Priyanka Chopra on diversity: The ‘Girl Next Door’ should look like the girl next door

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Elle.com (by Priyanka Chopra): 

Priyanka Chopra can’t easily be summed up in a sentence. The former Miss World (she won the title in 2000) is a Bollywood star, recording artist, model (in December 2013 she became the first Indian GUESS girl), humanitarian (she’s a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador), and activist (she promotes the education of girls in India through her namesake charity, The Priyanka Chopra Foundation). All that in one person? Sounds like Chopra, or PC as her friends call her, would have to be superhuman to pull it all off. Only she isn’t. Like us, she struggles to get enough sleep, worries too much, and can’t resist her junk food cravings.

How do we know? Because she told us. And every month on ELLE.com, in a new column, “Pret-a-Priyanka,” Chopra will open up about her life, struggles, and her guilty pleasures. In this month’s column, PC talks diversity.  

I consider myself a citizen of a world. I’ve gone to school in India and the U.S. My career in entertainment has allowed me to travel the globe and interact with many cultures. But my first brush with the world of entertainment—and, really, the world in general—happened in 2000 at the Miss World competition, where I had the privilege of interacting and competing with girls from over 130 countries. It was an overwhelming experience for me to learn so many aspects of so many different cultures, to experience first-hand the similarities and the differences that we had, and most importantly to seamlessly come together into one big unit.

I remember returning to India following my win and meeting so many young girls who told me that my achievement on a world stage was an inspiration for them, giving them hope that the world was truly their oyster.  At 17, all that kind of talk was a little too intense for me to compute but I heard it very very often through the various stages of my career.  It gave me a few ‘pat yourself on your back’ kind of moments, but I mostly chalked it off to people being kind.

I am a girl from a small town in India, the daughter of two hard-working army doctors who achieved a certain success through hard work and determination.  I understood that it was my underdog story that offered hope to all the young people who nurtured a dream for themselves.  I tried my best to encourage people to look at the world as a place of opportunity and to just give their dreams a shot.

But the actual reality of my ‘celebrity status’ (for lack of a better phrase) and what it meant hit me quite recently. It wasn’t until I made my debut internationally, first with my music (I have released four singles so far in English) and then with the campaign I did for Guess Worldwide, that my “fame” really sunk in.

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My debut single ‘In My City‘ featuring will.I.am was chosen as the theme song for NFL‘s Thursday Night Football for two years in a row.  Suddenly, there was this brown girl (their words not mine) from India who became a part of this quintessential American culture.  And then came the Guess campaign.  The all-American blonde bombshell was replaced by a dusky, brunette Indian girl!

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I was proud to be a part of both these milestones and very happily took on the role of brand ambassador of South Asia and India to the world.  I wasn’t being positioned as “Indian” in any way for either of these initiatives, I was simply being me: an artist sharing her creative self with the world.  But the reality of the bigger picture of both these initiatives hit me after an interaction with a young American of Indian descent. (A little context before I continue: India has a population of over 1.2 billion people and also, importantly, a vast diaspora. While some may have become citizens and passport holders of another nation, somewhere they still have a connection to India.) This young lady came up to me in the airport and gave me a hug and said “Thank you for making us relevant.”  I was stunned at the comment and asked her to explain.  She said she was second-generation Indian, born and brought up in the US.  Her family still had strong ties with India.  She said that most people still equated our culture to speaking like Apu from The Simpsons or living in a country of snake charmers and elephants!  She said with the NFL and Guess, I proved that we are much more than that and that we are ‘cool’ too.  She said “You broke the norm… the quintessential all-American girl has changed…. She can be of any ethnicity and culture…for the first time in my life I feel like it can be me too!”  That conversation was a real eye opener for me. It inspired me  to champion the cause of diversity in entertainment and media.

I was reminded of that experience recently when the news of my developmental deal with ABC Networks was announced.  It all began with a chance meeting with the fiery Keli Lee (EVP of Casting at ABC) and a continued conversation aided by my equally fiery manager Anjula Acharia Bath. Both of these ladies have been on a mission to embrace and to celebrate diversity in the United States.  In her role at ABC, Keli has pioneered diversity at the network, scouting talent from around the world, and casting strong female diverse talent in top dramas–like my friend Kerry Washington in Scandaland Sofia Vergara in Modern Family. Similarly, Anjula has championed South Asians in music and entertainment. Collectively, their efforts are bridging cultures from around the world through pop culture and entertainment.

