The 33-year-old, who was the first contestant of Indian heritage to compete on ‘Big Brother Australia’ back in 2014, said she faced “a lot of race-based hate” from the public, but not her co-stars.
On the other hand, she said it was “awful” when a co-star on India’s ‘Bigg Boss’ 2015 told her to “go back to where you come from” – a “racist” remark she was surprised at and hurt by, as she was born in India herself.
Priya came to Australia on a student visa in 2008. She completed a masters in education at the University of South Australia before teaching at an Adelaide high school. After appearing on ‘Big Brother’ in 2014, she returned to India for ‘Celebrity Bigg Boss’ and has been based in Mumbai since.
“Isn’t that awful? In Australia I was discriminated against for being Indian and in India I was discriminated against for being too Australian,” Priya told HuffPost Australia this week.
“This speaks volumes for society everywhere in the world. We are afraid of anything different than us. Look at what’s happening in America right now. Racism rears its ugly head everywhere.”
After leaving the ‘Bigg Boss’ house five years ago, Priya said she hadn’t expected to face racism after “coming back to my own country”.
“A lot of people think I’ve raised the issue of racism in Big Brother [Australia] but actually I haven’t. No one was blatantly racist to me on the show,” she told entertainment and lifestyle website, Miss Malini at the time. “It was only when I came out, I faced racism on social media.”
“But coming back to my own country, this was the last place I thought someone could be racist to me. And directly ask me to go back to where I come from! When I had gone on the Australian Big Brother, I had expected it to happen, it didn’t. And when I came on Bigg Boss, I didn’t expect it to happen, but it did.”
During her time on ‘Big Brother’, Priya was a strong contender in the house who finished in fourth place. She wasn’t surprised to face racism from the public when she exited the show.
“I expected racial backlash, and it happened,” Priya told HuffPost.
“However what I hadn’t expected was the kind of backlash that happened. The graphic death threats were disturbing even for someone as hard-skinned as myself. ”
She also noted there was still “a lot of love” from other Australian fans, and “that love was refreshing to see and it made me overlook the hate”.
“The fact that a lot of Australian Indian kids came up to me after the show and said that they were pleased to see someone who looked like them, made me realise that I had made a difference,” she said.
Six years on from her ‘Big Brother’ fame, Priya has brushed off the critics in India, and made it her home base since her split with husband Bhushan. She has worked in theatre, done TV commercials and is a spoken word poet.
“Professionally, I have done really well here and found my life in India more creatively fulfilling as compared to my life in Australia,” she said.