Indian multi-award-winning actress Priyanka Chopra is the definition of the self-made modern woman. She has successfully managed to cross over from Bollywood to Hollywood, becoming the first Indian actress to lead an American drama series. She is also well known for her immersion in various philanthropic projects and has over the years established herself as one of the most influential people in both her industry and beyond.
Born in 1982, she initially aspired to become an aeronautical engineer for NASA. She once explained: "I didn’t know I could be an actor. I didn’t know that it was a professional choice that could be made. I come from a very academic family. My parents are both physicians so I was expected to go into academics. I was smart. I wanted to be an engineer.”
But the entertainment business took her by storm. She first entered the modelling industry and eventually won the Miss World pageant in 2000, before getting movie offers in India. She broke into Bollywood in 2003 with the film ‘The Hero: Love Story of a Spy,’ leading her to become an icon in the genre.
Her first exposure to the international entertainment market came when she played the role of Alex Parrish in the ABC thriller show Quantico, which aired from 2015 to 2018. At that time, most Americans had no idea she was already a star in her home country. Soon she became a household name on an international level, and she has now acted in over 70 films and TV shows.
Amid her prolific career in entertainment, she has also been a fierce activist for issues like women’s rights, education, poverty, and hunger, and has worked with UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador. She also created the Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education, which provides education and medical help to underprivileged children.
“To be a philanthropist, you don't have to be Nelson Mandela. You just have to look around you and ask, 'What little bit can I do? Whose life can I touch?” she once said. More recently, she set up a fundraiser with NGO GiveIndia to raise money for India to help address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Her career path is the perfect example of someone having embraced all the opportunities she was given, working hard to becoming a global icon but never taking her success for granted. “My career is the sum of the decisions I have made. Everyone can work hard, but I work on my own terms. I stand my ground, and once I have committed to anything, I give my 150 percent. I don't take my work for granted, ever. I know that, forget me, no matter where anyone is, everyone is dispensable. Why would I think I am indispensable then?” she said.