The actress recently shared her RAD Impact Award with 18-year-old climate activist Devishi Jha. She tells InStyle the unconventional way they met, along with her sustainable shopping habits and why she isn't ready to dress up again.

By Samantha Sutton
Apr 28, 2021 @ 3:01 pm
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Priyanka
Credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Since its start in 2018, the organization known as RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy) has been working to combine entertainment, fashion, and philanthropy. They've partnered with brands and celebrities to auction off award show outfits, among other novel ways to boost awareness and raise money for meaningful causes. Now, for 2021, RAD has created its very own Impact Awards, which not only honors celebrities who are using their platforms for good, but also allows them to donate to other change-makers they believe in.

Priyanka Chopra is one of this year's recipients, and the actress is sharing her award with Devishi Jha, a climate justice activist who works with ZeroHour, an international youth-led climate organization, and serves on UNICEF's national council in support of girls' education. According to a press release, their RAD Impact Award "will provide technology for girls in rural areas of India, through the work of Avanti Fellows, so they can benefit from equitable access to high-quality colleges and professional growth that will create a better life and future for them."

InStyle spoke to Chopra over the phone, asking her about why she wanted to share the award with Jha, specifically, as well as how she fights for climate justice in her own life. The actress also opened up about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed her, and shared the reason why she isn't ready to dress up just yet as restrictions in America begin to lift.

Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with RAD and this year's awards?

First of all, I think RAD is an incredible non-profit that creates activism within people. The women behind it are inspirations to me, and they have created this award, which I am a recipient of, called the RAD Impact Award, which inspires purpose. You share this award with someone you admire, who inspires purpose in you, and have a considerable donation that you can make to something that's important to both of you, to be able to create tangible change.

I decided to share my award with Devishi Jha, an incredible climate activist. She's just an amazingly smart girl who knows all about climate change and is actually making tangible change in the lives of people and women around the world. I just admired her and I have a very tenacious story about how she reached out to me.

Can you share the story?

[Devishi] found my email and directly emailed me not once, but a couple of times. Just to kind of get my attention, saying like, 'I admire you, and I want to work with you and be able to amplify what I'm doing.' I love ambitious women and I just thought, she's 18 years old, and it's amazing that she reached out to me and was so persistent. That takes an amazing kind of bold, which I really admired about her, and is why she's such a powerful activist. I felt that she definitely deserved to share this award because she really inspired my purpose.

Wow, I would imagine that might freak many people out, having someone track down their email.

It doesn't really freak me out, but the first time I got it, since I'm not very good with emails, I missed it. Then, I was trying to clean up my emails — I literally had like 2 million unread emails — and I started reading it. I was very amazed by her tenacity. I sent those emails to my team, they reached out to her,. and we had a chat through RAD. This opportunity had recently come to me where they said they would like me to be a recipient. I was like, this seems like a really great marriage.

I've worked with some amazing activists in my life, but I wanted to help her amplify her voice. That's one of my favorite things to do — incubate talent in different ways and help use my platform to help people find their voice. And I just feel like I can do that with Devi and the kind of work that she's doing already, in such a short life, [which is] more than people do their lifetimes.

Were you interested in climate justice prior to this?

I have always been interested in climate justice. I just launched a sustainable hair care brand called Anomaly, where all the packaging is made from 100% recycled trash. I really believe the climate crisis is exactly that — a crisis. It's a crisis that this generation needs to understand and take very seriously, because it really is upon us to stop this. I don't know the kind of earth that our children or grandchildren will inherit. The impact of climate change is really different within different communities, and if you think about how nature has been responding in the last few decades — natural calamities — there's so much evidence and science to support how urgent this matter. Devishi is just so proactive as a young 18-year-old, being a soldier of change. It's extremely admirable.

Do you try to keep activism and things such as climate change in mind when shopping for fashion?

Yes, I do. In fact, I really admire Stella McCartney, for example, for being able to create sustainable fashion in such a great way, and for being an activist, I think that's absolutely achievable. I've also really believe in recycling as much as we can. There are so many things that people forget to do, and the little changes we can make in our individual lives that we just take for granted, you know? I think even that will create change. So, it's just something that I'm aware of, not just advocate with, but use as an example in my own life. I think that's extremely crucial to do, and I think it's the sole responsibility every individual has towards the one planet we have."

Over the past year, we've spent so much time at home, and many of us thought about consumerism, ordering clothes, like "Do I really need this?" Did your shopping habits change at all?

I'm not a shopper. I can't do it. It's tedious to me — I don't shop for pleasure, let's just say. I'm more of, like, 'buy things I need in my life to try to make myself more comfortable and do what I need to do.' Otherwise, I'm not somebody who's a compulsive shopper. You won't see me online, ordering clothes and stuff. If I don't have to, I prefer not to do it. But what this year really has taught me a couple of things. One, is to be eternally grateful for having the ability to be safe, keep my family safe, and be able to be with my family. Be able to work and sustain a life. This year has really shown us the difference between the haves and the have-nots. It became really, really apparent.

What I believe is privileged is being able to have a roof on your head and being able to provide sustenance for your family. I think if people have that, then you're privileged, and it is the responsibility of a privileged society to find and create ways to pull up those that don't have that privilege. This year has made it so apparent. That was something that, in my home growing up, I was already aware of because my parents were like that. Sharing was not applauded, it was required, like it was your duty. Both my parents come from the military, so I don't know, maybe that had something to do with it. But I just think that when I became a public person, I kind of realized that my platform can amplify a conversation. I try and use that as much as I can. I've tried within this year specifically, but in general, I try to do that.

On the lighter side of things, some COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in America. Are you excited to dress up again and have some normalcy when it comes to fashion?

Recently, just going to the BAFTA's and getting dressed for the red carpet, it was so peculiar to wear heels all evening. It was very strange. I had to put my feet in hot water and bath salts when I came back because I wasn't used to it. But, I think, just seeing the effect COVID continues to have around the world, it's hard for me to start getting excited right now. I that some countries are lucky and we're getting to that place and that's amazing. I would just hope that trend continues around the world sooner than later.

Through April 30, Luxury Stores is donating proceeds of sales from the RAD Impact Edit on Amazon to RAD Impact Award charities, so you can do your part simply by shopping.