The Quantico star was featured on the cover of the Indian edition of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, or Conde Nast Traveller in the British spelling used in India.
The cover showed Chopra wearing a white T-shirt, which had the words “refugee,” “immigrant” and “outsider” crossed out, leaving only the word “traveller.” The 34-year-old actress soon found herself at the center of a social media storm.
“Extremely insensitive in midst of biggest #refugeecrises. All other options listed [on theT-shirt] are forced on people, not chosen,” tweeted Savita Pawnday. “Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that being a refugee is a matter of choice… What were you thinking?!” posted Anum R Chagani. And another Twitter user, HannanMust, echoed the sentiment, saying: “I’m quite upset. Really stupid thing to do to just grab attention u don’t need. Wise up.”
In an interview that aired Monday on Indian news network NDTV, Chopra said the magazine’s publisher “specially got this [T-shirt] made and implored me to wear it. They said they were addressing xenophobia, which is a big issue that is happening.”
She added that it was the magazine’s idea, “and I bought into it, I guess.” Continued Chopra: “And I am really, really apologetic about the fact that sentiments were hurt.… The point the magazine wanted to make was actually something good.” Chopra also said that she was “really affected [by the backlash], I felt really horrible.”
Conde Nast posted a statement on its website, explaining the intended message behind the cover.
“It’s about how our labeling of people as immigrants, refugees and outsiders is creating a culture of xenophobia.… It’s about how we are allowing some powerful leaders to build barriers that make it more difficult for bright, motivated and hardworking people to see more of the world, learn from it and make it better for us all.”
The statement concluded that the cover was not about Chopra “being a refugee or immigrant or outsider; it’s about her, like us, recognizing the power of travel, and joining us in asking everyone to do better for each other.”
Chopra can currently be seen in the second season of Quantico. She will make her Hollywood feature debut in next summer’s Baywatch.