What You Don't Know About Priyanka Chopra

Actor, entrepreneur, singer, producer, ambassador — the list of Priyanka Chopra's accomplishments just doesn't seem to end. The 40-year-old, who hails from India and gained renown in the United States most notably in 2015 with the thriller show "Quantico," has emerged as one of the world's most famous celebrities in recent years. In Forbes' list of the highest paid female television stars globally in 2017, Chopra ranked No. 8 with $10 million in annual earnings. That's quite a leap, considering her first assignment in showbiz paid just Rs. 5000, or $63 (per GQ India).

Today, besides being an actor with influential work to speak of in both Hollywood and Bollywood (India's mainstream Hindi film industry), Chopra is also the proud founder of a haircare brand and an Indian-themed restaurant in New York (via Cosmopolitan). And yet, there's so much still that she wants to do: "I want to be able to unravel as an artist onscreen, I want to work under the tutelage of really brilliant minds. And I want to be pushed," she told Vanity Fair. Here's a look at what makes Chopra the woman and artist she is.

She hails from a small industrial city in India

She is a global superstar today, a household name across continents, and a woman of the world. But Priyanka Chopra's earliest roots lie in a tiny city tucked away in northeastern India — and it's a part of her identity she is not shy about invoking every so often. Chopra was born in Jamshedpur — a major industrial hub of India, per Britannica — in the state of Jharkhand. Her parents were both Army doctors whose work kept them moving through different parts of India (via News18). Chopra also spent some formative years of her youth in cities like Bareilly and Lucknow. The now California-based actor has recalled her childhood as being "quite an adventure," per The Indian Express).

Always with a nostalgic word to say about her home country on the world stage, Chopra delighted many fans when she mentioned her birthplace on the Oscars red carpet in 2016 (via The New Paper). By a stroke of cosmic chance, the host interviewing Chopra said she had worked in "the Steel City" for a bit, to which a surprised Chopra replied: "I was born in Jamshedpur ... It is a beautiful town."

Priyanka was crowned Miss World at 18 years old

Priyanka Chopra was Miss World before the world was even acquainted with her acting skills. The Indian diva's first step into showbiz wasn't through films, but in beauty pageants that she competed in during her teens. In a feat that paved her way to eventual stardom, Chopra emerged as the winner of the national Miss India pageant in 2000, and went on to be crowned Miss World on the international stage later that year, per NDTV. The latter honor marked the fifth time an Indian woman had won the pageant. Reminiscing on social media two decades later, Chopra recalled the first thing her mother said to her when she won: "Babe, what's going to happen with your studies?" 

To Chopra, it wasn't beauty that brought her the win: "I thought my strengths were my eloquence, the way I think, confidence. I can talk to anyone," she told The Guardian. As the story goes, Chopra was set on a career in aeronautical engineering, and her name was apparently entered into the first pageant without her knowledge. Her 10-year-old brother urged their mother to send in his sister's photos for Miss India — in a hilarious bid to get Chopra out of the house so he could have a room of his own (via The Guardian).

Pickles are her one true companion everywhere she goes

Priyanka Chopra wears her pride in her Indian culture on her sleeve. The "Quantico" star, who shuttles across the world for work, keeps her home country close with a few essentials that go everywhere with her: her temple, her mother, and her pickles. "You can take me out of India, but you can't take India out of me. My culture or me being who I am just sort of goes with me in a bubble wherever I am," she said in an interview (via The Indian Express). In fact, Chopra's love for homemade achaar — a staple flavorful companion to meals in the Indian subcontinent (via MasterClass) — transcends cuisines. The actor once revealed that she relishes authentic mango pickles, even with cheese sandwiches.

Chopra has built something of a mini-India within the lavish California property she shares with her husband Nick Jonas, having celebrated major Indian festivals, including Holi and Diwali, at her home. "My beautiful wife has introduced me to so many wonderful Indian holidays and traditions," Jonas, who also took part in the religious festivities on Diwali in 2021, shared on Instagram. Chopra doesn't shy away from embracing her Indian culture in all its glory — even on the glitziest of red carpets, she has greeted crowds with the traditional namaste, as she did at Cannes in 2019 (via NDTV). 

