Priyanka Chopra Says Racist Bullying Made Her Leave the U.S.
The 38-year-old actor had to regain her confidence after being bullied in American high school.
Priyanka Chopra's life might seem perfect to some—worldwide star, happily married—but she experienced tough times getting to where she is today. In her new memoir, Unfinished, Chopra writes about the racist bullying she experienced as a teen when she moved from India to the United States. In a new interview with People, Chopra talked further about this traumatic experience she describes in her book, which hits shelves on Feb. 9.
Chopra moved from India to the U.S. when she was 12 years old to live with extended family. Then, within the U.S., she moved from New York City to Indianapolis to Newton, Massachusetts. It was in Newton that the bullying got so bad for Chopra that she decided to move back to India.
Read on to see what Chopra had to say about her teenage life and about how she learned to heal. And for more celebrity news, check out Serena Williams' Husband Defends Her Against Body Shaming Comment.
The racist bullying came from other teenagers.
By the time Chopra moved to Massachusetts and began attending high school there, she had been in the U.S. for three years. As reported by People, in Unfinished, Chopra writes that other students said things like "Brownie, go back to your country!" and "Go back on the elephant you came on." She tried to ignore them or get help from a guidance counselor, but it wasn't enough.
"I took it very personally. Deep inside, it starts gnawing at you," the 38-year-old actor told People. "I went into a shell. I was like, 'Don't look at me. I just want to be invisible.' My confidence was stripped. I've always considered myself a confident person, but I was very unsure of where I stood, of who I was."
For more on Chopra's teenage years, check out Priyanka Chopra Just Shared an Adorable Throwback of Herself at 17.
She has a different perspective on the situation as an adult.
"I don't even blame the city, honestly," Chopra told People. "I just think it was girls who, at that age, just want to say something that'll hurt. Now, at the other side of 35, I can say that it probably comes from a place of them being insecure. But at that time, I took it very personally."
Chopra previously spoke about being bullied in a 2019 interview with the Associated Press. At that time she said she made a conscious decision to not let the bullying ruin her life. "I really decided that I’m not going to feel like that anymore," she said. "But it took that innate sense of self, which I think was created in me through my parents. It took my upbringing and my environment to create that."
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She regained her confidence in India, and her career followed.
At 15 years old, Chopra decided to move back to India to live once again with her mother and father. "I was so blessed that when I went back to India, I was surrounded by so much love and admiration for who I was," Chopra said. "Going back to India healed me after that experience in high school."
She went on to participate in activities in school in India, including acting. "[That] built my confidence, having made new friends who were amazing and loving and doing actual teenage things," she told People. "Going to parties, having crushes, dating, all the things, the normal stuff. It just built me up."
It wasn't long after that Chopra won the Miss World pageant. Then, she became a Bollywood actor. Her big crossover to American audiences came when she began staring on the ABC show Quantico in 2015.
Now, Chopra has advice for others going through hard times.
Whether it's following bullying or something else entirely, Chopra shared her advice for others dealing with insecurity.
"Insecurity becomes small as soon as you talk about it with someone you trust: A therapist, a counselor. I feel like a lot of people spend their time when they're feeling dark [in isolation]. That's the worst thing to do, is to feel sad alone," Chopra told People. "We have the choice, most of the time, to step out of the darkness ourselves. The best way I've found of doing it is talking to people who care."
And for more on Chopra's marriage to Nick Jonas, check out 27 Celebrity Couples With Huge Age Gaps.