Beautycon: Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rowland Talk Inclusivity and Beauty Standards

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Beautycon

Chopra also opened up about her wedding to Nick Jonas: "I wasn't going to settle because I have a biological clock."

Thousands descended upon the Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday for Beautycon Festival L.A. 2019. Ulta handed out first-look samples of Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” fragrance and Target gave holographic beauty bags based on attendees’ astrological signs, while guests snapped photos at activations such as Too Faced’s pink “Damn Girl” sign.

On the main stage, stars from Priyanka Chopra to Kelly Rowland got deep about feminism and the continued need for female empowerment and inclusivity in the entertainment, fashion and beauty industries.

Chopra talked Saturday with Beautycon CEO Moj Mahdara about why women need to be better represented in every field and change the narrative about women tearing each other down. “People always ask me, 'Oh you're doing a movie with a female co-actor. Did you guys get along? Were there catfights?' But when it comes to boys, they say, 'Oh my gosh, that looks like a bromance and everyone got on so well.' So I feel like over time, because women have lack of opportunity, we were pitted against each other,” Chopra said.

She explained that the crux of the problem is the lack of opportunity for women: “The more opportunities we create for each other, the more sisterhood will grow.… The more I champion women in my own small way, maybe I'll be able to create a world around me at least where women run the show because we kind of do it really well.”

The Quantico actress said she started working at age 17 and remembers her mom telling her that “women should be financially independent. It doesn't matter who your father is, it doesn't matter who your husband is going to be,” Chopra recalled. “You need to be responsible for your finances and be financially independent. That really stuck with me.”

Thus she invests in companies like dating app Bumble, because she was always interested in technology and previously wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and go to space. Chopra helped bring Bumble to India, “which has a patriarchical society, which actually the world is,” she said. “We as women need to fight to change that.”

Wearing a white Victoria Beckham pantsuit with a sheer Christopher Bu blouse and Jimmy Choo’s Glinda bow heels, the beauty queen went on to talk about the need for more inclusivity in entertainment. “The standard of beauty that the world of entertainment actually has created is the culprit. And it's so beautiful the inclusivity that we're seeing now. It has a long way to go," she said.

Rowland also opened up at Beautycon about inclusivity, saying, “This industry has put a lot of boundaries on women.... I'm free.” When attending fashion shows in the 2000s, "I'll never forget looking up and down the runways" and noticing only two or three models of color. "I remember wanting to see texture. I remember wanting to see brown, you know what I mean? We just had Naomi or we had Tyra. It was very few,” Rowland said. “We have a long ways to go.”

She said colorism has played a role in her career and it was a “long journey” to embrace the color of her skin. “When I was a kid in the south, I remember there was a paper bag rule,” she said. The mother of a guy she dated disapproved because her skin was darker than a paper bag. “I've been turned down from covers, magazine covers, because I was brown-skinned,” Rowland said. “I actually gained my brown-skin girl voice through my fans.… I knew what my responsibility was and I held the torch for them.”

The singer further emphasized the importance of women supporting women: “Women have to hold themselves to higher standards and stop tearing each other down.” One example was her sisterhood with fellow Destiny’s Child alum Beyoncé. “What we share as sisters is so sweet,” Rowland said, adding that she is proud and envious of Beyoncé’s song “Brown Skin Girl.” “I was like, 'Damn this is a good song. Damn I wish it was mine.' But I'm so happy for her,” Rowland said. “We have an anthem!”

Chopra also opened up about her flashy wedding to Jonas Brothers singer Nick Jonas, breaking down the two wedding ceremonies and five receptions that took place over the course of three days in 2018. “I can't help it,” she said. “If you are South Asian...you understand that when someone gets married, everyone in your life needs to be a part of it.”

Since the ceremony had only 180 guests — "which is really small" — they hosted a couple receptions for everyone else (even her mom’s hairstylist). “Then we came to America. My in-laws were like, 'Well, we have friends, too, so we have to do that.' So it ended up being a few parties with a whole bunch of people,” Chopra said. “But the wedding was spectacular; it was so special.”

Mahdara asked why it was important to allow fans to see an interfaith wedding, and Chopra said it wasn’t something they intended to put on display for the world. “We wanted to keep this really private.… We were so happy and our families were so integrated, and it didn't matter what our religions were or which countries we came from.” She later added of her decision to marry in her mid-30s, “I took choices in my life where my career mattered to me and I hadn’t met the right guy yet. I wasn’t going to settle because I have a biological clock.”

Meanwhile, Beautycon attendees interacted with booths from brands including Huda Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Glossier, Ulta and more. Mahdara told The Hollywood Reporter that she sees Beautycon becoming a “new player” in curated content and commerce, as well as launching limited-edition brands and retail pop-ups.

As for women supporting women, she told THR that “we have to get over our personal differences, because if we're going to build a big business together, we're not going to always like each other. But it's not about liking each other. It's about building generational wealth, it's about building financial literacy, it's about making strong business moves,” Mahdara said. “If you want to look at an example of people that are doing it right, look at Anastasia, look at Huda, look at Rihanna, look at Beyoncé, look at Michelle Obama.”

Mahdara explained why inclusivity continues to be a priority in beauty. “Once we think it's inclusive, it's like, is it about disabilities? Is it about ethnicities? Is it about religion? Political views? I'm proud that we are hosting a place that has not only Maxine Waters coming to it, not only Hillary Clinton has been to it, but Kellyanne Conway felt comfortable enough to come with her children. That makes me very proud."

The weekend's L.A. convention fused politics with beauty by also hosting volunteers of the public awareness campaign “I am a voter” to encourage attendees to register to vote. It was valuable to bring that to the Beautycon audience, Mahdara said, because “getting people educated around [democracy] is a really important thing to us, especially as we head into 2020.”