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Priyanka Chopra on Feminism, Being ‘Fearless,’ and Why Diversity Shouldn’t Be a ‘Novelty’

Priyanka Chopra is proud to call herself a feminist, and frustrated with those who reject the label.

“I see so many girlfriends of mine who are like, ‘No I’m not that much of a feminist.’ I don’t even understand that,” she says. “The need for feminism was created because there were no rights for women. That’s why there is not a man-ism, because they always had it.”

The “Quantico” star says she defines feminism simply as equal opportunity for women.

Variety Power of Women Cover 2017 Priyanka Chopra
CREDIT: Art Streiber for Variety

“Feminism is not about berating or hating men or disliking or trying to make sure we’re better than men,” she says. “Feminism is just saying give me opportunities without judging me for the decisions that I make, the same freedom that men have enjoyed for so many centuries.”

And she says, “Feminism needs men.”

“It needs the men in their lives to stand up for their mothers, their sisters, their girlfriends, their wives, their daughters and say that I’m going to change the game for my future generation,” she says.

Chopra’s outspoken on her wildly popular social media accounts, which she admits has gotten her into trouble sometimes. But no matter. “I was raised to be fearless when it came to opinions,” she says, fondly recalling her father who passed away four years ago to cancer (she carries him with her with “Daddy’s Little Girl” tattooed on her forearm in his handwriting).

“My dad always used to tell me, ‘Women are always told say this or this is the right way to be or this is the right way to dress or this is the right way to speak,’” she recalls. “But my parents always said, ‘We believe in our upbringing. You’ll be fine.’”

Chopra is impassioned, too, about finding more roles for women on-screen, given that she faces what she calls the “double whammy” of not just a female actor, but a female actor of color.

“They’re still not being written for us as much as they should,” she says. “I’m digging my feet in and saying I will not settle for parts which are less, especially as a woman of color. I want to be able to play mainstream parts without the need in the storyline to describe why an Indian is playing an American.”

And she’s not going to rest until the opportunities are there not just for her, but for everyone. “Diversity needs to be normal, it should not be a novelty,” she says. “It should not be the conversation.”

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