Priyanka Chopra Jonas shares why she spoke out about the gender pay gap

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CITADEL, from left: Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, (Season 1, premiered April 28, 2023).  photo: ©Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas in ‘Citadel’ (Photo: Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The new Prime Video spy series Citadel offered numerous firsts for co-stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden.

It stood Madden (Game of Thrones, Eternals) a chance to play a dual role – an elite special agent for the eponymous, near-mythical global spy agency, and the run-of-the-mill family man he becomes after losing his memory in a train accident. “I really liked being able to do two extremes of the same man in many ways, and how [they’re] quite the opposite,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment in a new interview.

Chopra Jonas — who plays his ex-partner long presumed dead after the same wreck, the result of an attempted murder on both of them — loved that the show was “character-focused” while also allowing her greater “scale, scope and stunts” compared to the projects she has worked on before.

And as the experienced Bollywood and Quantico actress unveiled at the SXSW Film Festival in March, it also marked the first time in her career that she was paid equal to her male co-star.

The Indian-born Miss World 2000 winner reflected on her decision to open up about the gender pay gap in Hollywood during our interview, crediting her agents at UTA and Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke for finding justice.

“I do not think so [just] in this industry,” she says. “We happen to be entertainers, so the media is interested in writing [about] what we should talk about. But if you are talking about business or any industry, women have to work much harder to prove themselves [worth], especially in boardrooms or in positions of power. They have to work much harder to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man. I haven’t even thought about it, to be honest. I was really excited to be a part of this show, and I’m not one to think much about that. But I have to give my agents props. They suggested it… ‘You play co-leads, you should have parity.’ And I was like, ‘You can [have that conversation], but that’s not how it works. You know, jaded old me, trying this conversation for 20 years.

“But it was so easy. They came back and said, ‘Yeah, it’s done.’ And I wondered, “Did this happen so easily because the head of the studio was a woman?” Because when women are in positions where they make decisions, they think about creating opportunities for other women and that’s why it’s so important to create opportunities and push women into positions of power because it changes the game for another changes. “

ROMA, ITALY - APRIL 21,2023: Indian actors Priyanka Chopra Jonas and British actor Richard Madden attend blu tapestry of

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden at the Citadel premiere in Rome. (Photo: Marco Ravagli/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Series creator David Weil (Hunters, the invasion) says he wasn’t surprised to learn that Salke made the conversation painless for Chopra Jonas and her team.

“That’s how she does business. She’s so inclusive, she’s so forward-thinking, and that’s what makes working for her so much fun,” he says. “Of course I’m shocked that Priyanka hadn’t had equal pay with her co-leads before… Hopefully, Hollywood and the wider creative community worldwide will continue to make great strides in justice and equality.”

When it came to casting, Weil was particularly excited to pair Chopra Jonas and Madden, whose spies (and would-be love interests) reunite to counter a global conspiracy that has nearly wiped out their entire agency.

CITADEL, from left: Richard Madden, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, (Season 1, premiered April 28, 2023).  photo: ©Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star Citadel. (Photo: Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection)

“We’ve been so lucky,” he says. “Richard was someone who [producers Joe and Anthony Russo] had meetings with before and before, and they always wanted to do something with him. So when Citadel came by, it fit perfectly. And Priyanka is someone that she and I and all of us have been fans of for so long. I mean, she’s so brilliant. She’s such a global star too, and this is such a global story. And so we wanted to defy convention from you know, if you look at Bond or Bourne or Mission Impossiblethey are often white western male protagonists.”

However, Chopra Jonas and Madden admit that they wouldn’t be brilliant spies in real life.

“I don’t have the guts,” says Chopra Jonas. “I just don’t have the balls to do it, honestly. I just find it really scary. I don’t even take water in my water bottle to the airport because I don’t want security to stop me.”

“I’m bad at sports,” says Madden. ‘I’m a bad liar. I have terrible coordination. I always trip over things. I just don’t think I would be good at being a spy.”

Citadel will premiere on Prime Video on April 28.

Watch the trailer:

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