Crown Jewel

BY Carita Rizzo | May 9, 2017 | Feature Features National

Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra gets real about how she went from aeronautical engineer in training to beauty queen to film star—and why high heels and her turn in "Baywatch" cemented her feminism.

Simply listening to Priyanka Chopra

navigate her bustling schedule, you cannot help but wonder if the Indian actress is a machine or superhuman. The 34-year-old is currently in New York City heading up the second season of the intense ABC thriller Quantico. On this particular Sunday—a rare “day off” for Chopra—she has just finished a photo shoot, is doing this interview, then taking “one or two” meetings and finally getting to the one thing she won’t compromise on: a good night’s sleep. “My one definite rule is I get eight hours of sleep. I have to fight for it with my team,” she says. “That’s something I try and maintain because then you can function at your optimum, and you can [work] crazy hours.”

“Crazy hours” doesn’t do it justice. For the actress who in less than two decades has amassed 50 movies on her résumé, Chopra’s career is in high gear right now. Aside from her role as FBI recruit Alex Parrish, which has won the actress two People’s Choice Awards, she is about to make her live-action U.S. film debut (she voiced a character in Disney’s Planes in 2013) in the highly anticipated Baywatch movie—a project she filmed during her hiatus and on weekends all while shooting Quantico. In the cheeky homage to the ’90s cult series, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron as Los Angeles lifeguards, Chopra plays villain Victoria Leeds, a powerful private-club owner who isn’t afraid of going toe to toe with her male costars—literally. “There’s this one scene in which I was supposed to threaten my henchmen. So, I take my heel and I put it in one of their toes, while having a conversation with them,” describes Chopra. “[During] the entire scene, my heel is in his foot. It was so much fun.”

The movie offer was one Chopra says she reacted to “with every part of her being.” One, it brings back happy memories from her childhood in India. “I used to love the show. Watching it was my mom’s and my tradition,” she says. “It was our favorite show, and I remember when the theme song would start, we’d run to the couch with popcorn and make a thing out of it.”

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