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Quantico is finally back with the season 2 premiere! I added screen captures from tonight’s episode at the link below.


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Last night, ABC’s political thriller Quantico entered its second season, with Indian actor Priyanka Chopra resuming her role as Alex Parrish, an FBI operative framed for a terrorist attack. Alex is an ass-kicking heroine in every sense of the phrase: she is blisteringly smart, physically adroit, and committed to serving her country by all means possible. In playing Alex, Chopra herself is something of a powerhouse: She is the first Indian woman to lead a primetime network show in the U.S.—a fact she brushes off as another reality of the job, which in recent years has taken a turn toward the stratosphere. In India—where she still regularly works—she is a singer, and a fixture of Bollywood. Next year, she will be seen around the world in Seth Gordon’s highly anticipated Baywatch remake alongside Zac Efron and the Rock.

In Baywatch, Chopra will play Victoria, the film’s villain. Alex and Victoria could not be more different: While one is driven only to do good, the other is driven only by evil. This, Chopra tells us, is precisely why she sought the challenge: One role informs the other, and both become stronger.

We recently spoke with Chopra, just as she was wrapping a full day on set for Quantico (they still have many episodes left to film). Remarkably, she was able to leave the head of Alex and speak eloquently as herself.

MATT MULLEN: I understand you’ve been on set all day. How is production going?
PRIYANKA CHOPRA: It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of long hours. We’re filming 22 episodes. So the body starts creaking after awhile.

MULLEN: Alex is also such a physical role. I imagine there’s a physical toll you experience.
CHOPRA: Yes. And also because I work weekends as well—because I have photo shoots or commercials that I do, or things in India. It’s usually a seven-day week for me. So physically it does get exhausting.

MULLEN: How do you balance it all?
CHOPRA: I’m a tough girl, I know what my job entails—it entails a lot more than standing in front of the camera. So I get it. I won’t deny the physicality of it is exhausting, and sometimes my body just can’t keep up. But it is ultimately about mind over matter. I learned very early in my career that when I don’t arrive on set, production will shut down, which means people won’t get paid; there’s that much responsibility. So I learned that whatever it is, you have to show up for the job, and power through.

MULLEN: Congrats on Season Two of Quantico premiering.
CHOPRA: Thanks, I’m excited.

MULLEN: How does it feel this time around? By that I mean, there wasn’t as much built-in hype around Season One. Now that there’s this huge fan base—does it ever feel nerve-wracking? Like you have to live up to people’s expectations?
CHOPRA: It feels better, actually, because there’s a certain loyalty that the show has, and a fan-base that the show has, and this year the show is better than last year, if I may say so myself. So I’m very confident about it. I think it will be a really good show, and I think people who have invested themselves into my character are going to be very happy with what they get to see.

MULLEN: You’re the first Indian woman to lead a primetime network show. And Alex is held up to be this feminist icon—does that ever feel like a lot of pressure?
CHOPRA: This role is exactly what I was looking for. I remember when I spoke to ABC, that’s exactly what I told them: I need to play these kind of parts. I don’t want to be a stereotype; I want a character that’s aspirational. To their credit, they made a great character on a great show. I seek out parts which are strong women. It’s not the quantity of a role; it’s the quality of a role. And I don’t ever want to do the same character twice. Variety excites me, which is a big reason why I wanted to play the villain in Baywatch, because I’m such a hero in Quantico, I needed to do something which was not similar to Alex.

MULLEN: I feel like Victoria in Baywatch is strong but in a different way.
CHOPRA: Yes, she is extremely feminine, very evil, extremely delectable, manipulative, patronizing. Which is not at all Alex. These are completely different people.