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So why is that important you ask?  What exactly is the true meaning of diversity?

In my opinion, diversity means the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, gender, or sexual orientation, and it is the responsibility of the entertainment community to mirror the world we actually live in every day. To create a screen that shows color—not only black and white, but also brown, Asian, Hispanic, gay, and transgender—and cast an image of the “girl next door” that actually looks like the girls next door with roots from countries around the world.

Diversity is the one thing that we all have in common, and so I hope—as I prepare for my long-term stay in LA at the end of this month, adding a new layer to my career—that my presence on your television is accepted for the characters I portray, and not judged by where I come from. We are, after all, citizens of the same world!

Best Asian American athletes in 2014


Northwest Asian Weekly (By Jason Cruz)

It was another stellar year for API sports.

It started off with Doug Baldwin and the Seattle Seahawks bringing home the team’s first ever Super Bowl and a parade that seemingly the whole city of Seattle came to see.

The Winter Olympics were a bit of a disappointment for Asian Americans. Mirai Nagusa was denied making the U.S. women’s figure skating team despite making the top three.

J.R. Celski earned a Silver medal in the men’s Short Track 5000-meter relay but failed to medal in any of the three individual events he competed in.

Julie Chu, the first Asian American woman to play for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team ended her career with a Silver medal for the U.S. team. However, her quest for Gold was thwarted just three minutes before the end of the Gold Medal Game against Canada. With the U.S. up 2-0, Canada made a furious comeback and scored two goals in three minutes to send the game into overtime where Team Canada scored another goal for the Gold. Chu played in an unprecedented four Olympics and was the U.S. Olympic team’s Flag Bearer for the closing ceremonies.

In April, Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring and avenged a controversial loss to Tim Bradley by winning a convincing unanimous decision.

The World Cup was held in Brazil in June and the two Asian nations competing, South Korea and Japan, did not fare well. Both were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Also in June, Michelle Wie won her first major golf championship with a win at the U.S. Women’s Open. At the same tournament, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women’s Open.

University of Washington men’s golf team member Cheng-Tsung Pan played in the British Open in July. The UW junior earned the spot by tying for second at a qualifying event in Thailand. This fall, Pan decided to turn pro.

The U.S. Tennis Open featured great runs by 24-year-old Japanese star Kei Nishikori and China’s Peng Shuai.

Nishikori, who was coached by Chinese American Michael Chang, made it all the way to the men’s final before losing to Milos Raonic.

Shuai made a surprising run to the semifinals where she had to retire (forfeit) due to continued leg cramps.

Absent from the women’s side of the tournament was Li Na who announced her retirement in September.

In October, Apolo Ohno finished the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

November saw Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring as he destroyed Chris Algieri. Pacquiao’s next opponent…Floyd Mayweather?

In December, the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s biggest individual award.
Mariota becomes the first Asian Pacific Islander to win the trophy.

And without further ado, here are the top 10 API athletes of 2014:

10. Harley Kirsch

Kirsch, who is part Korean, was the quarterback for the Eastside Catholic High School team that defeated the vaunted Bellevue High School football team to win the Washington state class 3A football championship. Located in Sammamish, Washington, the school ended Bellevue’s 67 game winning streak. Kirsch is only a junior and will return next season to lead Eastside Catholic.

9. Amelia Andrilenas

The junior gymnast at Juanita High School qualified for the state meet and placed first, second, and fourth in all-around meets during the 2013-2014 season.

For the outsider, the most astonishing thing about the 4’11” gymnast is that she has only one hand. Andrilenas, who was adopted from China, took up gymnastics at an early age and has excelled since.

8. Jeremy Lin

Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason to complement Kobe Bryant. So far, Lin has not done much to help Kobe. He’s averaging just 10 points for the currently 9 win and 22 loss Lakers. He did score a season high 21 points in the Lakers’ first win. While he is far-removed from the days of New York and Linsanity, he still is a contributing member of the Lakers who hope to rebuild.

7. Tim Lincecum

It seems that every other year Lincecum and his San Francisco Giants seem to win a World Series. The Giants won baseball’s World Series this year making it three times in the past five years that the team has won the title. Lincecum, who is a Washington native and part Filipino, pitched his second-career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in June. He also picked up his 100th career win this past September. Although Lincecum played sparingly in the World Series, he picks up his third ring.

