Priyanka Chopra on 'Quantico,' Canadian winters and Angelina Jolie

By Bill Brioux

If there’s one name to know this fall, it’s Priyanka Chopra. While the star of Quantico is new to most TV viewers here, she’s a celebrity in her native India, boasting more than 11 million Twitter followers. Now the former Miss World, 33, is earning more admirers as FBI recruit Alex Parrish on the popular new drama.

Her Quantico castmates are well aware of Priyanka’s celebrity status. “Everywhere we shoot, people come out and scream her name,” says Cougar Town ’s Josh Hopkins, who plays her FBI instructor. Not that she acts like a diva; when Hello! visited the Montreal set of her show, the friendly actress was quick to ask if anyone wanted coffee or tea. Here, she reflects on her path to stardom.

Photo: © Getty Images

Priyanka, did you always have your sights set on being an actress?
I was a physics and math student. I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and build planes.

You spent your high school years in the U.S. How did you wind up in a beauty pageant back in India?
When I was 16, my mother sent in my pictures to Miss India without my knowledge.

What happened?
I won it! When I landed in London for Miss World, I saw there were girls who were at least twice as tall as I am and I thought, “What am I even doing here?” Then I ended up winning that, too.

Did winning Miss World open the door to Bollywood?
Lots of movie offers came to me. My dad said if I wanted to give it a shot, I should have a time limit, like a year and a half. If not, I’d go back to college; there were always planes. My first movie did really well and I never looked back. I realized that, besides Beyoncé, I’m destiny’s other favourite child. Very few people are fortunate enough to wake up every morning and love their job. I don’t take that for granted.

Priyanka was recently nominated for a People’s Choice Award for her work in Quantico (Sundays, CTV).

What do you like most about playing FBI recruit Alex Parrish?
Everything. She’s so badass, but she doesn’t have to lose her femininity. She’s vulnerable and tough at the same time. I love that.

Is there an actress you’d like to emulate when it comes to your career?
I like the way Angelina Jolie lives her life. I think she lives it on her own terms. I admire her for being the philanthropist that she is.

Were you familiar with Canada before coming to Montreal to shoot Quantico?
I’ve filmed a lot of movies in Canada because there’s a huge Indian demographic in Canada, and a lot of stories that I’ve done have characters based in Canada. I shot one in Calgary, which was so cold. There was 10 feet of snow; it was January!

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