MULLEN: That must have been fun, to inhabit such a different character.
CHOPRA: It was so much fun. Seth Gordon, the director, is huge a collaborator, and same with Josh Safran, for that matter, on Quantico—I’ve been very fortunate that the people I’ve worked with have been such collaborators when it comes to my characters. It wasn’t ever difficult being Victoria, it was just creating. And the joy of creating is the truest joy. I don’t enjoy being told what to do, I’m not that kind of actor, I’m a thinking actor. I need to work with people who have the ability to do that. Both Seth and Josh really have a sense of belief in what I bring to the table. I’m very grateful that they have that in me.

MULLEN: How do you define a strong woman role? Is that’s something that’s been determined by the script, or do you give a character strength?
CHOPRA: Strength of character is already written. What we bring, as an actor, is an almost 3D-ness to it. It’s almost like a character is 2D, and then after I come in it becomes a 3D; it becomes alive. So what I bring into it is the essence of the character, and the soul of the character, how she walks and how she talks. But what she’s inherently doing needs to be written. And by strong I don’t mean ass-kicking, driving fast cars. Every character that I play, even if it’s a homemaker, there is an inherent, innate strength in her—you can find strength in every facet of a female personality. It doesn’t just come from the physical strength of a woman.

MULLEN: So in that same vein, how is Victoria strong in Baywatch?
CHOPRA: Victoria is strong because she has minions. She has people do her dirty work. She doesn’t look at how to get results, she just gets them. She doesn’t have morality. But also … it’s a comedy. [laughs]

MULLEN: Was that a fun movie to film?
CHOPRA: I was filming Quantico at the same time, so I had to go in and out. It was pretty insane. But everyone was amazing with me and my schedule. I’m so used to hopping in and out of character; even with Quantico I was filming Bajirao Mastani, so I was flying to India on the weekends. But it was so much fun to be able to create Victoria in Baywatch. It was awesome to bring that black evilness into their positive, beautiful world. [laughs]

SEASON TWO OF QUANTICO AIRS SUNDAY NIGHTS ON ABC. BAYWATCH COMES OUT IN MAY 2017.








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The American dream means different things to different people: equality, opportunity, freedom. But for a teenage Priyanka Chopra, it meant not having to wear a school uniform.

“That was the main reason I wanted to come here,” the actress (who was born in Jharkhand, India) tells Alexa, only half-jokingly. Her mother, Madhu, and father, Ashok — both doctors in the Indian army — agreed to send her to live with relatives in the US when she was 13. She hopped between Iowa, Massachusetts and Flushing, Queens, where her grades at Robert F. Kennedy High School were always impeccable.

But Chopra, who stars in the ABC series “Quantico,” also took advantage of the time away from her conservative parents to advance her non-academic interests.

“My locker was filled with shoes and clothes and makeup,” she recalls. “I didn’t need books so much because I was a smart kid. So I would leave for school wearing loose shirts, and change [into something more risqué] when I got to school. I used to turn into a little hottie!”

As Chopra, 34, breezes from elegant dress to elegant dress for our Alexa photo shoot in Chelsea, it’s clear she’s grown from high-school “hottie” to modern-day style icon, headlining Bollywood spectaculars and Hollywood red carpets.

Indeed, all that early fashion practice proved prescient. When she returned to India after high school, her mother secretly entered her in the Miss India World pageant in 2000 — without asking her. But the 18-year-old novice managed to beat the veteran contestants, winning the crown and going on to snag the entire Miss World title later that year.

That double win launched Chopra’s stellar Bollywood career, where she starred in dozens of films, earning critical praise as well as commercial success. Among her most prominent works was 2015’s epic romance “Bajirao Mastani,” which took in around $53 million, making it one of the most lucrative Bollywood movies of all time.

But it’s with the spy thriller “Quantico” (which is syndicated in more than 200 countries and territories) that her name has finally become a global brand. The show spotlights a group of FBI trainees with Chopra at the center, playing the wily and dynamic Alex Parrish. It’s one of the first mainstream American TV characters to be portrayed by an Indian-born actor, and Chopra was careful to insist that her character be depicted without offensive stereotypes.