6. Chloe Kim

At only 14, Kim was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but the snowboarder did earn silver in the “superpipe” at this year’s Winter X Games. Look for the Korean American to make the next team in the 2018 Winter Olympics which are in her parents’ home country of South Korea.

5. Julie Chu

A pioneer in the field of women’s hockey as Chu was the first Asian American to be on the women’s team and the first to play in four Olympics. She also starred in a commercial with her mother shown during the Winter Olympics.

4. Mirai Nagusa

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was denied a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s figure skating team despite winning the Bronze medal at the U.S. Championships. Usually, the top three are awarded spots on the Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating committee determined that Ashley Wagner, the fourth place finisher make the team based on Wagner’s stronger international record. Although it was reported that Nagusa would appeal the decision, she later decided not to pursue it.

3. Apolo Ohno

The Olympic medalist is keeping busy in retirement. Last year he ran the New York Marathon. This year, he has completed one of the most grueling events out there, the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Ohno finished in 9 hours, 52 minutes and 27 seconds. What will he do next?

2. Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Duck won the Heisman Trophy in December and leads his team into the first College Football Playoff. Mariota is certain to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Doug Baldwin

It’s pretty easy to pick Baldwin as he was a key part of the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year and remains one of Russell Wilson’s most valuable receivers. Hopefully, we’ll see Baldwin (and the rest of the Seahawks) with another Super Bowl ring in 2015.

 

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Now the NFL wants $16.6 million from M.I.A. for her Super Bowl middle finger

Back in September, M.I.A. (and her attorneys) raised a stink about the NFL’s $1.5 million lawsuit over the rapper’s 2012 middle finger salute during the Super Bowl halftime show. Now comes news that the NFL is actually seeking an additional $15.1 million in compensatory damages from M.I.A., a figure that the rapper’s team says “lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic.”While the 167 million households watching the game may have seen the Sri Lankan rapper’s middle finger, lawyer Howard King notes that NFL viewers have seen far worse before.

Several years ago, halftime performer Prince pretended to masturbate, and Michael Jackson repeatedly grabbed his crotch during his 1993 halftime performance. The league also assigned a 15-yard penalty to a player for using “the n-word” on the field this year, something that definitely seems a little worse than a quick flip of the bird. Consider, also, the case of alleged NFL madman and future Onion employee Richie Incognito, who’s been under fire for his racist, aggressive behavior toward teammates in the Miami Dolphins locker room.

King says the NFL’s attempt to fine M.I.A. is “transparently an exercise by NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL” and also alleges that, if M.I.A. is held at fault, then NBC should also be held at fault for “not activating the ‘5 second delay’ system in place for the broadcast.”

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Now the NFL wants $16.6 million from M.I.A. for her Super Bowl middle finger

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Miami Dolphins’ head trainer fired over racial bullying of Japanese assistant trainer

AsAm News:

Kevin O'Neill

NBC Sports is reporting that Miami Dolphin head trainer Kevin O’Neill has been fired over the racial harassment of his Japanese assistant.

According to the Ted Wells report commissioned by the NFL into Richie Incognito, O’Neill stood by and did nothing while Incognito, and teammates John Jerry and Mike Pouncey hurled racial slurs and insults at the Japanese trainer.

The report read:

On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that
featured a rising sun emblem (which
the Assistant Trainer had given them) and jokingly
threatened to harm the
Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor
attack. According to Martin,the
Assistant Trainer confided in him that he was upset
about the Pearl Harbor comments, finding them derogatory toward his heritage.
Martin and another player we interviewed both believed that the Assistant Trainer
awkwardly laughed along with some of the racial insults, even though he was in
fact offended.

The report also says:

Martin claims that a number of Dolphins employees saw how
the Assistant Trainer was humiliated but did not intervene, including
his supervisor, head trainer Kevin O’Neill, who
allegedly even laughed at some of the racial insults.
As far as we know, none of the players, including Martin, confronted Incognito, Jerry
or Pouncey about the racist comments directed at the Assistant Trainer or demanded that they cease.

