At the after-party following the glamorous event, Chopra says she and Master of None star Aziz Ansari looked around the room and marveled at how much Hollywood has diversified recently.
“Aziz said, ‘A couple of years ago at this gala, I saw, like, one other brown person,’ ” she tells PEOPLE. ” ‘And today there were, like, six of us in that room!’ ”
Yes, there’s still a way to go, “and the struggle is really real,” says the star, 34, whose ABC drama Quantico was just renewed for a third season. “People want to put you in a box. When I started out, people at auditions would be like, ‘Can you use your Indian accent?’ And I’m like, ‘I am speaking in my Indian accent. This is how we speak in modern India!”
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A Bollywood megastar before she found fame in Hollywood, she says she is focused on playing strong female characters.
“I love playing tough — well, not tough, but strong and powerful characters,” she says. “Which doesn’t mean only action and killing people. Whether it’s being a homemaker, whether it’s being a daughter, I just love characters that give me depth and the ability to do more.”
Baywatch hits theaters on May 25.