“I still come across the conception of Bollywood films as full of singing, dancing jokers, and that we break out into random music sequences,” she says, laughing. “I even get people asking me how I speak such good English. I might do a mental eye-roll, but instead of getting angry, I take a breath and try to educate whoever wants to learn about where I come from. I used to have a friend at school who changed his name from Varun to Warren because he said people couldn’t pronounce it. I remember telling him, ‘Teach them!’

Soon there will be many more opportunities to soak up her lessons. Season 2 of “Quantico” kicks off on Sept. 25; in December, Chopra will serve as a guest judge on “Project Runway,” alongside Heidi Klum, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia.

“It was so hard for me to do the elimination part,” Chopra admits. “I really felt for these contestants. I’m a guest judge, so thankfully I don’t have to be mean! I’ve been through contests that have involved elimination. I won both [Miss India and Miss World], but the pressure and stress was so much that I still have some kind of PTSD from it. I’m not sure I could ever do it again.”

Chopra has also wrapped filming on next year’s “Baywatch” movie, in which she plays villain Victoria Leeds — a part originally intended for a male actor. “I think people in America thought of that show as cheesy, but I watched it all the time with my mom in India,” she recalls. “It was massive there. In my head, I still run in slow-motion like they do!”

These days, she splits her time between New York and India, where her mother and younger brother, a nightlife impresario, still live. Family is clearly important to Chopra: One of the few times her fizzing personality begins to crack is when she talks about her late father. “He was my biggest champion and my mentor,” she says. Chopra wears her love for Ashok on her sleeve — quite literally. The prominent tattoo on her right hand reads “Daddy’s lil girl.”

In 2005 he was diagnosed with cancer, and despite eight years of treatment, he passed away in 2013. Even now, Chopra frequently refers to him in the present tense. After correcting herself, her tone changes noticeably. “I kept asking myself, ‘What more could I have done — what did I miss? Could I have found a different treatment?’ It was the time in my life that I felt failure the most.

The idea that Chopra’s father is missing out on seeing his daughter achieve success all over the world is something that clearly saddens her. “It was never a plan of mine to go to a whole new country at the age of 33, and start a new career,” she adds. “Maybe he’s orchestrating it from somewhere. I’d like to believe that.”

It takes just a short while in her company to understand why much of the world is suddenly so enamored of Chopra. Her confidence is palpable, her voice and stride purposeful. But she has a playful side, too. She shifts seamlessly from thoughtfully answering questions to enthusiastically rapping along to the ’90s hip-hop blasting on set at the photo shoot. “That’s all I listened to when I was a kid,” she says. “I love Biggie, but I had a big crush on Tupac as a teenager. I thought he was a modern-day poet the voice of our generation.”

It’s not necessarily a surprise to witness her aptitude for music. In 2011, she signed a record deal with Interscope. But after a minor club hit with the Pitbull collaboration “Exotic” in 2013, her album ended up getting shelved, partly because of her other numerous projects. “Sometimes I still put it on when I’m drinking wine with my friends,” she says. “I’d love to do music again, but just don’t have the time to really focus on it — and you need that.

At the photo studio, she changes outfits with the cool efficiency of a quick-change artist. It’s an approach that reflects her overall fashion philosophy. “I like brands like Brandon Maxwell and Alexander Wang. They’re chic within themselves, they’re edgy, and they’re not a huge effort. I don’t like effort within my clothes. Most of the time, I’m a jeans-and-snazzy-heels kind of girl. It’s a quick tip for working girls who don’t have the time.”

If there’s a downside to being such a busy and successful star, it’s the heightened scrutiny on her personal life — something Chopra has always refused to discuss. “In India, they don’t directly ask you who you’re dating,” she explains. “But in America they’ll just say, ‘Who’s your boyfriend?’ ”

As any A-lister will tell you, keeping secrets in the age of cellphones and social media is nearly impossible — but Chopra has an answer for that, too. “In Season 2 of ‘Quantico,’ Alex is working for the CIA . . . so I know how to hide!”

