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Priyanka Chopra opens up about losing role because of her skin color

The actress, who stars in the ABC drama "Quantico," was upset by the experience.
Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra says she lost out on a role last year due to her skin color.Gilbert Carrasquillo / GC Images
/ Source: TODAY

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Priyanka Chopra knows Hollywood can discriminate because it's happened to her firsthand.

The 35-year-old actress, who stars in the ABC drama "Quantico," opened up to InStyle about losing a role because of the color of her skin.

Priyanka Chopra is the first Indian actress to headline an American primetime TV show.Getty Images

"It happened last year," she said. "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."'"

Chopra mistakenly believed the film's producers wanted her to lose weight.

"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?" Chopra continued. "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," she added.

As the first Indian actress to headline an American primetime TV show, Chopra knows Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to casting women of color — and paying them fair wages.

"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," she told InStyle.

In February, the "Baywatch" star opened up to Sunday TODAY's Willie Geist about being the victim of racist bullying and name-calling after she moved from India to the U.S. as a teenager.

"That was my first sort of experience and brush with racism in a big way, where I was made to feel so uncomfortable about the way I look or where I came from, I started believing that I probably was less," shared the actress, who now participates in anti-bullying efforts, among other humanitarian causes.

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But the former Miss World didn't let nasty remarks temper her ambition. Chopra went on to become an A-list Bollywood star in India — appearing in more than 50 films there — and soon began enchanting American audiences as well.

"I didn’t want one country or two," she said to Geist. "I just wanted the world."