the next generation doesn’t inherit the equity placed on light skin.”
On the topic of whether South Asians are accepted in the Hollywood industry, Chopra said that there’s a “long way to go”.
“I think maybe I’ve built a certain amount of credibility, and so I’m doing interesting work. We’ll see if that’s accepted or not. It’s really hard to be South Asian and Indian in Hollywood. There’s still a long way to go,” she said.
Citadel is an upcoming American science fiction drama television series created by Patrick Moran and the Russo brothers for Amazon Prime Video. A release date is yet to be announced.