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I don’t carry my ego or my pride: Priyanka Chopra Jonas on her global success

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MUMBAI: Why haven’t other Indian stars done it? That’s the question Priyanka Chopra Jonas says she is asked all the time and one to which she has no ready answer other than the fact that she left the baggage of being a Bollywood star when she crossed over to the West.

The former Miss World, arguably the only mainstream Indian actor to make it big in the American entertainment industry, is now fronting the global spy series “Citadel”.

“People ask me all the time, why haven’t other people done it? Why haven’t other actors from India broken the way you’ve broken? I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that the one thing that I did, which maybe led to it, was I didn’t carry my baggage,” Priyanka told PTI in an interview during a recent visit to India.

“I come from India and I’m a big star here, and I have an entourage of 20 people. I don’t do that (there). I will give an audition. I have no qualms in walking into the room and showing people my work. I’m not afraid of the work. I don’t carry my ego or my pride,” she added.

The 40-year-old decided to explore Hollywood at the peak of her career in the Hindi film industry around 2011-2012. She began as a singer with the single “In My City” and went on to feature as the lead in the American TV show “Quantico” and played the antagonist in the film “Baywatch”. Most recently, she was seen in “The Matrix Resurrections” alongside Keanu Reeves.

The actor said it took her eight years of building her “credibility” with “smaller roles and movies” to finally reach a position where she is getting opportunities with big names such as “The Matrix” creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski and “Avengers: Infinity War” duo Joe and Anthony Russo, who have produced “Citatdel”.

“I’ve been a leading lady for a very long time, whether that’s in Hollywood or in Bollywood. I consider myself a leading lady. It takes time to get there. It took me about eight years working in Hollywood to be able to do leading parts,” the actor said.

In her 20-years in the Hindi film industry, she has starred in films such as “Kaminey”, “7 Khoon Maaf”, “Barfi”, “Bajirao Mastani” and “Dil Dhadakne Do”.

Be it Hollywood or Bollywood, the nature of the “beast” that the entertainment industry is remains the same, start with “smaller roles and movies” and build your “credibility”, Priyanka said.

“And I had to do the same thing when I joined Bollywood… That’s just how the industry works. And I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid of perseverance, but when you finally get there and when you watch your work then it’s like ‘I did it again’.”

She was in India to promote “Citadel”, which will be seen on Prime Video and is backed by Russo Brothers’ AGBO banner. The show also features “Game of Thrones” actor Richard Madden and veteran Hollywood star Stanley Tucci. It follows elite agents Mason Kane (Richard) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka), who had their memories wiped as they narrowly escaped with their lives after the fall of independent global spy agency Citadel.

Russo Brothers approached Priyanka with the idea of “Citadel” five years ago. It was shot for over a year and a half during the pandemic, making the whole process “emotionally draining and physically demanding”.

“It was taxing… I’m not even going to say it was lots of fun… The show required us to be in good physical shape. To be able to do all the physical stunts that we needed to do. And it’s not easy to go to the gym every single day to do stunt training, five-six times a week for a full year and a half… And I don’t like going to the gym at all.

“Doing all that was physically taxing anyway and then we were away from our families. We were in a bubble. We couldn’t meet friends. We only had each other, which was the crew and cast. That can be emotionally very difficult.”

Juggling between two major film industries hasn’t been a cakewalk, the National Award-winning actor said.

“I’ve found a really beautiful work-life balance. I’m not someone who overworks myself anymore… I used to burn the candle on both ends. Now I have a sense of I need time, my team needs time, people need to sleep, we need to eat. There was a time where I would go without sleep, food for days and it didn’t matter. But my priorities have shifted.”

The actor, who got married to American singer Nick Jonas in 2018 and welcomed her first child Malti Marie Chopra Jonas in 2021, said it is important for her to spend time with her family now.

“It’s very important for me to have time with my family and to be able to finish working in the evening and go back home and actually have just time for myself. I go away for the weekends. So I don’t feel perennially exhausted,” she added.

“Citadel”, produced by AGBO and Amazon Studios, will premiere on Prime Video globally on April 28. (PTI)

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