"So even now, it was extremely hard."
Priyanka Chopra has admitted that it is difficult for Indian actors to win roles in Hollywood.
She joined Kabir Bedi over a video call to launch his book, Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life of an Actor.
The pair spoke about how tough it was for them to make moves in Hollywood.
Kabir explained that Hollywood has a role for South Asian actors, but they tend to paint “a white actor brown”. As a result, he had to look for anything that seemed foreign to the American audience.
He said: “In those days Hollywood just wasn’t writing roles for Indian, or Asians in general. So how do you get a role if it is not written for you?
“When they did have a role for an Asian, they had no hesitation in painting a white actor brown.
“The way I got the roles was telling my agent that forget the Indian bit. Cast me in anything that is foreign-looking to Hollywood.”
Kabir said that he has played various foreign characters in Hollywood. He added:
“In those days, a Ben Kingsley had to change his name from Krishna Bhanji to Ben Kingsley to be taken seriously and get roles.
“Today, Priyanka Chopra does not have to change her name for her success in America.”
Priyanka said: “But let me tell you. This is a couple of decades later when I decided to go and seek work in America.
“I didn’t have to change my name but I did have to teach people how to say my name.
“Everybody would be like Priyanka ‘Shapra-Shapra’. I said it is not Shapra.
“If you can say Oprah, you can say Chopra. It’s not that difficult.”
She continued: “What I had to do as well – so funny that you are saying you had to do at that time – was I had to be ethnically ambiguous to a certain extent, to be able to get mainstream roles.
“In Quantico, I played a half-Indian, half-American.
“All my bigger work when I initially joined Hollywood, I could not step out there with being Indian, because it was too alien for Hollywood.
“I don’t think, for a very long time, they understood casting an Indian person in a mainstream role in a leading part. So even now, it was extremely hard.”
Priyanka has featured in numerous Hollywood films such as Baywatch and Isn’t It Romantic.
Meanwhile, Kabir starred in the likes of Ashanti and the James Bond film Octopussy.
Priyanka Chopra has numerous projects lined up, including Text For You, Citadel and the fourth instalment of The Matrix.
She also plans to make her Bollywood comeback.