Priyanka Chopra Jonas knows her dad would've loved Nick Jonas. In her new memoir, Unfinished, the 38-year-old actress reveals that she always wanted a relationship like that of her parents, specifically a man who'd treat her how her father, Ashok, did her mother, Madhu.
"Often at home and especially at parties, dad would put on the charm -- he would sing to mom, recite poetry for her, completely and utterly embarrass her," she writes. "He was creative and romantic and thoughtful, and I dreamed of having a relationship just like theirs, one of true partnership, and of romance, poetry, and music."
That dream came true in 2018, when Priyanka began her relationship with her now-husband, Nick. She was unable to share the joy of that discovery with her father, though, as he died in 2013 after a battle with cancer.
In an interview with ET's Rachel Smith, Priyanka says that her dad's death meant that her "biggest champion" and "biggest cheerleader" was suddenly gone. The experience left her with a great amount of grief for years. With Nick, though, she ushered in a new phase of life.
"I was just riding this giant wave. [Nick] was this tornado that kind of just took over my life. Up until then, I was coming in and out of a very tumultuous time in my life. I just moved to the US. I was kind of sad. I was dealing with a lot of grief," she tells ET. "He just came into my life at a point where I had chosen me. I was happier. I was healthier. I was in a great state of mind. He was like a hurricane and I just kind of went with it."
Priyanka and Nick had a whirlwind romance, which culminated in a December 2018 wedding. While her father's death loomed large over the big day, Priyanka still managed to feel him there, just moments before she walked down the aisle.
"I closed my eyes and took a moment to talk to the one person I knew could calm me. 'I wish you were here, dad,' I said. 'I hope I’m doing the right thing,'" she writes. "And then the curtain opened and I saw Nick’s face. I saw his eyes. My doubts lifted and I knew, absolutely, that in walking toward Nick, I was walking toward the man I wanted to create my future with."
In fact, Priyanka writes, she has "no doubt" that her father was not only present at her wedding, but "had a hand" in pulling off the quickly planned nuptials that were made up of "a number of minor miracles."
Still though, Priyanka missed her father.
"He would have been in his element for the entire three-day celebration," she writes. "He would have sat and jammed with Nick and been the life of the party, the consummate host. It was one of his life’s dreams to see me happy like that, to see me with someone who understood, respected, and treasured me, someone who grounded me and made me laugh."
"The fact that Nick was a musician would have been the icing on the wedding cake," Priyanka continues. "I can imagine dad taking his new son-in-law by the shoulders and saying, 'All right, come on, let’s sing a song!' and Nick, being his own understated self, nodding and smiling a little smile and just going with it. I would have loved to have seen that."
Priyanka has no doubt that her dad would've approved of, not only her husband, but also her life in general.
"I think he'd be very happy for the place I'm in right now. He always wished for me to feel a sense of contentment and I do," she tells ET. "I feel a sense of self at the moment with myself professionally, where I am, the work that I'm doing, the work that I'm creating, and that's my big baby. My career has been my greatest rock in my whole life."
"... I feel like I'm at a place where I have faith in my ability, what I bring to the table. I think my dad would've been really happy about that," she adds. "The fact that I have a partner who not only appreciates it, but pushes that side of me, I think my dad would've really loved that."
As for her husband, Priyanka has an unwavering faith in him. "I have a lot of faith in the rock that he is for our family," she tells ET. "That's such a great feeling, to be able to lean on someone and know that they’ve got you."
Since their wedding, the couple has been focused on moving into their home and picking out furniture, the latter of which falls squarely on Nick's shoulders.
"We had a great time building this house. We're still in the process of it... It was a blessing during quarantine to be able to do things like pick cushions and decide where the dining table is going to go," she tells ET. "... [Nick] just has an aesthetic for [decorating]. He's just so refined in his tastes. I don't want to mess with a good thing."
While they don't have kids just yet, Priyanka writes that she and Nick "hope to create" their own family in the future. When they do, she knows who she'll be turning to for inspiration.
"Each of my parents is an example of the kind of parent I want to be someday," she writes in Unfinished. "One who sees their child as an individual, someone to be raised to live their own life thoughtfully, intelligently, independently, and empathetically."
Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra Jonas is out now. Tune in to Tuesday's episode of Entertainment Tonight to see more of ET's interview with Priyanka.