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Miami Dolphins’ head trainer fired over racial bullying of Japanese assistant trainer

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Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito hurled racist jokes at Japanese trainer

AsAm News:

 

Controversial Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito is accused of making racist and sexist remarks toward players and other team personnel in an independent investigation commissioned by the NFL.

Fansided reports that the Wells Report implicates Incognito and teammates John Jerry and Mike Pouncey of racially bullying a Japanese team trainer and mocking him on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

The trio also reportedly threatened retaliation against the trainer.

Deadspin article states the three directed racist slurs at the trainer including such words as “Jap” and “Chinaman.”

They also called him a “dirty communist” and “North Korean.”

It gets worse.

One comment made to the trainer included “give me some water you fucking chink,” according to the Wells Report.

They also mocked an Asian accent and requested “rubby rubby sucky sucky.”

The report also details remarks made about blacks, gays, and women.

 

Racial taunting of an Asian-American trainer:

Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey admitted that they directed racially derogatory words toward him, including “Jap” and “Chinaman.” At times, according to Martin, they referred to the Assistant Trainer as a “dirty communist” or a “North Korean,” made demands such as “give me some water you fucking chink,” spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for “rubby rubby sucky sucky,” and called his mother a “rub and tug masseuse.” Martin and others informed us that Incognito and Jerry taunted the Assistant Trainer with jokes about having sex with his girlfriend. Incognito admitted that these types of comments were made to the Assistant Trainer.

On December 7, 2012 (the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor), Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands that featured a rising sun emblem and jokingly threatened to harm the Assistant Trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. Martin reported that the Assistant Trainer confided to him that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor prank, finding it derogatory and demeaning.

 

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Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito hurled racist jokes at Japanese trainer

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Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013

The year 2013 was another one for Asian American athletes. Last year was all about Linsanity, as Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to be the toast of the NBA. This year, Lin was not as big, although a documentary about his life and road to stardom was released this year.

The year began with the confusing tale of former Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. It was discovered that the linebacker, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, had a girlfriend he never met. And then it was discovered that the girlfriend did not exist. Te’o, who had a clean-cut image before this news broke, had to explain what happened and why he had a girlfriend he talked to but never actually saw in person. It was discovered that Te’o was a victim of online “catfishing,” which occurs when someone pretends to be someone they are not. It proved to be an embarrassing moment for Te’o and he spent the second half of 2013 staying out of the spotlight, which was probably a good thing.

Dennis Rodman made friends with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un. Yes, this actually happened. The former Chicago Bull made a trip to North Korea and hit it off with the leader of one of the Axes of Evil. The North Korean dictator is a fan of the NBA and Rodman, which may only hurt diplomatic relations between the countries.

Locally, Hishashi Iwakuma emerged as a star for the fledgling Seattle Mariners and was a finalist for the Cy Young Award in the American League. The award is given to the best pitcher in baseball.

The effort to bring professional basketball to Seattle was once again thwarted. Indian American Vivek Ranadive bought the Sacramento Kings in order to keep them in Sacramento, stopping its move to Seattle.

High School swimmer Edward Kim is a dominant force in the pool for Eastlake High School. Kim has won multiple state titles and back-to-back Class 4A Swimmer of the Meet awards.

Tegan, 11, and Taylan, 16, Yuasa are nationally ranked Judo practitioners in their respective age groups. Both brothers have won local and national competitions in their respective divisions.  Stay tuned to these guys in the next couple years — we may see them in the Olympics.

Honorable Mentions

Although we do not have them on this list, there are many Asian athletes that had great years. First, it would be wrong not to mention all of the great golfers this year. China’s Guan Tianlang played at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., at the age of 14. He was the youngest ever to compete at the event and even played a practice round with Tiger Woods.

Inbee Park was a dominant figure in women’s golf this year. In fact, five of the top 10 golfers in the world in women’s golf are Asian. Park is currently ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world. The 25-year-old won three straight major golf championships this year. Park leads the charge of great Asian golfers in the sport. There will be much more to come in 2014.

Li Na also had a great year in women’s tennis. Na was the runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open and made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, where she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams.

10.  Kelli Suguro – A senior walk-on with the University of Washington softball team, Suguro was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention last year. Suguro helped the team make another run at the NCAA Women’s College World Series. She scored some notoriety with a great play last season that made ESPN’s Top Play of the Night — a nightly feature on the network’s SportsCenter.