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“For eons, women have been told how to be or think or dress. I come from a part of the world where this debate is so heated, especially because we’re a country that has goddesses. We pray to women. But at the same time, we prey on them.”

Priyanka Chopra and I are sitting on leather couches in a basement dressing room full of female solidarity. It is a late weekday afternoon in August, and she is on break from filming scenes for the sophomore season of her hit ABC series, Quantico. About to head to makeup for a touch-up, she offers another opinion about what it’s going to take for women to get what we’re owed in this world. Spoiler: It’s dudes doing their fair share. “Feminism needs men to understand that we don’t want to berate you or kill you or hate you,” she says. “We just need you to stand by us.” Insofar as it is possible to nod enthusiastically, I do.

Like the rest of the internet, Chopra and I are both momentarily obsessed with a 1975 Helen Mirren interview that resurfaced and went viral in the waning days of summer. In it, a TV host basically calls Mirren a slut. (He actually quoted a theater critic who said she has a gift for telegraphing “sluttish eroticism,” but don’t let his posh English accent trip you up). Mirren pushed back perfectly, one insulting dig at a time.

“How epic was she?” Chopra asks, an obviously rhetorical question that I respond to anyway. (Sooo epic.) “That’s what feminism is. Don’t judge me for being me, just like you don’t judge the boys. That’s all we want — equality in treatment.” I am on board with this broad-stroke definition of feminism, as well as most of the other pro-woman party lines with which Chopra shores it up. We are a two-person consciousness-raising group, Chopra and I. Gloria Steinem would be proud.

Except. A decidedly un-Steinem-like thought keeps popping into my head while we are talking empowerment and equality and the overall boss-ness of Helen Mirren, and also eating meatballs. (Chopra likes an afternoon meatball.) That thought is this: Chopra might be the most stunning person I’ve ever seen in the flesh. While Priy — that’s what people call her — is thoughtfully answering my questions, I am distracted by the way her lips move, the shape of her eyebrows, how unfathomably shiny her hair is. A shameful corner of my brain is trying to work out a scenario in which she might let me examine her pores at close range, perhaps with a magnifying mirror. In between bites, I scan her face to evaluate its symmetry. Even in crappy lighting, she is basically a goddess herself.

“I didn’t even know I was beautiful until — I don’t even know it now,” Chopra says, and this from the winner of the 2000 Miss World pageant. The wild thing is, you actually believe her. “I don’t think I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I think I won because I was well spoken and I was decently turned out. The stars aligned that day. But I taught myself to be the best version of myself over the years.

“Beauty is so subjective, whether it’s art, whether it’s human beings, whether it’s nature. What is one person’s ‘Mona Lisa’ is not someone else’s, you know?”

But I’m not ready to back down here until, with a sigh, the subject becomes officially tiresome. “Beauty has nothing to do with me,” she says. “I was born with it. But I don’t want to be known by the fact that I’m beautiful. I want to be known for the fact that I’m an achiever. Not even an actor. I don’t want a label. I don’t want a box. I want a legacy.” With that, she’s beckoned in front of the camera.

Right now, I am watching Chopra jam her elbow into a grown man’s groin. She and her sparring partner, Quantico star Jake McLaughlin, are battling it out in a transparent box, and he has her in what I have to say looks like a very sexy, solid choke hold. She is struggling against the crook of his arm, trying to escape, when her face nearly slams against the wall. Then she taps out, and the training exercise is over.

This is TV. But that does not mean it is not impressively athletic. “I’m not, by nature, physical,” Chopra says. She doesn’t train or keep a regimented gym schedule. Mostly, she assumes she’ll get a little beat up on set. It’s all in a day’s work.

