Priyanka Chopra's interview with Oprah Winfrey on Oprah's show Super Soul comes to Discovery+ today. Chopra spoke about her memoir, Unfinished, as well as her marriage, her parents, her career, and her most recent release, The White Tiger. She discussed her relationship with faith and spirituality, and why Nick Jonas is the man for her. Here are some of the most interesting things she said in the episode.
On The White Tiger:
"I had read the book in 2008. I actually read that it was being adapted for Netflix on Twitter. And I told my agent to call and offer my services as an executive producer. Because when I was seeking work in America five or six years ago, I just thought that it was not really in the consciousness of the filmmakers that a leading mainstream part could be played by a brown person. And I didn't want the movie to be [slotted as] an 'independent' movie or put into a genre box, which ends up happening when you see the leading cast is all Indian. So I really wanted to EP it and get as many eyeballs as I can to the movie, because the story is universal and the narrative is about a class divide, which exists everywhere in the world right now."
What She Misses About Her Father:
"I miss … just how unabashedly proud of me he would be, in the littlest things. If I was having dinner and my plate was clean, my dad would be excited. If I wore a dress I liked, my dad would be excited. If I won an award… The littlest thing or the biggest thing, he'd be the loudest in the room. I miss the noise, the excitement he had, the joy, and the investment he had in my life. But I do feel he's been very instrumental in me being where I am today; I think he's gone up there and made a few things happen. He's helped me find a sense of peace, which I never had when he was around. He always saw me as this restless, trying-to-get-to-the-new-place thing, and he always wanted me to have a sense of peace. And that's when I feel him around: when I feel peaceful."
Racist Bullying in High School in the US:
"High school is hard anyway. And to be coming of age, to understand your body as a woman; at the same time, to be devalued for something I can't change! I wasn't even aware of the fact that this was something I should feel embarrassed about. Did my clothes smell funny when I walked by in the hallway? Did people smell curry? Little things like that, at sixteen, are so detrimental to your self-worth, your sense of self. In retrospect, now I think that they probably didn't even know what they were doing, it was just trying to hurt somebody they wanted to target. But at that time, at sixteen, I remember, I was like, 'I don't wanna live in this country, I wanna go home, I want my mommy.' I called my mom and she was on the next flight over and we went back home. But at that time, I remember feeling profoundly affected by it."
On Quitting a Film When Asked to Perform an Uncomfortable Scene:
"My mom told me when I was nine years old, 'Whatever you do in life, you will be financially independent.' Who says that to a nine-year-old kid? But that was what my parents were, you know. I was told to have an opinion in a room that disagreed with me. My dad said, 'If you don't have an opinion, what's the point of you being here?' I was always encouraged to have a voice. My regret with that incident [walking out of the film] is that I never said anything to the filmmaker. I was so scared. I was new in the entertainment business, and girls are always told, 'You don't want to get a reputation of being hard to work with.' So I worked within the system. And that's my regret, you know: I never stood up to him and said, 'What you did was wrong,' because I was scared. But the only way I knew how to deal with it was to step away from it and have grace under fire. And that's what I did."
In 2012, her first single, 'In My City', was used for an NFL football commercial, and was met with stinging racist comments on social media:
"That was really shocking to me. I didn't see that coming. I was blindsided by that. I was so excited about this first song, I'm working with will.i.am! I was so proud, because I was stepping into American pop culture and I really wanted to be part of mainstream American pop culture. And this was like – what bigger than Thursday night football? And then to hear… I was actually quiet for a couple of days because of a sense of shock that it was so vile, so racist and so public. This was all on social media, it was out there. People were discussing it, people were commenting, people were saying, 'Yay, great!' It threw me for a spin a little bit. But it also, once I found my feet, and the NFL stood by me, fed me to normalise people who look like me in mainstream entertainment. Why was this such a big deal? It shouldn't have been. I'm just a girl singing a song."
On her husband, Nick Jonas:
"I may have judged the book by its cover. I didn't honestly take it very seriously when Nick was texting me. I was thirty-five. I was like, I wanna get married, I wanna have kids. He's in his twenties, I don't know if that's something he'd want to do. I did that to myself for a while, till I actually went out with him. And nothing surprised me more than him: he's such a self-assured man, so sensible, so excited about my achievements, my dreams, such a true partnership that he offers me in everything that we do together, that I truly believe my mom manifested him – because that was her marriage. She had a marriage of partnership: they worked together, they lived together, they built a home together, they built a life together in equal partnership. And I saw that growing up. And I'm just amazed that I found exactly what I grew up with with Nick. I just let it happen!"
"He was just so excited about everything that I did… Like, he's watched The White Tiger six times, he talks about it to all his friends, he's read the book seven times! You know, he's just a champion. He reminds me so much of how my dad used to be. My dad was such a big cheerleader of mine. And now I feel like I'm married to my cheerleader too."
A Sense of Herself:
"From a very young age, I was thrown into different atmospheres: moving schools, going to a different country at twelve years old, being thrown into pageants, being thrown into movies. In the beginning, I used to have to remind myself why I'm in the room. Why am I meeting heads of states? And why am I meeting these really important people? To be able to sit across from someone who has a long list of achievements and still feel like I belong."