Priyanka Chopra Says She Once Left the U.S. for India Because of Bullying: 'She Made My Life Hell'
By Tina Smithers Peckham
Priyanka Chopra is opening up about her painful teenage years.
The beautiful Baywatch star is on the cover of Glamour's June issue, where she addresses a trying time during her childhood, as well as what it's like being one of the few well-known Indian actors in the United States.
"There was this girl who was a major bully. I think she didn't like me because her boyfriend liked me, or some high school dynamic," Chopra says of her experience in the eleventh grade. "She made my life hell. She used to call me names and would push me against the locker."
The 34-year-old actress admits that it eventually pushed her to finish high school back home in India.
"High school's hard for everybody, and then there's this woman," she says. "I asked my mom, 'What do you think about me coming back?' She flew down and picked me up."
Chopra also says that it was challenging growing up in the U.S. as an Indian because many people simply don't understand the culture.
"I don't think a lot of people understand what Indians are. And that's our fault, a little," she confesses. "We tend to forget our roots a bit. As kids [we think], 'If I'm too Indian, I'll be put in a box, and people will think of me as different. They'll think I'm weird, because I eat Indian food or my name is difficult to pronounce.' That girl in school used to call me 'curry.' You're scared of those things. We're afraid of letting people see the glory of who we are."
She adds that her "dusky" skin color exacerbated her teenage insecurities, saying that skin-lightening creams are heavily advertised in India.
"A lot of girls who have darker skin hear things like, 'Oh, poor thing, she's dark. It'll be hard for her,'" Chopra says. "When I was an actor, around my early twenties, I did a commercial for a skin-lightening cream. I was playing that girl with insecurities. And when I saw it, I was like, 'Oh shit. What did I do?' And I started talking about being proud of the way I looked. I actually really like my skin tone."
The star of ABC's Quantico adds that she no longer gets "offended" by those who don't get it.
"I used to get offended by things that were said to me, or how I was seen. Now I educate. If I get pissed off, I’ll educate in a sassy way. You know — I have my moods," she laughs. "So once, on an airplane [in Europe], I went up to go to the bathroom, and the [flight attendant] was like, 'Oh, the bathroom’s back there.' And I was like, 'No, it's right there.' He was like, 'Oh, that’s just for first class.' I was like, 'I'm sitting in first class.' And he was like, 'Oh my God, I'm so sorry.' And I just said, 'It’s OK. I'm sure you haven't seen many of us, but a lot of us travel first class.'"
As for her villainous role in Baywatch, Chopra says she enjoyed playing the bitch boss.
"There's this amazing line in the [script]: Zac [Efron] says, 'You're such a bitch!' And I'm like, 'If I were a man, you'd call me driven,'" she says. "Victoria goes into an evil territory; not every driven woman's evil. [But] ambition is a word associated with women negatively. People say, 'She’s too ambitious.' Why is that a bad thing?”
Baywatch his theaters May 25. Watch the video below for more on Chopra's role in the big-screen version of the popular television show.