“I’ve been here in Marrakech before, but I’m very excited to be given a tribute tonight, It feels a little appropriate that it’s happening right now especially on the square as next year is going to mark 20 years since I debuted in the Entertainment business. I feel very humbled.” Said Priyanka Chopra in a meeting with the press earlier on the day of her tribute.
She is an actress, singer, and UN Goodwill ambassador. After almost twenty years in the entertainment business, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has grown to be one of the influential individuals on the planet, and it all started when she won Miss World 2000 pageant at 18.
“I have always been able to use my influence in terms of philanthropy, of creativity and arts,” Priyanka said when asked about how she uses her influence. “I am able to speak my opinion whenever I have one, as a citizen of the world, to maybe give people perspective that they might not have seen because of my travels and the people that I might meet. I try to do that as much as I can.”
On meeting people of different backgrounds she said that she loves cultures. “I love experiencing different things I’m curious about different people. Today, I think people worldwide are sometimes scared of difference. As soon as we encounter a different person we’d rather not offend them or say the wrong thing, so we create a distance. Whereas we should create curiosity to ask about it.” Talking about her experience in the US as a teenager she said: “it wasn’t always easy for sure and I was bullied but that thought me so much about the people.”
Priyanka then returned to India where she started her career. Things escalated to her taking offers in Hollywood where she met her husband, Nick Jonas, with whom she had one of the most public weddings.
“We’ve only put out photos the next day and yet received amazing feedback, we felt so blessed and we have even talked about this so much. I think people loved the fact that two completely different cultures can come together in a very harmonious way. That’s what I take away from it.”
However, upon the news of their union, the couple received harsh criticism on the age gap between them. “Most guys end up marrying younger women, and I feel like it only becomes a conversation when the woman is older. It never was a conversation for us, it was more of a conversation for the world.”
As a UN Goodwill Ambassador who champions the cause of children’s education, Priyanka explained “there are so many displaced kids right now especially at this time, that’s a whole generation of children that will not have a chance in the future which makes them extremely vulnerable to extremists and radical ideas. So we have to care about these children.”
But what is the job of a celebrity when it comes to philanthropic activities? “I’m glad you asked that question. We are a means to an end, we are not an end. What we do as ambassadors, is we take time from our lives and we volunteer it to go to places of crisis so that we can bring the media’s attention. That way we are highlighting the voices of these children when we tell their stories. So that’s the job of an ambassador is to use your platform to magnify the voices of people that might not have one.”
Not only is the star idolized in Bollywood and the US, but she’s also admired in Morocco, “Every time I’ve come to the Arabic world, I’ve received so much love and affection. Somehow, and you must tell me, how do people in Morocco speak Hendi so well ?!” When asked to deliver a message for the women in the Arab region she said “women are the roots of society. They are mothers, nurturers, loving, kind… So eventually, every woman has to recognize what her dream is. What happens everywhere in the world, it’s often decided for a woman what she should do or what her life should be like. And that’s not feminist. So I would tell women everywhere, it’s a conversation with yourself, figure out what your dream is, and love yourself no matter what your circumstances are.”
With such a worldwide recognition and success, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is now thankful for her entire life. “In terms of destiny and what I’m really grateful for, is that It always pushed me in the right direction.”
When asked if she fears that too many privileges might spoil her, Priyanka highlighted the importance of her family in her life, “I come from a middle class and ordinary background. And my family is still the same. I know that when I finish work and go back home I have the ability to sit on the floor near my mother, who’ll be putting oil on my hair… I love having the normalcy of family. It keeps you really grounded.”
On Thursday evening, December 5th, Priyanka went to Marrakech’s iconic Place Jemaa el Fna, to receive a tribute in an open-air stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd, against a background of smoke-spewing food stalls, tattoo artists and snake charmers.