Indian actress Priyanka Chopra lost out on a movie role last year (17) because of the color of her skin.
The Baywatch star revealed in an interview with InStyle magazine that she was up for a role in a film last year, until an executive from a movie studio told her agent that she didn’t have the right “physicality” for the part.
“I was out for a movie, and somebody (from the studio) called one of my agents and said, ‘She’s the wrong – what word did they use? – ‘physicality,'” she recalled.
“So in my defense as an actor, I’m like, ‘Do I need to be skinnier? Do I need to get in shape? Do I need to have abs?’ Like, what does ‘wrong physicality’ mean? And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’ It affected me.”
The issue of pay disparity between actors and actresses has been a hot topic in recent years, but the Quantico star notes that it’s even worse for women of color, adding, “No one will say that a woman is getting paid less because she’s a woman of color, but the numbers mostly end up reflecting that.”
Before making the move to Hollywood, the 35-year-old starred in a number of Bollywood movies, and she admits Indian film executives are more upfront about paying their actresses less than their male co-stars.
“In America, we don’t talk about it as brashly, whereas in India the issue is not skirted around,” she admitted. “I’ve been told straight up, if it’s a female role in a movie with big, male actors attached, your worth is not really considered as much.”
She shared that she was recently giving a low figure for a role in a Hindi-language movie, and the studio cited her gender as the reason. She added, “A producer-director said to me, ‘Well, you know how it is in these big tentpole movies with the big boys. This is the budget for the girl, and we can’t move beyond that,’ which was, like, a measly five per cent of what (the male lead) was getting.”