Acclaimed Indian actress Priyanka Chopra (Mary Kom, Gunday) has signed a two-year multimillion dollar first-look television deal with Amazon after fighting for more South Asian representation in American television for years, according to Variety. Chopra arrived to California from India just 8 years ago as a huge Bollywood film star with over 60 films to her name.
In 2012, Chopra became the first Bollywood star to be signed by the Critical Artists Agency (CAA) and the following year she made her American film debut in the Disney animated film Planes as a voice actor. Moreover, in 2015, Chopra became the first South Asian female actor to star in a network television series after landing a role on ABC’s Quantico, per Variety. Chopra recalls her childhood hero: Sarah Michelle Gellar (I Know What You Did Last Summer) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in an interview with Variety, “I was like, ‘That’s who I want to be.’ She was an amazing teenage idol. But what if at 13, I had seen someone who looked like me? The only person that I saw at that time who was culturally representative of me was Apu from The Simpsons, and he was played by a white guy, which I found out must later, obviously. But as a teenager, I didn’t see representation of myself in American pop culture or even global pop culture outside of the stereotypical caricatures of South Asians.”
Her current deal with Amazon began with a meeting with Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke who tells Variety, “Priyanka is drawn to exciting original content and the characters that can resonate globally. She’s a powerhouse producer, and we are thrilled to collaborate with her for years to come.” Even before making her current deal, Chopra was already working with her husband, Nick Jonas (Jonas, Camp Rock, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Amazon on two different television projects, including Sangeet, an unscripted series about the Indian pre-wedding tradition which involves families of both sides competing against each other using song and dance, and Citadel, a spy series that will star Chopra and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Bodyguard).
Amazon’s aim in their deal with Chopra is to grow their audience in India. In a report conducted in May, the research firm Media Partners Asia predicts that Amazon will amass 17 million subscribers in India in 2020, following Disney Plus Hotstar which would have 18 million. As Chopra says to Variety, “My quest really is to be able to tell female stories, work with creators from around the world and create a cross-pollination of storytelling. Amazon is such a great partner to do that because their reach and outlook is so global. My Amazon television deal is a global deal, so I can do Hindi language, I can do English language, I can do whatever language I want.”
Throughout her relatively short U.S. career, Chopra’s main goal has been to correct South Asian representation in Hollywood and Hollywood’s treatment of South Asian actors behind the scenes. Chopra’s longtime manager and friend says, “Priyanka’s willingness to challenge the status quo is exactly what global audiences are crying out for, and for this reason alone, she is one of the most unique talents in the landscape right now,” via Variety.