Despite being an international star and a former Miss World, Priyanka Chopra says that she is still rejected for roles because of her race and skin tone.
In an interview with InStyle, Chopra opened up about how Hollywood is still frequently hung up on her ethnicity when it comes to casting her in roles. Despite the success of Quantico, she told the magazine, her agent is still told that Chopra is not the right fit for certain roles.
“It happened last year,” Chopra recalled. “I was out for a movie, and somebody [from the studio] called one of my agents and said, ‘She’s the wrong—what word did they used?—‘physicality.’ So in my defense as an actor, I’m like, ‘Do I need to be skinnier? Do I need to get in shape? Do I need to have abs?’ Like, what does ‘wrong physicality’ mean?” Chopra pauses. “And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’ It affected me.”
Chopra is channeling her upset to advocate for more diversity in Hollywood at all levels. “It happens at the casting level,” she noted. “There are not enough meaty, strong lead roles for women where we don’t have to compromise on every level just to get the best job.”
But the actress is also not letting audiences off the hook, noting that both the pay gap and the lack of roles for women of color exist because studio executives believe that women (particularly non-white actresses) cannot carry films at the box office. ““I want to see the day where female-led movies get as much of a run as the boys do, which means the ticket-buying audience needs to be open to that,” Chopra said. “People don’t go watch females in movies because they don’t believe that they can be heroes. The world has to change the way they look at their heroes.”
Quantico returns for its third season on April 26 at 10 p.m. Eastern on ABC.