Priyanka Chopra may be riding a wave of international success, but she didn’t get there overnight. Born to two physicians in the Indian Army, she spent most of her childhood hopping between cities like many army kids. She lived in Lucknow, Delhi, Chandigarh, Bareilly and Pune before leaving for the States as a teenager, where she studied in various public schools. Following this, she decided to return to India and prepare to become a successful engineer or a psychologist. Even then, she had entertained the thought of becoming a ‘performer’.
“I believe destiny and hard work go hand in hand. I was studying to be an engineer when my mom and my brother sent my pictures for the Miss India contest. I didn’t even know about it. If that isn’t destiny, what is?” she once stated in a press conference.
Priyanka’s first array into fame happened when she was selected among the Femina Miss India Contestants to represent India in the Miss World pageant, where she was crowned ‘Miss World 2000’. It was this event that marked the end of her conventional aspirations in favour of a far more glamorous one.
Image : wikipedia
“I feel that I am destiny’s favourite child. I have made sure that whatever opportunity comes my way, I give my heart and soul to it. So the credit of my work goes only and solely to me because I am the one who stands in front of the camera between action and cuts and nobody else does,” she said in an interview with The Indian Express.
Although Priyanka’s debut in the film industry began with the Tamil film Thamizan, her real break came with Anil Sharma’s The Hero in 2003 – her first step into the Bollywood jungle. Then, in 2004, she began to scratch the surface with two films, Aitraaz and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. And then, in 2008, she received critical acclaim for her role of Meghna Mathur in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Out of her comfort zone, Priyanka owned the role of a small-town girl getting caught in the decadence of the fashion industry. It was the first time the world saw her full potential.
Following Fashion, she unleashed a series of stellar performances in movies like Dostana, 7 Khoon Maaf, Barfi, Mary Kom and Bajirao Mastani. Gearing back on the safety-seat of Bollywood, Priyanka now turned her attention across the oceans. She toed the line of international success with her hit-tracks In My City in 2012, with Will.I.Am and Exotic in 2013, with Pitbull. However, her real break came in 2015 with her lead role as Alex Parrish, an FBI agent and terror suspect, in ABC’s thriller series Quantico. As the series gained vast viewership, Priyanka was applauded for her fearless play-out of the role and became a popular face among fans outside India. Her next nose-dive into ‘Tinseltown’ was her role as Victoria Leeds in Seth Gordon’s Baywatch, which is set to release in May, 2017. This will feature her playing alongside heavy-hitters like Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.
“What I am enjoying is people discovering me. They are discovering and saying, ‘What is the fuss around this girl, why are people standing outside to see her shooting in Montreal? Let’s go and Google her and then they Google me and find out who I am,” she said.
While Priyanka is taking the two worlds of Hollywood and Bollywood by storm, she has never wavered from her goals to help change the world for the better. Although she doesn’t appreciate much publicity regarding her social work, Priyanka has reportedly been involved in many active campaigns regarding education, health and women empowerment. In 2010, she was appointed a UNICEF National Ambassador, tasked specifically with promoting child rights and adolescence. Among the key UNICEF campaigns that Priyanka has been actively involved in, the one she placed maximum efforts on was ‘Deepshikha’, which “aims at strengthening adolescent and young women’s groups through imparting to members life skills, enterprise skills and networking skill training.”
According to the official website of UNICEF, the Deepshikha campaign has helped 65,000 girls and young women in the state of Maharashtra develop entrepreneurial skills and build self-confidence through financial education and leadership training.
Priyanka has also been involved in campaigns like ‘Awaaz Do’, which advocates the cause of every child’s entitlement to free schooling through the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, and ‘Dare to Care’, which urges supporters to get actively involved and demand the rights for adolescent girls across the country especially those who are excluded and marginalised. She has also pooled in time and resources into ‘End Violence against Children’, a campaign to raise awareness about the physical and mental abuse being meted out to children, and ‘WAVE’, a social organisation working against women violence.
Stressing on the importance of education for all individuals and relaying the importance of the girl-child, she says, “Being a known face is, definitely, a plus point. As actors, we have a fan following and if you can put that to good use to garner support for a cause, then why not? In fact, I think more public figures should be out there, standing up for causes they believe in.”
“Being a known face is, definitely, a plus point. As actors, we have a fan following and if you can put that to good use to garner support for a cause, then why not? In fact, I think more public figures should be out there, standing up for causes they believe in.”
As she turns 34, we salute Priyanka Chopra for becoming an inspiration for woman across all borders by daring to test boundaries and achieving a lifetime’s worth so very young. Happy birthday, Priyanka!
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)