NEW DELHI: Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra enthralled American audiences as she related the story of her rise in Bollywood and the importance of hard work and persistence which always brought positive results.
Chopra was one of the keynote speakers at the 4th annual conference South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment (SAMMA) held recently at the Time Warner building in New York.
Chopra also talked about her transition into singing. She shared her mantra of never giving up. Chopra was recently signed by Interscope and DesiHits! and is now the opening musical act for the NFL Network Thursday night football.
The event brought together top South Asian leaders and innovators in digital media, television and film, marketing and advertising and music and entertainment for two days of insights, ideation and industry building, a press release issued by SAMMA said. Other keynote speakers included Dr. Mehmood Khan, EVP and Chief Innovations and Science Officer at PepsiCo, and Keli Lee, EVP and Head of Casting at ABC.
The SAMMA Summit, co-presented by Time Warner, was followed by an evening gala where the organisation presented its 2013 SAMMA Trailblazer Awards to four individuals for significant contributions to their industry and helping pave the way for south Asians in their respective fields. The awards went to comedian Russell Peters, actress Mindy Kaling, jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer and Anjula Acharia Bath, CEO and founder of DesiHits.
“It is strange to be called a trailblazer because I’ve never really considered myself one,” said Kaling, lead actor, producer and writer of The Mindy Project on Fox. “In general, I try to tell stories that are relatable to everyone. I’ve always aspired to be the funniest person out there, not just the funniest south Asian,” she said in a video acceptance from the set of her show. “I am privileged to have had these opportunities in show business,” she said.
While accepting his award, Peter who celebrated his 43rd birthday at the gala, said “I’ve never been called a trailblazer.” Entertaining the audience with his one-liners and tongue-in-cheek remarks, Peter said, “When I was younger, I always wanted a Chevy Trailblazer, but this trailblazer I never imagined. I am honoured and proud especially to be recognised by my own community. The more doors we can open for each other the better for everyone. I see more of us in the industry every day, and I want to continue seeing more of us.”
Peters was presented his award by actor, fellow comedian and previous Trailblazer recipient Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Before presenting the award, Ansari roasted and toasted Peters saying, “Let me introduce someone who is like worth 60 billion dollars,” playing off of Peters being the first south Asian to have been ranked as one of the highest paid comedians in the US, after working in the industry for more than 20 years.
Trailblazer recipient Iyer, one of the most awarded jazz artists in the world and winner of the prestigious 2013 MacArthur Genius Award said he was proud to receive the award. Calling music a universal language, he said he hoped that in some way he has helped push the dialogue forward and has inspired others through the beauty of music and jazz, both south Asians and people at-large.
Presented the award by David Taghioff and business colleague at CAA, Acharia Bath shared: “We have so much to learn from one another. I encourage everyone to live their dreams. Bringing different cultures and viewpoints together in the arts and industry, whether in music or any field, takes passion and perseverance.” Bath, named Billboard’s top 40 women in music for her work in blending Indian talent with mainstream music in the US, continued, “Helping one another, we can achieve anything.”