She’s a gorgeous former model and Miss India/Miss World who segued to the big screen as one of the most popular stars in Bollywood. Now Priyanka Chopra is poised to conquer Hollywood as the star of Quantico, an ABC action drama set in the FBI academy that premieres Sept. 27 at 10/9c.

Chopra plays Alex Parrish, an ambitious Indian-American recruit who gets framed for a terrorist act and has to clear her name as flashbacks reveal the secrets behind what happened. I

In this candid Q&A, Chopra tells us about the role, moving to America, what she likes in men and why she loves long flights.

“No one has come my way that can keep my attention. I have very high standards.”

How did you get this role?
I had a holding deal with ABC. I’m a huge fan of American TV and I wanted to be a part of that. I told ABC that I wanted to do a show which gave me the respect of being an actor instead of casting me for the color of my skin or what I looked like or where I come from. When I was in school here as a kid I never saw anybody who looked like me on TV, and this was an opportunity for me to change that.

So when I read all the pilots that they had given to me… Quantico breaks the clichés of what a woman can be and yet celebrates femininity, and it goes beyond color, class, creed and country. It was my first choice, because any actress from any part of the world who wants to be good at their job would want to play Alex Parrish. She’s Jason Bourne in female form. Also, I’ve always loved mysteries, thrillers, and whodunits. The writing is super smart. It doesn’t take your intelligence for granted. And at the same time, it’s drama and entertainment, it’s funny, and it’s sharp.

How are you preparing for the action scenes?
The good thing was I was in the middle of doing an Indian movie in which I play an Indian police officer, and I was training for that and Quantico simultaneously, so that really helped. I’ve done a bunch of action movies before, so I’m familiar with it. We have a whole lot of action sequences, and running, so you have to be extremely physically fit, you need stamina. So the training has been a big part of doing the show. We train whenever we can.

Have you been to Quantico?
I haven’t been there yet. I hope they take me. I really do want to go. I’ve seen videos and all of us spent time with real FBI agents, cramming everything that the FBI does. An FBI agent spent four days with me, talking to me about his life, his friends’ lives and what actually happened at Quantico.

Did Bollywood prepare you for Hollywood?
I think it’s the same anywhere. Movies are movies. I haven’t done movies here, just TV, but I realized that as soon as I started doing this that essentially it’s the same structure. In India, we’re opulent and big, we have music and dancing and here you have action and 16-hour days. I put in just as much here. It’s hard work no matter what character you play. But I love it. I love going to set, reading my scene, getting gooseflesh before they say “action.”

But I love doing my Indian films, and it’s amazing that I can balance both. I’m going back and forth. And after I finish the season, I go back to finish another movie. I do want to be able to do my movies and the show. I’ve always been able to manage multiple things in my life. And I think that’s a superpower women have anyway. We’re great at multitasking.


Did you ever worry that being a model and pageant winner would pigeonhole you?
Being a model did in the beginning, you know, “models can’t act.” I broke that ceiling long ago.

Was moving to America a culture shock?
No. I knew America well enough because I was in high school here. There’s a bigger difference between features and television than there is between India and America.

What other places do you like to visit?
I don’t take holidays too much. I have careers in two continents. The best time that I have is on a 16-hour flight from Mumbai to LA. I shut my cabin door, watch a movie and eat caviar.

Do you have a game plan for the future?
I’ve never really had a plan. Destiny seems to have its own plans for me. What I do is try to excel at whatever comes my way—do the best that I can and see where I can go.

What about personal goals—a family?
Yes, I want a team of kids.

Do you have a significant other?
No, I don’t. No one has come my way that can keep my attention. I have very high standards.

What do you look for in a guy?
Someone who’s smart, an achiever, someone I can look up to.

What’s your idea of the perfect gentleman?
A guy who thinks about the woman before himself, and can make her laugh.

Lead photo by Bob D’Amico/ABC
Second photo by Abheet Gidwani/ABC

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