Priyanka Chopra faced racism in the US as a teen

Priyanka Chopra's connection to the United States goes back a long time, years before she stepped foot in Hollywood. The "Baywatch" beauty spent some time away from home in India as an adolescent, making her way to the U.S. for schooling when she was 12. She lived with her extended family in places like New York City and Massachusetts, per People. But life wasn't always the easiest for Chopra. As a brown-skinned girl in America, she faced racism as a teen, being asked by classmates (as told to Vogue): "Do you ride elephants and cows to school?" Chopra revealed that she felt stripped of her confidence after being bullied for her identity: "I went into a shell. ... I was very unsure of where I stood, of who I was," she told People.

Though she eventually came into her own as a well-recognized celebrity, prejudicial treatment has continued to hound Chopra. Following the release of her first single "In My City" in 2012, Chopra says she was targeted with disturbing slurs online, as detailed in her tell-all memoir "Unfinished" (via Outlook India). Marrying American singer Nick Jonas only exaggerated the negative attention, with one particularly controversial viral article allegedly suggesting she "trapped" Jonas into marriage for ulterior motives (via the BBC). Nevertheless, Chopra continues to maintain pride in her status as an ambassador for her homeland: "It's something I'll continue doing as long as I can" (per Vogue). 

She is good friends with former royal Meghan Markle

Before Meghan Markle became a royal, she became Priyanka Chopra's friend. The former Duchess of Sussex has been in Chopra's ambit since at least January 2016, when they first crossed paths at a party hosted by Elle, per the magazine. The two women had nothing but mutual praise for the other's work — while Chopra was riding high on the fame of her television show "Quantico" at the time, Markle was a household name with the series "Suits." In an interview that year, Markle gushed about Chopra being "unbelievable" and how the pair naturally clicked: "I would love to work with her on a film one day," Markle said (via The Indian Express). 

Social media selfies and pool dates soon led to Chopra being invited to Markle and Prince Harry's opulent royal wedding in 2018. However, rumors of a rift between the two actors surfaced after Markle's no-show at Chopra's own wedding later that year, per Vanity Fair. Chopra's absence from Markle's baby shower was also marked, with Page Six sources alleging that Chopra felt disrespected. On several occasions since, Chopra has appeared to rubbish such claims of animosity: "No, it's not true," she said in 2019 when asked about it on Andy Cohen's show. In 2021, she even dropped a sweet birthday wish for Markle, who named Chopra as one of 40 friends chosen to push the cause of female employment.

Both of her parents served in the Indian Army

Priyanka Chopra has often cited her parents as being her life's inspiration — a tribute that seemingly extends to how she continues to service her home country of India. The "Citadel" actor's parents, Dr. Madhu Chopra and the late Dr. Ashok Chopra, both served as doctors in the Indian Army. On Memorial Day in 2020, Chopra commemorated them with an old picture that showed them in uniform, writing that she felt "a kinship with military families all over the world." 

Chopra's father, who served in the Armed Forces as a physician, passed away in 2013 at the age of 62 from cancer (via The Indian Express). Beyond the Army, Chopra described her father as "a free-thinking creative, a musician, and an artist" (via the Tatler). Chopra, who said she loved "following [her] dad around the house dressed in his Army uniform," has called him her idol (via Instagram). Dr. Madhu, on the other hand, apparently "ran away from home to pursue her dream job" as a doctor in the army, per Chopra. While she spent a considerable part of her career serving in the Army, she eventually pursued training in cosmetic surgery. She heads up Studio Asthetique, a clinic in Mumbai, India that she reportedly founded with her husband in 2008. In 2016, she became a film producer with Purple Pebble Pictures, a company she co-founded with Chopra, per the official website.

Priyanka ended up with a botched nose after a surgery

Priyanka Chopra has one of the most famous faces in showbiz. However, one of her features has always attracted scrutiny: her nose. For years, rumor mills have churned out gossip that Chopra went under the knife to get her nose cosmetically changed, even leading to the actor being derisively nicknamed Plastic Chopra (via Entertainment Tonight). While she refrained from addressing the subject publicly for the better part of her career, the 40-year-old broke her silence on the issue in her memoir "Unfinished," writing that her changed nose was the result of a surgery gone wrong. 

Chopra revealed that a doctor accidentally shaved off the bridge of her nose during a surgery meant to remove a polyp from her nasal cavity. This happened not long after she was crowned Miss World in 2000, reportedly causing Chopra to lose out on work at the start of her film career, according to the Hindustan Times. In her book, Chopra narrates another incident wherein a filmmaker suggested she "get a boob job" and get her other "proportions fixed" (via The Independent). On why she chose to open up about these personal anecdotes from her past, Chopra said she wasn't "offering any form of clarification. It's a story of my life from my eyes" (as quoted by India Today). 