9.  Tim Lincecum – The former University of Washington standout pitcher has been an annual mainstay on this list. He continues to be a valuable part of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff. The highlight for this season was pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 13th. For his work, he signed a two-year, $35 million contract with the Giants, which will keep him in San Francisco through 2015.

8. Kim Ng – Would the Mariners be better had the organization hired Ng? We couldn’t have done any worse. Ng, one of the finalists for the Mariners’ general manager position in 2008, is now a Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. Prior to that, she had positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. Despite not getting the chance to be the first Asian American woman to be a top executive for a Major League Baseball team, Ng is still a trailblazer and role model in baseball.

7.  Peyton Siva – The former Franklin High School basketball star had a big year. He helped the Louisville Cardinals win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. He was an Academic All-American and shortly after his graduation, he was drafted into the NBA by the Detroit Pistons. He also married his longtime girlfriend at Louisville’s home arena.

6.  Jeanette Lee (aka The Black Widow) – The longtime professional pool player was elected to the Hall of Fame of her sport. Given the nickname because she would “eat her opponents alive,” she dominated the billiard circuit, despite her physical ailments.

5.  Hines Ward – While some athletes fall out of shape and get a belly after retiring, Ward has remained active. He trained for the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Hines completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run in 13 hours, 8 minutes, and 15 seconds. Ward, who is half Korean, participated with help from his sponsor, Chocolate Milk.

4.  Jeremy Lin – Linsanity still lives. In fact, Lin has had a couple of outstanding games this season, which reminded everyone of two seasons ago. However, injuries have set Lin back this year. For those who missed the hype of “Linsanity,” a documentary, “Linsanity: The Movie,” detailing his journey from benchwarmer to toast-of-the-town, was in theatres this year. The film was shown at Sundance and the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in 2013. It should be available via DVD in 2014.

3.  Marques Tuiasosopo – The former University of Washington (UW) quarterback got his chance to coach the football team at the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27. The opportunity arose as former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian bolted for Southern California to take the vacated job at USC. According to news reports, new UW coach Chris Peterson offered Tuiasosopo the position of tight ends coach, but “Tui” has instead accepted an offer as tight ends coach for USC.

2.  Doug Baldwin – The Seattle Seahawks have had one of its best seasons in recent memory and dreams of a Super Bowl in 2014 are in the team’s grasp. Baldwin is one of the team’s unsung heroes. He is a clutch wide receiver and a favorite target of Russell Wilson on third downs. Currently, he leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for most touchdowns by a wide receiver. At a recent home game, Baldwin ran out of the Seahawks tunnel with the Filipino flag to bring awareness and support for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Baldwin is part Filipino and has relatives in the Philippines.

1. Erik Spoelestra – You win an NBA Championship, and you make this list. You win back-to-back and you get the top spot. “Coach Spo,” as he’s known, led the Miami Heat to another NBA Championship. The Heat are the favorites this year to make it a “3peat.” Spoelestra, who is half Filipino, has made public service announcements on behalf of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Spoelestra went to high school in Portland and played college basketball at the University of Portland. In 1989, he was named Freshman of the Year in the West Coast Conference.

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Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013

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Priyanka Chopra’s single “In My City” is NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ theme song

priyanka-chopra-nfl-thursday-night-football-opening-act

Priyanka Chopra’s hit track In My City has been the theme song for NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football this season.

“Having grown up in both New York and Boston, two major [rival] football cities and coincidentally the two teams playing the night of my big debut, it’s nothing short of surreal to be with the NFL as the opening act for Thursday Night Football. ‘In My City’ was my first single, it has a very special place in my heart, and I am beyond excited to bring the amazing energy of the track to the NFL’s passionate fans,” Priyanka Chopra said.

The Indian beauty will take over duties from Cee Lo Green, and join the lineup alongside country superstar Carrie Underwood, who is the opening act for Sunday and Monday night’s games.

Priyanka’s single ‘In My City’ is the perfect song to set the stage for Thursday Night Football and to welcome viewers to each city,” said Mark Quenzel of the NFL Network.

This is yet another positive step for the Interscope artist who is still reeling from the success of her latest track “Exotic” featuring Pitbull.

Chopra, who was born in India but raised in Queens, was recently launched as the new face of American clothing brand Guess.

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Priyanka Chopra’s single “In My City” is NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ theme song

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