Priyanka Chopra Jonas isn't one to sit still. By the time she was 13, she'd uprooted her life and moved from India to America to live with her aunt. Her adolescence in the United States was similarly restless: in the span of three years she lived in Massachusetts, Iowa, and New York, all before returning home to India to finish high school. So when it came time to reflect on her teen years in her new memoir, Unfinished, Chopra Jonas struggled to piece together the ever-shifting jigsaw puzzle that was her youth. "When I started the memoir, I couldn't remember sh*t," Chopra Jonas, 38, tells Bustle. "My memories were gone. I was like, 'How am I going to fill up a book?'"
An avid journaler, Chopra Jonas decided to physically chart her life in a notebook in order to exorcise those long forgotten memories. "My solution was to write down the milestones I remembered and put them in a timeline," she explains, noting that the pages started to resemble a family tree. "I was like, 'What do I first remember and where am I right now?' I started drawing lines [between] them and then I moved into writing about it in my notes." Slowly but surely, all of the high school ex-boyfriends and humiliations came back to her.
The resulting book is a lighthearted look at the actor's life. (One chapter, for example, opens with lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs Robinson," a playful nod to her marriage to Nick Jonas, who is 10 years her junior.) To Chopra Jonas, comedy is at the core of her story. "This book was like my letters to my younger self in a way, so it lends itself to humor," she says. "[I feel like I'm] looking back at my teenage self and saying, 'Girl, what are you doing? Don't make an ass out of yourself.'"
Below, Chopra Jonas muses about her love of Doritos, unfinished journals, and TikTok.
On unwinding with a mystery novel:
[I'm reading] some really sh*tty ones. Murder On Mustique is a murder mystery and I love Mustique, I've been there multiple times. Bookstores are closed, but [the store near] where I live has one window and whatever books you can see [in it], you're like, "Oh, can I get that one?" This was lying in the window, and I was like, "Ooh, that sounds like a good read." I'm in the middle of a lot right now, so I need to read something I can breeze over. I'm doing a book tour, a press tour, and prepping for a show that I'm starting, so it's a lot. But this was good to read.
On her love of Doritos:
I love chips. Chips and dip. My [chip of] choice would be Doritos and Cheetos. But what I end up eating is probably some vegetable or kale chips. Then I'll have some olives, and maybe some nuts, or snacky things. [I'll have them with] water, or maybe a glass of rosé. Or sometimes an iced coffee. But I definitely need a beverage when I'm writing.
On being a compulsive journaler:
I go through at least six or seven journals, half-finished, throughout the year. I love starting a journal [and there] are times when I want the whole fancy [journal] with handmade paper that's leather bound. Then I want something that fits in my bag that's really small and I can write in it. It really depends on what I'm doing. But [putting] a pen to paper is a very crucial part [my work]. Even with scripts I have to print out my script and be able to write on it.
On scrolling through TikTok:
I love procrastinating, especially before sleeping, with TikTok. When I [get] my schedule for the next day, I calculate how I will get eight hours of sleep. So I know, "Okay, I have to be in bed by 11 if I want to be rested for the next day." But as soon as it's approaching that time, I start getting FOMO. What could I have done? Why should I have to sleep? And suddenly it's 3:00 AM.
I definitely watch a lot of baby animals on TikTok and dog mom stuff. I see a lot of dancing, too. I'm not a TikToker, but I'm a secret admirer.
This interview has been edited and condensed.