Priyanka Chopra Looks Back on Her Wild First Year on American TV (Guest Column)

Priyanka Chopra ELLE's 6th Annual Women In Television Dinner - H 2016
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images

A year ago, Priyanka Chopra was being trotted out on stage at ABC's upfront presentation alongside the network's biggest stars — Shondaland's Ellen Pompeo and Kerry Washington. It was the first step in a long journey the international star and former Miss World 2000 took in her efforts to continue her global rise to stardom as the star of an American TV series.

In the year since, ABC's Quantico became one of the breakout freshman dramas of the 2015-16 broadcast season, with Chopra's image plastered across the country on billboards and busses. Today, Chopra is spending her hiatus from Quantico on the set of Baywatch, where she's co-starring opposite Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Zac Efron.

After detailing her incredible journey to last year's upfronts — from series pickup to hitting the ABC afterparties, Chopra returns to write a follow-up guest column for THR in which she details the seven biggest lessons she learned in the past year.

As the curtains came down on season one of Quantico on Sunday, it was a culmination of an incredible journey that began almost a year ago. I'm no clairvoyant, which is evident by the fact that I could not have predicted the outcome to this particular journey … not by a long shot! There is no way I could have predicted the amazing reception and support that Quantico has received this season or even the way that I have been welcomed into the fold here in America. 

I started out with just a desire to try something new lodged in my head; with hope of making new connections, building in my heart and a fist full of determination, carried in my hands! That’s all I packed for on this trip to a new tomorrow.

It’s been, as clichéd as it sounds, a rollercoaster ride. It’s not the gentle little thrill you find at your local county fair … but a knock-your-socks-off, screaming-for-your-life ride of a lifetime. Every turn, every stomach-churning drop and every steep climb on those tracks taught me a new lesson, each of which has been seared into my memory. 

Here are a few of my most important lessons.

• Don’t restrict the "view" for yourself. Be focused but not myopic … think about the bigger picture.

• The world is smaller than you think. Since I came from another part of the world, I expected many differences in the way things worked but at the end of the day, there actually were more similarities between the American and Indian entertainment industry. The same chaos, creativity, passion and genius all around. The most obvious distinction being the language with which I delivered my lines.

• Familiarity and comfort can sometimes weigh you down. Being very far away from anything familiar is very difficult and to be able to start from scratch was very hard for me but at the same time it gave me a new perspective on many things. I think it made me more aware and actually helped with my performance.

• TV is brutal. I’m a film girl. We have specific time frames and we take our time to create; we breathe! TV is frenetic, more so because of the sheer amount of content that needs to be created for every episode times 22! The hours are killer, the pace nonstop. No one sent me the memo. 

• Every week is judgment day. With feature films, it’s a one-time judgment once your film is premiered. Reviews, box office and then you move on to the next project. With TV, you are being rated and judged weekly for an eight-month stretch.

• Trust in yourself. Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent. 

• Hard work and perseverance. Take it everywhere you go!

Has it been worth it? Hell yeah! I miss home. I miss being back on set for a film back in India. I miss my friends. I miss my dog. But I’ve also created a new home (one that fits into a suitcase). I’ve made new friends. Shot for a feature film here (playing Baywatch's bad girl) and made many of my friends' pets my own. I know now that I can balance between my two worlds. It’s not easy but I’ve found my way. 

Quantico has been renewed for a second season and that in itself is a special feeling. It’s the ultimate stamp of approval from the audience and the network powers that be. We created something special and we get to do it all over again. What more can a girl ask for?