By Pratik Desai '17
Priyanka Chopra, for those of us who are unfamiliar, is an Indian actress. And a former pageant queen. And a cover model. And now, an international renaissance woman. What is not commonly known about her is that, behind the smiles the ravishing starlet dons, is a past full of criticism. Priyanka has been criticized throughout her career for falling short in many respects; in her appearance, her versatility as an actress, and in an increasingly youth-centric film industry in India, her age (she is 33 years old). But these criticisms have done little to hold her back.
In many respects, Priyanka is the model Boothie, often venturing out into territory most of her peers would avoid. From playing the role of a mute girl in Barfi, to learning new languages for complex roles, to launching a career in music with international pop icon Pitbull, to becoming the face of critically acclaimed ABC drama Quantico, she has in fact created her own formula for success. None of her contemporaries have been able to accomplish as much, because few were brave enough to try something new.
Criticism can lead to fear of failure, and this fear can overcome us all, particularly in business school. We have all heard horror stories of, “if you don’t do XYZ, you won’t be successful.” We can do a better job at building our next generation of leaders by cultivating a selfless spirit of positivity amongst one another and drowning out notions of fear and self-doubt. Rather than feed it, we should encourage each other to be brave and to be unique.
It’s difficult not to follow the herd out of fear when you hear about your peers attending a coffee chat hosted by McKinsey or flocking to hear some guest speaker. But what if you don’t really care about either? Why attend? What about our true passions? Do we need to be in all places, doing all things, at all times, because someone told us that we had to cover up for a dozen different deficiencies? A better idea is to do something because you want to - and on your own terms - not because you think you have to. What Priyanka has shown through her resilience is a willingness to follow what acclaimed American poet Robert Frost refers to as “the road less traveled.” Much to the chagrin of her critics.
Priyanka has drawn upon her experiences as an Indian army brat and exchange student to pursue her eclectic interests. Her career was not a straight line at all, and in fact, spans several functional areas, continents, and languages. In an interview, she said, “since I am trying to think out of the box and push the envelope a little bit, it is fine if criticism comes...” With a little bit of courage, we could choose not to become victims of fear or self-doubt and do the same - daring to be different.
Pratik is a self-described Indophile, provocateur, musician, poet, animal lover, avid volunteer, and tech enthusiast.