"Deep inside, it starts gnawing at you."
Priyanka Chopra has detailed the racist bullying she faced while attending an American high school when she was 15-years-old in her new memoir.
The Book, titled Unfinished, is set to release on February 9, 2021, and while Priyanka has achieved success in the United States, it was not always welcoming to her.
The actress revealed that she moved to Newton, Massachusetts when she was 12 to live with her extended family.
For three years, she stayed with relatives, moving to New York City, Indianapolis and then Newton, where things took a turn for the worse.
In Unfinished, Priyanka said that other teenage girls would say things like, “Brownie, go back to your country!” and “Go back on the elephant you came on.”
Priyanka tried to ignore the bullies and sought help from a close group of friends.
She even reached out to the guidance counsellor but they could not help.
The actress revealed that the racist bullying was so bad, she ultimately returned to India to finish her education.
She told PEOPLE: “I took it very personally. Deep inside, it starts gnawing at you.
“I went into a shell. I was like, ‘Don’t look at me. I just want to be invisible’.
“My confidence was stripped. I’ve always considered myself a confident person, but I was very unsure of where I stood, of who I was.”
During the difficult period, Priyanka Chopra said she “broke up with America”.
After a phone call with her parents, she returned home and gradually gained her confidence back.
“I was so blessed that when I went back to India, I was surrounded by so much love and admiration for who I was.
“Going back to India healed me after that experience in high school.”
Looking back on the racist bullying, Priyanka said:
“I don’t even blame the city, honestly. I just think it was girls who, at that age, just want to say something that’ll hurt.
“Now, at the other side of 35, I can say that it probably comes from a place of them being insecure. But at that time, I took it very personally.”
Following her father’s advice, Priyanka revealed she decided to “leave my baggage behind”.
“In America, I was trying not to be different. Right? I was trying to fit in and I wanted to be invisible.”
“When I went to India, I chose to be different.”
She caught back up in school and started taking part in extracurricular activities and appearing on the school stage.
“People were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so good at this’.
“[That] built my confidence, having made new friends who were amazing and loving and doing actual teenage things. Going to parties, having crushes, dating, all the things, the normal stuff. It just built me up.”
Priyanka Chopra explained that by writing her memoir, she hopes to encourage others who have been bullied or are battling the subsequent “sadness”.