Priyanka Chopra Jonas says Apu from ‘The Simpsons’ was “the bane of my life”
Priyanka Chopra has opened up about Apu from The Simpsons being “the bane of my life”, owing to the fuelling of racial stereotypes.
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The Indian actress said in a new interview that Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu’s “exaggerated” Indian accent would lead people to question why hers wasn’t as pronounced.
Chopra Jonas, who is married to Jonas Brothers‘ Nick Jonas, made a cameo in the long-running cartoon in an episode that showed the pair getting married.
She said that the feature was ironic, given how the cartoon impacted her teenaged years growing up in the US.
“To be on The Simpsons in my wedding dress was really fun and ironic considering Apu was the bane of my life when I was growing up,” she told British Vogue as she looked back at some of her key Instagram photos.
“Everybody kept asking why don’t I speak like Apu [Nahasapeemapetilon], why my accent wasn’t like Apu?”
She added, “Apu had a really exaggerated Indian accent as we all know now,” before noting that the cameo was “bittersweet and funny because obviously The Simpsons are an iconic part of most of our childhoods”.
Chopra Jonas also noted the “irony of me in an Indian dress marrying a white guy”.
The character of Apu was previously voiced by American actor Hank Azaria.
In 2021, he apologised on Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast for his longtime portrayal of Apu while also acknowledging the show’s participation in “structural racism”.
Four years previously, widespread calls for Azaria to stop voicing Apu began, following Hari Kondabolu’s criticism of the portrayal of the character in his documentary The Problem With Apu.
Elsewhere in Armchair Expert, Azaria called for greater and more diverse racial and ethnic representation in entertainment.
“If it’s an Indian character or a Latinx character or a Black character, please let’s have that person voice the character,” he said.
“It’s more authentic, they’ll bring their experience to it, and let’s not take jobs away from people who don’t have enough.”
In January 2020, Azaria confirmed that he would no longer voice the character, saying: “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s someway to transition it or something.”