As an international Indian icon, she has many firsts to her credit

As one of the first true global stars from India, Priyanka Chopra is recognized as a pioneer. In 2013, the film actor made history as a "Guess girl" when she was chosen as the luxury brand's first-ever Indian face. Along with singer Bryan Adams, who photographed her, Chopra made a splash in the United States with a classic vintage-style campaign that reflected a "young Sophia Loren" vibe (via Women's Wear Daily). She marked her place again in 2019 as the first Bollywood actor to have statues at four Madame Tussauds wax museums worldwide, per Vogue. From film festivals to magazine covers, Chopra has graced them all. 

She also received standout acclaim for her American television series "Quantico," which premiered in 2015. As Forbes noted, it was the first time that a South Asian actor led a network drama in the U.S. Chopra, who said she "wanted to be taken seriously as an actor and not for the color of [her] skin," starred as FBI agent Alex Parrish on the ABC thriller, which ran until 2018. As she continues to make India proud, Chopra also hopes to widen the scope of Hollywood with her presence: "I hope that the part that I play in it will sort of push the envelope a little bit," she told Vanity Fair

A special tribute to Priyanka's dad is tattooed on her hand

Priyanka Chopra remains a daddy's girl — and she has a tattoo to prove it. The Indian superstar, who is very close to her family, lost her father Dr. Ashok Chopra to cancer in 2013, per the Times of India. Only a year before her father passed away, Chopra got her right wrist inked in her father's handwriting — something she said she had to initially lie to him about. "I told him I needed to write this down because I wanted it for artwork for my album," she said on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," calling her father her "biggest cheerleader." 

The tattoo, which reads "Daddy's lil girl..." is featured on the cover of Chopra's memoir "Unfinished," in which she delves into the relationship she shared with her father. After his death, she faced a long period of depression: "I walled myself off emotionally," she wrote in the book (via Outlook India). Her father's death also put Chopra's faith in God to the test, she revealed. "I was very angry," she said on Oprah Winfrey's show, recalling how she had helplessly flown him across the world for treatment in a bid "to prolong his life" (via The Indian Express).

Priyanka is a consummate planner, complete with to-do lists

If it seems like Priyanka Chopra has her life sorted out, it's probably because she does. The "Isn't It Romantic?" actor is quite the planner, and apparently runs through her routines on a meticulous schedule. Her day begins around 8 a.m. and typically concludes around 11:30 p.m. or midnight, as told to The Cut in 2021. From training to meetings, script readings to film-viewing, Chopra manages to clock in time for just about everything. "I'm very specific about cleaning," she added. Even when she's traveling — which is a lot, given her cross-continental career — the "Exotic" singer follows a comprehensive drill. 

Chopra claims to be an "efficient packer" who "loves lists," meticulously planning her journeys (via Condé Nast Traveler). For her longer flights, she follows a complete regimen that ensures she is comfy, moisturized, and well-rested. Here's a wardrobe travel tip from the guru herself: "Make sure you take two or three basic things, which you can repeat with multiple outfits." But it's not just short-term goals that Chopra aces. In 2019, she told Vogue, "Buying a home and having a baby are on my to-do list." Come 2022, she has met both milestones, having bought a luxurious $20 million house in California with her husband Nick Jonas and welcomed her first child with him (via Cosmopolitan). 

She's had her fair share of weird nicknames

Priyanka Chopra has braved her fair share of monikers in the over two decades she has spent as a celebrity. In the Indian press, the actor is generously referred to as PeeCee (a stylization of her initials) or "desi girl," taking after a popular Hindi song of the same name from a film she starred in titled "Dostana" (via Firstpost). To family, she is Mimi — a name she apparently decided for herself at the young age of 3, as revealed in an interview.  

A bizarre (to say the least!) nickname that stuck for the actor among fans, Bollywood colleagues, and the media was Piggy Chops. Its origins go back to 2005, when her costars from the film "Bluffmaster!" christened her: "Chops because of Chopra and Piggy because I like to eat a lot," Chopra told Glamour. While she remained a good sport about it for years, Chopra ultimately grew sick of this nickname, asking to be given a new one, per the Times of India. From her marriage to Nick Jonas emerged the celebrity nickname Prick — a portmanteau of the couple's names. "I think it's kind of cool and unique. Nick doesn't like it," she said on Jimmy Fallon's show