Priyanka Chopra takes part in a discussion at the International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra needs no introduction. The bodacious actress has worn many hats, from a provocative, manipulative woman in ‘Aitraaz’ to an autistic girl in ‘Barfi’ to a feisty boxer in ‘Mary Kom,’ among other roles. She has also gone global with a key role on the small screen with American TV serial ‘Quantico,’ where she plays FBI agent Alex Parrish. Chopra has also ventured into music and film production.
“I am not an ordinary star. Everything I do is sort of unique,” she remarked in an interview not long ago.
The rara avis has taken the road less travelled, carving out her own path.
No wonder her fans in India, and the UAE, have a lot of goodwill for this former Goodwill Ambassador of Unicef.
Sharjah’s heart-warming hospitality has bowled the actress over, who was a guest speaker at the two-day International Government Communication Forum. She said, ““By talking about the vital role of communication within governments and between countries, and taking it to the next level by organising the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), Sharjah is setting an amazing example for the rest of the world, reinforcing its credentials as a vibrant cultural hub.”
On the opening day of the ninth edition of IGCF on Wednesday at Expo Centre Sharjah, she remarked, “Bringing so many leaders from around the world to this forum to steer a conversation on what governments can do to promote cross-cultural understanding is an incredible initiative for which Sharjah ought to be lauded,” said Chopra.
Chopra led the discussion on the role of visual media in fostering positive, cultural understanding in a session titled ‘Why Does the Screen Have so Much Impact on Public Opinion?’
“Society and entertainment are a mirror image of each other and share a symbiotic relationship,” she said, adding, “Movies today are breaking stereotypes and the entertainment industry is tremendously influential, having the ability to impact people beyond its own borders.”
As technology and digital media platforms are making the world smaller and more interconnected, this is the best time to promote ourselves culturally, said the actor, who has starred in more than 60 films.
“I truly believe that we have to stand our ground and dig our heels in to demand the kind of work we want to see represented. We have to go out there and put in the effort to culturally mould the roots that we come from because the world is a melting pot of cultures.”
Discussing how social media – originally intended to bring the world closer has also become a tool for negative propaganda, the superstar said, “This is an important moment in time for governments and the entertainment industry to come together to teach people about diverse cultures around the world – not the differences, but the commonalities.
“Being different does not have to be scary; being different should pique your curiosity,” she said.
The session was moderated by Raya Abi Rached, celebrity journalist and TV presenter who is best known as the host of the Arab region's biggest celebrity movie show, MBC2's flagship Scoop With Raya, and for co-presenting the blockbuster talent show, Arabs Got Talent, on MBC4.
Chopra, who has 50.2 million followers on Instagram, said celebrities around the world can use their influence to help foster greater understanding of challenging issues confronting humanity today. As a Global Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, she described how her visit to refugee camps in Jordan and the individual stories of children and their families that she shared with her followers led to increased media coverage, sparking conversations and action around the topic.
“This is the positive power of social media. As celebrities, we are the conduit to take such messages forward and magnify the voice of the people who don’t have it. This is where our social responsibility kicks in, and we should not ignore it,” she said.
IGCF is organised by the International Government Communication Centre (IGCC), a subsidiary of the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB), under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. IGCF 2020 concludes onThursday. It focuses on four pillars: ‘Embedding a culture of engagement in government’, ‘Technology as a community enabler’, ‘Communication through culture’, and 'Holistic wellbeing.'
The robust agenda of the ninth edition of the International Government Communication Forum 2020 will host nine workshops targeting students, journalists, photojournalists and government communication employees.
Themed ‘Beyond Communications’, the high-profile 2-day global summit sheds light on key challenges and issues in the field of government communication on motivating individuals to play a key role in the development drive.
Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi has said that delivering ‘communication for the public’ has been at the heart of Sharjah’s 40-year cultural project.
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