She’s a megastar from Mumbai, India, home to the world’s most prolific film industry.
She’s an award-winning actress, a former Miss World, a singer and a dancer. She serves as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and as a United Nations Girl Up Champion, and she is involved in efforts to promote the education of girls in India.
She’s a social media queen, with more than 10 million followers on Twitter.
Priyanka Chopra has international cachet and a global fan base. But her star power has been relatively lackluster in the United States.
That may be about to change. Chopra is the star of “Quantico,” a drama premiering September 27 on ABC. In recent weeks, her face has been splashed across billboards and buses from Los Angeles to Toronto to New York.
Chopra, 33, has thrived in the Indian film industry for more than a decade. But as she gets ready for her close-up on American television, she feels like a complete newcomer.
“I’m excited about making a new foray, but I’m also very nervous,” Chopra said. “I feel like a debutante, like how I felt when my first movie was releasing in 2003. Every time I see a billboard, every time I see my face on a bus or a magazine, I’m just like, ‘It’s a new culture, a new country.’ I hope that I’m accepted as an actor.”
‘An empowered woman’
In the series, Chopra plays Alex Parrish, one of a diverse group of new FBI recruits, each with a mysterious past. As the show cuts between the present and the past, Parrish becomes the prime suspect in a devastating terrorist attack in New York.
Chopra describes her character as a “Jason Bourne in a female form.”
“She’s smart, she’s sexy, she’s intelligent, she kicks ass, and she’s not afraid to take her life in her own hands. But the beauty of Alex is, she’s not macho. She’s very feminine, and she’s vulnerable,” Chopra said. “I love that she’s a celebration of the modern woman. She’s not just an ass-kicking, feeling-less robot.”
“Quantico” has been described as “Homeland” meets “Grey’s Anatomy.” Its cast includes Aunjanue Ellis as the assistant director of the FBI academy and Jake McLaughlin as a fellow FBI recruit and love interest, but Chopra’s character has the central role.
“This is an idea that no one has explored: taking a global actor, a global talent, and launching them in the American market,” Chopra said. “It’s new for all of us — ABC, me, everyone — it’s the new prototype. I guess we’ll find out what happens.”
Chopra, who lived in the U.S. for four years as a teenager, credits the show’s producers and ABC for taking a chance on her. She believes that such diverse casting could be a precursor of entertainment’s future as the world shrinks.
“I think the globe has become a really small place now, and we are all global citizens, at least I think I am,” she said. “The girl next door’s face has changed. She does not come from a particular place. … She can be anyone from anywhere.”