In what turned out to be a launch vehicle for Priyanka Chopra, “Quantico” premiered in the fall of 2015 on ABC. In the years since, the FBI-CIA drama garnered mixed reviews because despite a strong lead, it had complicated storylines and several messy subplots. Despite a lucrative deal with Netflix and strong international viewership, the ratings were declining. Last week, the network decided not to renew the show, which is currently airing its third and now final season.
However, one thing is for certain: Chopra comes out of this as a definite superstar.
An already successful Indian cinema actress, Chopra began making rounds in the West with her music, with songs like “Exotic” and “In My City,” collaborating with artists like Pitbull and will.i.am. Three years ago, she was offered multiple scripts by ABC. She chose to do “Quantico” and to play Alex Parrish. While the show was at best mediocre for her skillful acting, it led her to universal acclaim.
Even if the show has met its demise now, Chopra’s journey is only at the onset of towering high. The show gave her a grand debut on primetime television, careening for weekly screen time with American audiences. She was the first Indian actress to do this. She was playing a fierce character of power. She was the center of this show. No matter what reviews it got, this is quite a daunting and even heavy burden to take on, especially considering Chopra had already established herself in Bollywood.
Over these years, Chopra has become somewhat of an American media sweetheart and has created a ground-breaking case for herself as a global icon.
She made her Hollywood debut in May 2017 as a smooth-talking villain in “Baywatch” opposite Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. She has an indie film coming out this summer, “A Kid Like Jake,” in which she stars alongside fellow TV stars Jim Parsons and Claire Danes. In February 2019, her romantic-comedy film “Isn’t It Romantic?” will release. It stars Rebel Wilson and Chris Hemsworth, as well.
Chopra has seized almost every opportunity not only on-screen but also off-screen to charm the media and the viewers, much to her success. This ranged from her stunning red carpet looks (Oscars! Emmys! Billboard Music Awards!), several magazine covers, engaging talk show appearances (Ellen! Jimmy Kimmel! Seth Meyers!), or exclusive events like the Met Gala. As a relative newcomer jumping into this part of the world, she pretty much aced it all by nailing down on what makes her authentic yet compelling to worldwide audiences.
None of her accomplishments take away from the other Indian actors who’ve created their own space in international pop culture, of course. Before Chopra, perhaps the biggest Bollywood name in America was Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan. She notably appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show, was a part of “Pink Panther 2” opposite Steve Martin, and led movies like “Mistress of Spices” and “Pride and Prejudice.” She still continues to dominate over the Cannes red carpet. South Asian actors from the diaspora like Mindy Kaling, Parminder Nagra, Archie Punjabi, Kal Penn, Sakina Jaffrey, Aasif Mandvi, Aziz Ansari are all part of the revolution for accurate representation in the media.
However, Chopra helped put Indian actors on the map in a way that hadn’t been seen before. Perhaps it’s because, like I said, she took every chance she got to let the world know she was here and she was doing her thing. It led to more open minds while casting actors originating in India. Look no further than Deepika Padukone’s own Hollywood debut with “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” in 2017, which was a terrific achievement for Padukone. She herself is still stealing hearts with her own Met Gala and Cannes appearances. Anupam Kher and Vir Das each have series regular roles in upcoming TV shows for the 2018-2019 season. Obviously, each of their talents brought them this far but Chopra paved a way with her triumph.
She clearly doesn’t plan on slowing down, either. She will return to Bollywood after an almost 2-year hiatus with “Bharat” opposite Salman Khan, she is attending her good friend Meghan Markle’s big fat royal wedding on May 19, her production company Purple Pebble Pictures will release more regional languages movies in India, and she is developing a potential sitcom for ABC based on the life of Madhuri Dixit-Nene. These are just the projects we know about.
“Quantico” may be over but for Chopra, this is only the beginning.