Chopra breaks new ground
Indian-born actress Priyanka Chopra didn’t hesitate when offered the role of Alex Parrish in the new spy thriller Quantico. COLIN VICKERY reports
PRIYANKA Chopra likes to push the envelope. The 33-year-old is one of India’s most popular actors and now she is breaking new ground by heading the cast of Quantico.
Chopra plays FBI recruit Alex Parrish in the US drama, set at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Parrish is thrust into the spotlight when she survives a terrorist attack in New York City. Authorities believe a Quantico recruit is responsible.
“The psychology of Alex is extremely complex,” Chopra says.
“She is the quintessential modernday girl. She’s smart, she’s confident, she’s intelligent, she’s beautiful and she’s tremendously focused.”
Chopra shares many of Parrish’s qualities but earned them the hard way. Her parents were physicians in the Indian army so she spent her childhood on the move.
As a teenager, Chopra went to live with an aunt in the United States. At 18 she had won the Miss World beauty pageant. Roles in more than 40 Bollywood films followed. More recently Chopra has played a troubled model in drama Fashion, a boxer in sports drama
Mary Kom and an autistic woman in romantic comedy Barfi.
“I had a major self-esteem issue when I was a kid,” Chopra reveals.
“I never really thought I was beautiful. Racism … happened to me when I was in school in America and it affected me tremendously. I taught myself to be the best that I could be. I learnt how to dress right, to speak right, to present myself [and] how to become confident.”
Executive producer Mark Gordon has overseen
Grey’s Anatomy for a decade and says Quantico purposefully shares that show’s ethnic and sexual diversity – allowing it “to aggressively look for the best actors we can find”.
“When Priyanka came in [to audition] we just took the position that she’s the best actor; we’re going to do it [cast her in the lead],” he says.
Chopra feels the pressure of being the first Indian actor to head a major American drama – but the stress is worth it. “Alex could have been from any part of the world,” she says. “I’m just really happy it’s me.”