Priyanka Chopra Reveals She Was Bullied in High School

Priyanka Chopra is at the top of her game in both her career and her personal life. The former Miss World pageant winner went on to a successful acting career and, of course, married her prince, Nick Jonas. Despite her fame and personal happiness, she wasn’t immune to being bullied in high school due to her skin color.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas attend the screening of "Les Plus Belles Annees D'Une Vie" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas | Antony Jones/Getty Images

Priyanka Chopra opens up about the bullying she endured

Chopra was born in India, but moved to the United States when she was 13 years old to live with her aunt. She attended American high schools in Massachusetts, Iowa, and Queens, New York, where the kids weren’t always kind, she recently told the Associated Press, noting, “I was treated differently because I’m brown.”

She added: “I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade. I was called ‘Brownie,’ ‘Curry,’ [told to] ‘go back on the elephant you came on,’ and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”

During her time in high school in Boston, she told the International Business Times in 2012, that she was a “gawky, imperfect child,” explaining, “My life was an epitome of imperfection. I’m not perfect like (Indian actress and former Miss World winner) Aishwarya Rai, beautiful, stunning.”

She shared: “I was a gawky kid, had low self-esteem, came from a modest middle-class background, had white marks on my legs, but only thing I knew was to work hard and learn. I didn’t know how to act or win a beauty pageant. But I was damn hard working. Today, my legs sell 12 brands.”

One bully made Chopra’s life ‘hell’

Chopra speaks of her experience with bullying in hopes of creating a conversation, noting, “The more we can talk about it and open other people’s eyes and say, ‘It doesn’t have to be that way,’ and give them more examples, I guess society will change.”

In a 2017 interview with Glamour, Chopra discussed her past experience, noting that at least one bully “made [her] life hell.”

She explained: “There was this girl who was a major bully. I think she didn’t like me because her boyfriend liked me, or some high school dynamic. She made my life hell. She used to call me names and would push me against the locker. High school’s hard for everybody, and then there’s this woman.”

Chopra explained how she was fearful of the bully but she hopes her story can inspire people to not ‘be afraid of who you are.’

She explained: “Staying in your lane — I heard that so much. I want to make my lane! And yes, it’s an extremely scary time. Maybe I, being on the platform that I am, can say this louder than the kid who has to get on the subway and go to school: You don’t need to be afraid of who you are.”

The actress continued: “I don’t want any kid to feel the way I felt in school. I was afraid of my bully. It made me feel like I’m less — in my skin, in my identity, in my culture.”