For all the controversy surrounding the recent whitewashing accusations hurled at Doctor Strange and similar fare, the ongoing construction of a truly diverse (and accurately represented) television landscape shows that the most relevant artistic voices are often found on the small screen. However, for Complex cover star Priyanka Chopra, the success of Quantico rests not in the shadow of the success of fellow ABC hits but in something else entirely.
"That's exactly what I didn't want to do," Chopra told us of pitching an all-Indian "spiritual successor" to ABC titans black-ish or Fresh Off the Boat. "I was very sure I did not want to be the stereotype of what Indian people are seen as, which is Bollywood, and henna. That's all great! It's what we are and I love it. I love saris. I love music. I love henna. I love dancing. But that's not all we are." Instead, Chopra argues, it was more important for her to be seen as simply an actor. "I think global entertainment needs to become like that," Chopra told us. "It needs to be about the best person for the job rather than what you look like or where you come from. And I wanted to be one of the first people to take a step in that direction."
Chopra's Quantico character (Alex Parrish) wasn't written as an Indian-American, instead allowing the role to remain racially ambiguous. Sadly, as Aziz Ansari astutely explored in his Peabody-winning series Master of None, the racial stereotypes are still alive and well in many facets of the industry. "There are so many Indian actors who have crossed over and have done a lot of work in the West," Chopra noted, "but they've always been made to speak like Apu [from The Simpsons]. I want to be able to break the stereotype of what Indian people or people of South Asian descent are supposed to be. Nobody's supposed to be anything. You can be whoever you want. And I want young people to see that."
Quantico, starring Chopra as an FBI agent falsely accused of a terrorist attack, was recently renewed by ABC for a second season. A critical smash upon its premiere, the series is currently three episodes away from its inaugural finale. Quantico airs (almost) every Sunday on ABC. Get privy if you aren't already.