‘She’s the wrong physicality’
Priyanka Chopra is one of the most influential women in film, taking both Hollywood and Bollywood by storm, and starring in projects from Bajiro Mastani to 2017’s Baywatch remake.
But according to the 35-year-old star, her Hollywood acting career has not been without its challenges, discriminated against for not only the fact that she’s a woman, but also because she’s an Indian woman.
In a recent interview with InStyle, Priyanka opened up about the roles that she had lost out on because of her skin colour – yes racial discrimination is alive and well in Hollywood and it’s shocking.
‘It happened last year,’ Priyanka recalled. ‘I was out for a movie, and somebody [from the studio] called one of my agents and said, “She’s the wrong” — what word did they used?— “physicality.”’
She continued: ‘So in my defence as an actor, I’m like, “Do I need to be skinnier? Do I need to get in shape? Do I need to have abs?” Like, what does “wrong physicality” mean?’
Priyanka then explained how she was told the truth. ‘And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, “I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.” It affected me.’
And even if you get the part, you will still face discrimination, with Priyanka explaining, ‘No one will say that a woman is getting paid less because she’s a woman of colour, but the numbers mostly end up reflecting that.’
‘It happens at the casting level. There are not enough meaty, strong lead roles for women where we don’t have to compromise on every level just to get the best job’, she explained. ‘I think one of the big steps is to first of all recognise it. I see a lot of people explaining why the pay gap exists. Producers have told me, “Well, when you have even the biggest actress in a movie, it still doesn’t make the returns that it would if you cast a guy.”’