Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra moved around with her family as she was growing up, which meant changing schools from place to place. One move brought Priyanka and her family to the United States, where she learned that freedom of expression was extended even to those that didn't deserve it. Ms. Chopra opens up about her experiences with a grade school bully and the importance of chasing one's dreams.
Baywatch Actress Priyanka Chopra Confesses Her Childhood Experience With Bullies
Priyanka is a successful actress, transitioning back and forth between Bollywood and Hollywood projects. Between her starring role on Quantico and her upcoming feature film debut in Baywatch, Ms. Chopra's star is about to get even bigger, but she still hasn't forgotten the humiliation she suffered as a 13 year old girl.
"One girl used to call me Brownie and tell me to go back to my own country," Chopra says. "At lunch I'd get a bag of chips from the vending machine and eat it in the storage room so I wouldn't have to see her."
It was that experience that sent Priyanka running back to India as soon as she was able, which didn't happen until she was 17 years old. When she told her father about the incident, he responded by asking why it was so important for Priyanka to fit in. He pointed out to her that it was our flaws that make us unique individuals. Ms. Chopra says her father's wisdom inspired her and that she has lived by his words ever since. Those words of wisdom led Ms. Chopra to pursue her career in film, starring in 50 Hindi films, before breaking a racial barrier by becoming the first South Asian woman to star in an American T.V. series.
"Don't try to squeeze into a glass slipper," Ms. Chopra says, passing on her own wisdom. "Instead, shatter the glass ceiling."
Priyanka Chopra Says No Child "Should Be Denied A Dream"
The Quantico actress isn't just talk. She puts her money where her mouth is by donating 10 pecent of her earnings toward the education of girls and some boys in India. It came about, when the actress discovered that her family's housekeeper had enrolled her son in school, but not her daughter. Ms. Chopra paid for the girl's education.
That led to the founding of The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education, which receives the percentage of the actress' earnings, so that 70 children, most of them girls, will be able to receive an education.
"Education has always been very important to me," Chopra says of her decision to launch the nonprofit organization. "It means you don't have to depend on anyone else."
Like many girls growing up in India, 20-year-old Rubina Maqbool Ahmed, who is also a recipient of Ms. Chopra's generosity, says her family pushed her to find a husband. Instead of spending money on an education, many families will seek to marry their daughters off.
Priyanka says she was fortunate to have had a father with different values. As she was growing up, Ms. Chopra recalls that her own family encouraged her to pursue an education and to follow her dreams. The actress acknowledges that she experienced something rare in India, but she wants to do what she can to even things up for the girls currently growing up in her homeland.
"(He) instilled confidence in me, and that doesn't happen for so many kids," Priyanka said. "I can't eradicate poverty, but at least for the people around me, I can help make sure no child is denied a dream."
The next episode of Quantico, starring Josh Hopkins and Priyanka Chopra, will air on Sunday, March 20 on ABC.
[Image by Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images]