Priyanka Chopra might play a sexy hardcore FBI recruit on the new ABC thriller series, Quantico, but the confidence she has now took years to build up. Chopra covers the latest issue of NEW YOU magazine, where she details her struggle with bullying as a teenager and explains how she learned to embrace her differences by turning them into a Bollywood and Hollywood career.
Chopra stars as rookie FBI agent Alex Parrish on Quantico, who was wrongfully accused for a bombing at Grand Central Station. She enlists her peers to help prove her innocence and track down the real terrorists who committed the act.
As the protagonist of the show, Chopra became the first South Asian woman to headline an American drama. Chopra reflected how her personal life experiences helped prepare her for the role and life in general.
The 33-year-old comes from a small town in India called Bareilly, where she lived with her younger brother and parents. At the young age of 13, Chopra moved to the United States to live with some family in New York and later moved to Massachusetts. During her time in America as a child, Chopra recalls being made fun of because of her skin color and ethnicity.
A photo posted by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:41am PDT
"There was this bunch of girls who were just mean to me," Chopra told NEW YOU magazine. "When you are 14 and 15, it's a big deal to be called 'brownie' and hear, 'Go back to your country.' At the time, I was really scared," she recalls. "I felt I could not deal with it and thought I should go home."
She developed self-esteem issues and found herself becoming a timid and very nervous person. Chopra decided to return home, not out of defeat, but to learn to love herself. Moving back to India became one of the best decisions in her career, because she learned to own her "flaws," building confidence within herself along the way.
At the age of 17, Chopra won the Miss India pageant and was later awarded the title of Miss World in 2000. Originally aspiring to study an engineering or psychiatry, she ultimately decided to join the Indian film industry.
A photo posted by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on Sep 16, 2015 at 12:51am PDT
Chopra has dominated in the Bollywood movie industry, starring in over 50 films. She made her acting debut in 2002 with Thamizhan, her career skyrocketed with box-office hits like Andaaz, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Aitraaz, Krrish, Don, and more.
Her rise to fame didn't stop there, Chopra also released a multi-platinum song featuring will.i.am. called "In My City," as well as a song with Miami rapper Pitbull.
Chopra hopes her story will encourage girls and young women to become independent and passionate about who they are as people. She believes everyone deserves to feel like they matter. The only opinion that matters is the one you have for yourself, so she insists you make it a good one.
"We were raised equally," Chopra said. "We were taught to have opinions, make decisions, and have the courage of conviction. I believe girls all over the world [have been] raised to believe that we need to be protected, or need someone else to feel validated and strong. Now we are in a time where we are enough."
Take that haters! The Winter issue of NEW YOU featuring Priyanka Chopra on the cover is on newsstands now.