A worldwide sensation, Indian actress and singer Priyanka Chopra has finally staked her claim in the United States with Quantico, the hit ABC drama about recruits in the FBI Academy. As Alex Parrish, Chopra plays a promising agent whose world is turned upside down when she’s framed for a large-scale terrorist attack on New York City. The show feels like a mix between Homeland and Grey’s Anatomy and probably would have a place in ABC’s TGIT lineup if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not a Shonda Rhimes production.
While it’s not always easy for international stars to break into the U.S., for Chopra, the toughest transition has been going from film to TV work. The hours have been grueling, filming a 22-episode order, in addition to mastering an American accent that blends her Indian heritage with her character’s upbringing in Los Angeles, California. Oh yeah, and she also does all her own stunts, with the scars and bruises to prove it. “I wear them like a badge of honor,” Chopra says.
Though, the toughest thing Chopra may have mastered is maintaining an emotional balance amid all the show’s many twists, not getting lost in “shocka” (as she calls it) of it all. One particular scene this season saw one of Alex’s fellow FBI recruits killed in a surprise twist, sending Chopra’s character running as she lost all sense of composure. “That was a very organic scene. We had no lines, just direction,” she recalls. “So, it was very gratifying as an actor.”
“I’ve very fortunate to play a character that has moments like that,” Chopra adds.
The success of the show has quickly made Chopra, who recently won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series, a household name as ABC has practically made her the face of the network. “You know, I never really thought about it until it happened,” the 33-year-old actress says of representing the network, alongside its more established stars like Ellen Pompeo and Kerry Washington. And the fact that she’s Indian is not lost on her: “To get this kind of platform and opportunity, it feels really humbling, I have to be honest.”
Of course, there’s no settling into complacency for the actress. In addition to a second season, Chopra has been cast opposite Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron as the (undoubtedly sexy) villain, Victoria Leeds, in the film adaptation of Baywatch. “She’s a b***h in couture,” she says.
While she doesn’t choose her work based on its location, she’s trying to figure out a balance between Hollywood opportunities while also adding to her long list of credits in Indian Cinema. “I hope in my next hiatus I will be able to do one of each,” she says, referring to next season’s break. “I’m in the process of trying to figure that out.”
In the meantime, Chopra has her sights set on season two of Quantico, excited to see where Alex goes. “She’s grown a lot in season one, so I want to see what is expected of her,” she says, promising even more twists and turns, as if to say there weren’t enough shockas in season one.