By Jennifer Merritt
Updated Apr 01, 2016 @ 3:15 pm
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Credit: Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

This is not an April Fools' Day joke: Priyanka Chopra didn't always consider herself beautiful.

In this month's #innerstyle column, the star of Quantico and former Miss World tells I Am That Girl's Emily Greener that even today, looking back at pictures from her beauty pageant days, she sees a "gawky" 17-year-old. "I wasn't the prettiest girl in the room, but I learned to carry myself with confidence—that's how you make the best impression on people," she says.

Still, that path to confidence wasn't easy. She's talked candidly about the bullying she experienced as a young girl, and how her father helped her overcome it. And now, she's using her fame to share those lessons her parents taught her to young women everywhere: "In New York, a 13-year-old Indian girl came up to me crying, saying to everyone nearby, 'This is where I come from,'" she recalls. "It's easy to forget that actors have the ability to instill a sense of self in viewers. That's the greatest compliment."

With local chapters around the country (and a vibrant online community), InStyle partner I Am That Girl empowers girls to improve the way they treat themselves—and one another. Sponsor a girl in your community by signing up at iamthatgirl.com.