“Quantico” star Priyanka Chopra has made it big in Hollywood, but the Indian actress revealed that because of her skin color, she hasn’t always been welcome in the entertainment industry.
Chopra, in an interview with InStyle published on Tuesday, told a story of discrimination she faced just last year, losing a chance for a movie role because she’s an actress of color.
“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 told InStyle. “And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’”
Chopra said the incident “affected” her.
The actress, who also holds a Miss World title from 2000, said the issue of skin color extends to pay.
“No one will say that a woman is getting paid less because she’s a woman of color, but the numbers mostly end up reflecting that,” she said.
The enormous pay gap experienced by women of color in Hollywood has plagued the industry for some time. A list of 2017′s highest paid actresses includes not a single woman of color. Taraji P. Henson revealed in her book Around the Way Girl: A Memoir that she was paid less than 2 percent of what Brad Pitt made for “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.” What’s more, Henson had to pay for three months of hotel expenses out of her own pocket.
Chopra said movie audiences need to support the work of strong women in order to combat the pay gap.
“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 told InStyle. “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. Specifically how men can help is changing the ‘locker-room talk’ conversation. Nothing will change until we break the stereotypes of gender in our normal, day-to-day life.”
Chopra has acknowledged skin color once was a sensitive subject for her as she struggled with insecurities.
“Everyone in America wants to get a tan, and everyone in Asia wants to get their skin lightened. I straddle both countries,” she told Allure last year. “Girls there are told that they’re too dark or dusky and that lighter skin is better. Because I’m a darker tone, I had issues growing up as a teenager.”
Because of her own experiences, Chopra said all people have a responsibility to show young girls that skin color should not be a hindrance.
“It’s so primitive that people are judged on the basis of the color of their skin. I mean, it’s skin. We all have it,” she said.