Last week, JustJared gave our friend and yours, Priyanka Chopra, their spotlight treatment — which consisted of a set of dazzling photos and a remarkably in-depth Q&A. In fact, we loved it so much we realized that it had the kind of narrative treatment that many broadcast, print, and digital outlets currently offering coverage of Chopra have been unable to provide. That is, they get that Chopra’s a global superstar. Many other outlets are not so quick on the uptake, quick to diminish her success or qualify it as something that’s only valid in some far-away part of the world.
Anyone with connections to the South Asian community knows of her. That means that people in the U.S. know her. This 2012 report from the BBC breaks down the truly global reach of Bollywood:
Bollywood films are popular in Europe and North America with large settled immigrant communities who relate to stories from south Asia…However Bollywood films have a strong following in Afghanistan, central and south east Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
As far as media’s power players go, the only exceptions to this kind of willful ignorance appear to be The Wall Street Journal and Variety — both of which have South Asian correspondents. Both publications talk about the star’s repertoire, her icon status, and her career trajectory the way a U.S. outlet might cover Julia Roberts or Jennifer Lawrence:
“On “The Front Row” this week, Bollywood critic Anupama Chopra chats with actor-turned pop singer Priyanka Chopra about her switch to music, thriving under pressure, and competing with younger women in the film industry.” — WSJ
“Former Miss World winner[,]an award-winning actress, recording artist with U.S. debut single due out this summer” — Variety
They, like JustJared, get that Chopra’s a big deal. Meanwhile, a run-down of some of some outlets that can’t seem to grasp the concept of a country besides the U.S. having an industry to crank out superstars with global influence follows below:
“She is already very, very famous…on the other side of the planet.” — Nightline
“Priyanka Chopra is one of the biggest movie stars on this earth. She sings, she dances. She smoulders. Revered by men, idolized by women, there are parts of the world she physically cannot walk down the street, she’s so famous. And you’ve probably never heard of her.” — Nightline
“Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra recently became the first Indian woman to ever land a Guess campaign, shot by Bryan Adams (yes, that Bryan Adams, and yes, these are Guess’s most gorgeous ads ever)” — New York Magazine
“Guess’s newest face, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, may not be a household name in the U.S. yet” — Women’s Wear Daily
“With over 40 films under her belt, Priyanka Chopra is known the world over as one of Bollywood’s highest paid actresses. But America is just now getting acquainted with the former Miss World as she embarks on her new career of pop star.” — MTV
“Priyanka Chopra is not a household name in the United States, but the Bollywood actress and singer will try to change that on Thursday night when she kicks off the National Football League’sThursday Night Football game with her single ‘In My City’.” — Reuters
“Priyanka Chopra may be a veritable superstar in her native India—she’s an actress and singer and won the Miss World title in 2000—but unless you’re a Bollywood aficionado, you may not have heard of her…until now.” — Glamour
“But when Disney opens its 3-D film “Planes” on Friday, it will include a voice unfamiliar to filmgoers on this side of the world: Priyanka Chopra.” — Los Angeles Times
“Priyanka Chopra’s transition from Bollywood superstar to global phenomenon is gaining momentum.” — Idolator
I don’t know whether it’s just lazy journalism that begets such trite leads about Chopra not being a household name, or qualifies her celebrity by adding she’s famous “only in her native India” or “on the other side of the planet” — but it’s a kind of other-ing that is probably inevitable as Chopra negotiates a famously insular and xenophobic entertainment industry.
After all, the Bollywood industry earns upwards of $100M in North America alone, through ticket sales and merchandising — to be unaware of that when you’re writing about one of the industry’s top earners is to simply not do your homework.