Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a beloved Bollywood and Hollywood superstar, got her start in show business after winning the Miss World pageant in 2000. Since then, the 38-year old star has become a singer, film producer, and author. Chopra Jonas wrote her new memoir, Unfinished, (out February 9), during the global pandemic — she describes it as the “in-between interviews, the things I never spoke about.” In addition to releasing her first book, Chopra Jonas also just wrapped up filming Text for You, a Sony film, and is beginning production for an Amazon series, Citadel. At the same time, she’s starting her book tour and promoting two movies: We Can Be Heroes, and The White Tiger, both available now on Netflix. She currently lives in London with her Chihuahua Diana, while her husband, Nick Jonas, is at their home in Los Angeles.
The Cut’s editors do want to acknowledge that we missed the mark in a previous piece about Chopra Jonas, and we rightfully heard from our readers about it. This was a mistake, and we apologize to our readers as well as to Chopra Jonas and her husband, Nick Jonas. We’re happy to have spoken to her recently — here’s how she gets it done.
I wake up around 8 or 9 a.m. The first thing I do is look at my phone, which is the worst habit. I scour it. I make myself a large cup of espresso — I have an espresso machine in my bedroom — and that’s how my brain gets started. I’m trying to cut it down to a small, but at the moment it’s still a large. Because I work on two different continents, one of them is always awake, either the U.S. or India. L.A. and Mumbai are 12 hours apart. London is in between. So I always wake up to messages from one part of the world that was awake when I was sleeping. I check emails once a day, maybe, but I check my texts [right away]. I go on Instagram and Twitter and see what’s happening in the world. Considering how 2020 was, I would often wake up and expect the worst. I would have coffee and form opinions about what I think.
After breakfast, I work out on Zoom with my trainer. I get specific training for the next job I’m doing. Right now, that’s Citadel. I was never able to consistently work out before, but the quarantine helped me get into a routine of working out five days a week. And my husband helped me get it in order too. It consists of body weights, and it’s very functional and cardio-driven.
On the importance of eggs:
I eat two meals a day: brunch and dinner, and maybe a snack in the middle. I have to have eggs in the morning. Brunch is not complete if I don’t have eggs. Depending on my mood, either fried eggs, scrambled, or an omelette. Usually scrambled. With avocado toast, Hibiscus tea, orange juice, lots of water, some fruit. That’s usually my breakfast.
I signed the deal to write the book two years ago. Life was crazy. I was on a flight every two days, flying cross-continental. I was on 25 flights in a month. I never got around to doing it [the writing]. I stared at an empty page on my computer. I tried to write in a journal, but I was blocked. Then the pandemic happened and I had a chance to pause and introspect deeply. When Nick and I were home in L.A., we had a chance to build our home, and I had this beautiful view that overlooks Hollywood. I would sit there or on the sofa set with my computer and sometimes a journal, and write what I remembered.
I’m terrified at the book coming out and people getting to know me so up-close and personal. This book is burdened with all of my insecurities, fears, and vulnerabilities. It was a cathartic process, writing it, and it poured out of me.
On Zoom press tours:
I’m promoting We Can Be Heroes and my new movie The White Tiger, both on Netflix. I’m doing a press tour that would normally be done in studios with the cacophony of hair and makeup and wardrobe people — now it’s just me doing my own hair and makeup, and my wardrobe gets dropped off and I pick out my clothes. I try to get through the technology disasters that happen to me and everyone who’s doing these virtual meetings at home.
On nighttime routines:
I take a break at 6:30 or 7 p.m. for an early dinner, but only because I’m training for a job — otherwise I wouldn’t be so disciplined. I usually have protein vegetables. I love exploring gastronomical experiences from different parts of the world — Vietnamese chicken with zucchini noodles, Lebanese food, Greek, Thai. And after that, I get on to a few more meetings till about 9:00. Then it’s time for reading or watching TV. Right now I’m watching all the Academy screeners — all the movies that are in consideration for an Oscar. My production company has a first-look deal with Amazon, and we’re providing content to them, and a second deal with CBS Viacom, so I always have a script by my bedside. I’m always behind on them, much to the chagrin of my execs. I need to spend some time on my face before bed — I do my nightly routine, take off makeup, moisturize. I try to time myself to get about seven to eight hours of sleep a night, because that’s when I function the best. When I see that I’m [about to hit my time limit] that’s when I go to bed, usually by 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
In India, there’s a large service industry. But here, I’m very house-proud. I’m always walking around the house doing as much as I can. Picking things up. I hate seeing a sink with dishes in it. I don’t like a wet sink either, or a bathroom with towels thrown around. I need to make my bed when I get out of my room. I’m very specific about cleaning. I can’t cook, so that’s usually a delivery service that comes to me, especially during the pandemic.
On social-media criticism:
Girl, I learned how to deal with that in a year or so [into my career]. Now I’ve been a public person for most of my life — it comes with brickbats and bouquets. You make that deal with the devil, the fact that I’m going to do this job, and I’m for consumption, news about me is for consumption — I made peace with that 20 years ago. So it doesn’t bother me unless it affects my work or my family. But my job is tangible. I go to a set, I create a movie, a TV show. This is what my work is. The freedom and beauty of social media is to create a medium for conversations. I have a tremendous amount of love and support on my social media from people who are interested or curious. At the same time, my relationship with social media changed after large, obscure “scandals” or chatter online that were baffling to me. I’m not as free, open, or vulnerable as I used to be. I monitor my relationship with the internet. I consume it for the positives.
On long-distance marriage:
Nick and I have atypical careers. Under non-pandemic circumstances, we would be in different time zones. It takes a deliberate effort from both Nick and I and our team to manage our schedules and make sure we can see each other as often as we can. That usually includes him coming to me where I’m working, or me going to him where he’s working, and taking time off from our careers. There are a lot of moving parts.
I’m glad we live in the time of technology. My parents were in the military, and my dad would be posted in obscure places and my mom wouldn’t hear from him for days. I moved to the U.K. [last fall] for a year because I’m doing a movie and then a TV show here, and Nick had time off, so he came for November and December to settle me in. He stayed here, he got our house set up with me, and I feel super settled. That’s the thing about having a partnership — we both admire and appreciate each other’s career and that helps us navigate this scary thing called scheduling.
On avoiding isolation during the pandemic:
Whenever I feel crazy or frustrated I call someone who will listen and understand where I’m coming from. My friends or family, or even my team. That’s the one thing this year has really taught me. There are two ways to deal with the mixed emotions we’re all really feeling. One way is to isolate ourselves and make it internal. But I’m in touch with my family and friends so much more. I make the effort to connect, because it was such a scary thing to be taken away. Something we all take for granted.