Priyanka Chopra has opened up about the shocking moment a film director suggested she should undergo plastic surgery as a teenager, after taking home the Miss World crown.
The Bollywood legend – who has starred in countless TV shows and films around the world – won the beauty pageant in 2000, and promptly embarked on a screen career.
However, the first person she met with suggested that that she should have a ‘boob job’ and fix her ‘proportions’ – something her then-manager agreed with.
The 38-year-old initially discussed her experience in her new autobiography, Unfinished – and insisted to Metro.co.uk that it is a ‘normalised’ thing to hear in the industry.
‘After a few minutes of small talk, the director/producer told me to stand up and twirl for him. I did. He stared at me long and hard, assessing me, and then suggested that I get a boob job, fix my jaw, and add a little more cushioning to my butt,’ she wrote in the book.
‘If I wanted to be an actress, he said, I’d need to have my proportions “fixed,” and he knew a great doctor in LA he could send me to. My then-manager voiced his agreement with the assessment.
‘I left the director/producer’s office feeling stunned and small. Was he right that I couldn’t be successful unless I had so many body parts “fixed”? I thought of how individuals in the media and others in the industry had referred to me as “dusky” and “different-looking,” and I wondered if I was cut out for this business after all.’
Thankfully, she didn’t listen and parted ways with her then-manager soon after.
Recalling the terrible situation she found herself in, Priyanka told us that it was seen as ‘normal’ in the industry – and she was encouraged to stay quiet for the sake of her future career.
‘It’s so normalised that it doesn’t come up in conversation. I talked about a movie that I walked out of because of how I was spoken to by the director,’ she said. ‘It was early in my career, but I never told him why I walked out.
‘I never had the courage to stand up for myself, and actually admit it. Because I heard so often, “Don’t be a nuisance, you’re new in the industry, you don’t want to have a reputation that you cause trouble or you’re not easy to work with” Now on the other side of 35. I know that’s a normalised thing that girls hear so often.
‘I fell for it too, even though I consider myself a forward-thinking, smart girl. I learned from that over time, but at that time, I was terrified.
‘Yes I faced that then, I faced that like everybody else when you’re in patriarchal industries, which ours has been for a very long time.’
Priyanka also heralded a special time in the industry, with more women taking their careers into their own hands and doing things in their own way now.
She continued: ‘I’ve mentioned a bunch of female producers in the book that I really admire, who’ve taken charge of their own lives and said, “Alright, you’re not going to make a part for me or the movie that I want to be in, I’m going to produce it myself.”
‘We see so many women that have banded together to be able to do it ourselves and [are] taking back our power. Now we’re seeing, we are that generation that is hopefully going to see women in leadership roles, that is going to see women in roles of power, so that the next generation that comes after us doesn’t have to inherit these issues.
‘That’s our job. We need to take that seriously and we can only do that ourselves by being an example of what a possibility could be.
‘If I had seen somebody else on TV, kicking ass… The show I did, Quantico, I was the first South Asian to ever [front] a network TV show, in 2015. It was crazy to think about that. To me, if I had had that, maybe I wouldn’t have been so insecure in the hallways of my high school, or felt that I was so different.’
And what would she tell her younger self now?
‘That I’m proud of you. I would say that there’s always going to be times in my life, just like everyone else’s life, where we do have to put a brave face [on],’ she added. ‘Life surprises you, life has the ability to surprise you when you think you’re so prepared.
‘And I think it’s really important to be brave, it’s important to have your principles and your values in check. It’s very important to have integrity and what you stand for.
‘I would definitely tell my younger self that I’m proud of her for having navigated some really tumultuous waters and come out on the other side to be able to tell the story.’
Unfinished will be released on February 11, and Priyanka will also be taking part in a virtual book launch on that same day – with tickets starting from £5.
Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra Jonas is published by Michael Joseph on February 11, £20, Hardback.
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