I remember reading that when Chopra won Miss World, her dad put wrought-iron bars up on her windows after one particularly ardent admirer tried to sneak in. That was almost two decades ago, and my guess would be that the assault on her private life has only grown commensurately with her fame. “It’s a hazard of the job,” Chopra tells me, blithely. “It’s like, if you’re a fireman, you’re going to get burned.”

The jump from Miss World to silver-screen superstar was never something she planned for, Chopra insists. She says that she didn’t know that she needed to have actual life aspirations until she was a teenager, after spending a couple years in America. (That, by the way, was not a highlight of her childhood. She says going to school in the Boston suburb of Newton was like living through her own personal version of Mean Girls, in which she played the victim. She returned to India for her senior year.)

“I wanted to be an engineer, because both my parents are doctors and I don’t like the smell of formaldehyde and I faint at the sight of blood,” she says. “So, yeah. I decided to go in another direction.”

Chopra has one tattoo, on her right wrist, that reads “Daddy’s Lil Girl.” It is written in her father’s handwriting. He passed away of cancer in 2013. For eight years, she flew him around the world for different treatments. “I’m a really tough girl,” Chopra says. “I’m really good at fixing things and dealing with things. When the big shit hits the fan: I’m the one who’ll stand up and say, ‘Alright, this is the solution. We can do this. This is fixable.’ But I couldn’t do that with my dad.”

Celebrity legend has it that Chopra was in the process of applying for college scholarships when her mom secretly submitted her headshots to the Miss India competition. Chopra went through with it, she says, mostly to get out of exams. After she won, film producers came knocking. She made over 20 movies in her first five years acting. She started making music, too, with artists like Will.i.am and Pitbull. It was basically a Bollywood fairy tale.

But while she is a megastar in the rest of the world, until relatively recently, Chopra has had a low profile in the U.S. I remember the first time I saw her: in the red carpet photos from the 2016 SAG Awards, in a long tulle dress with hot-pink lace overlays. She was all anyone could talk about for a few days after that.

Confession: When I first saw those images, I immediately wondered if anyone that good looking could also be equally interesting. I regret this thought. But as Chopra puts it: “Women pull each other down all the time. That’s our weakness. The boys come together — like bromance. Why can’t girls do it, too?”

When she scored her first offer to star in her own series, Chopra declined. “I said no, because it’s a really long commitment.” She was in the middle of a bunch of movies in India, and couldn’t imagine taking on anything more. But after she read the Quantico script, she reconsidered. The catch? Alex Parrish — the lead role, and the one Chopra was gunning for — had been written for an American actress. “I’m not even Indian-American,” Chopra says. “I’m from another country. I speak Indian. I think Indian. I look Indian. I really had to wrap my head around who Alex was, to convince not just the writers, but the American people that I’m an American girl.” She wound up nabbing the part and making headlines for being a South Asian woman headlining a network thriller.

But while she’s more than happy to be associated with breaking barriers, she’s sensitive to the language surrounding such achievements. When I ask her about what it might mean if she became the first woman to play James Bond — in an interview earlier this year, Chopra said she’d be keen to take on the role — she set the record straight.

“I know everything is about diversity right now. But I think it should be about humanity. It’s 2016. It’s so easy to separate ourselves and become smaller and smaller pieces of humanity,” she says. “I don’t like the phrase ‘woman of color.’ I feel like that puts women in a box. I’m a woman, whether I’m white, Black, brown, green, blue, or pink — whatever. I think we need to start looking beyond that. It would be a big win for women, period.”

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I uploaded HQ untagged photos from Priyanka’s photo shoot with the Wrap. Check them out in the gallery below!



Gallery Link:
HOME > PHOTO SHOOTS > 2016 > THE WRAP










Priyanka is on the April issue of Vogue India. I also added more outtakes from the Esquire photo shoot. Click on the links below to enjoy 🙂



Gallery Link:
HOME > MAGAZINES > 2016 > VOGUE INDIA (APRIL 2016)



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HOME > PHOTO SHOOTS > 2016 > ESQUIRE- MARCH 2016




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