In her new series Citadel, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is proving to be the ultimate badass in more ways than one.
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A flirty multilingual exchange between two impossibly attractive secret agents. A carefully choreographed fight scene on a speeding train. A league of rogue spies banded together to form an elite superleague to fight evil. From the moment Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ new spy action thriller opens, it is clear that the Russo brothers-produced Amazon Prime Video series was crafted to nod to the genre’s greats (Bond, Bourne, etc.). Yet, add in the secret weapons of a record-breaking $300 million production budget, a flurry of international spin-offs and global superstar (and former Miss World) Chopra Jonas—and it is abundantly clear the code for global domination has been cracked.
In the highly anticipated spy series Citadel, Chopra Jonas co-leads alongside Richard Madden. Chopra Jonas plays Nadia Sinh, a spy who teams up with her former partner, Mason Kane (Madden), to stop a mysterious organization called Manticore from taking control of the world. With a notably diverse cast and scenes filmed in multiple languages, Citadel reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the fictional spy agency it depicts. “I think the scene with the multiple languages sets the tone for the fact that these spies are global and that our characters work for a global organization,” Chopra Jonas says of the global nature of the show.
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The espionage genre clearly has enduring appeal, as Chopra Jonas notes. “I think the genre of spies and espionage is something that has captivated the audience’s minds for a very long time,” she offers. “Then you throw in a hot, sparky relationship with amazing banter. It’s bound to intrigue people. So, leaning into the spy genre was something that the writers really wanted to do.”
Her experience doing stunts in Bollywood films gave Chopra Jonas confidence for the physically demanding role. “Having had stunting from my Bollywood movies and my work in Hollywood has made me trust my body,” she says of doing much of her own stunt work, noting that the Russo brothers also added their signature Marvel power. “The Russo brothers are wonderful to work with. Their vision for everything is always bigger than the last idea they had,” Chopra Jonas says. “So I had the amazing ability to work very closely with them, learn from them and be pushed to play a character that is so complex—or in such a complex world anyway, I really needed to lean on them. … And also, they love food, and I trust people who eat,” she says emphatically.
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Known for her hardworking approach to all projects, there is no doubt the series is headed for success. Chopra Jonas hopes the show achieves its goal of appealing to a global audience. “I’m hoping that the show is a success and reaches many audiences around the world,” she says. “Hopefully, we can tell multiple stories in conjunction with the series that has just come out because that was the intention of the show, to cross-pollinate and combine global audiences from around the world. So I’m really excited about being able to do that and hope we can go all the way.”
Chopra Jonas proudly obtained pay parity with her male co-star for the role. And she carefully notes that she feels the onus should be on industries to push for pay equality. “I think this is not a mindset shift that women need to make across industries,” she says. “I think industries need to shift that mindset for women toward women. I think that if you have a similar contribution to your male colleague, then your remuneration should be similar, if not the same. And that’s something that women for a long time have not even questioned or told ourselves that we can achieve—including me. I think that whenever the opportunity is right, we have to be able to have self-worth and demand our value.”
As a new mother, balancing family and a demanding career requires focus. “Having a sense of balance with your partner and your family is very important to be able to pull that off. I leaned on my husband, and he came through when I was filming the series, but work-life balance is really important,” she shares of life with her husband, Nick Jonas. “This is my career, and this is what I do for a living. But being able to find the time to prioritize what’s important is crucial.”
Although she has achieved much, Chopra Jonas still sees room for growth. “I feel like I still have a long way to go in my English language work or in Hollywood,” she says. “I would love to be able to delve deep into my acting work in this part of the world.” Look out, America, Miss World has her sights set on you.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF TRUNK ARCHIVE