In an interview with the Associated Press, the actress said, "I was treated differently because I'm brown."
"I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade," Chopra Jonas, 36, said. "I was called 'Brownie,' 'Curry,' 'go back on the elephant you came on,' and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem."
She said that experiencing this abuse motivated her to help others.
"I'm not going to allow anyone to feel like that anymore," she said. "But it took that innate sense of self, which was, I think, created in me through my parents. It took my upbringing and my environment to create that."
She believes that the bullying she experienced is an effect of learned behavior.
"The way we treat people differently comes from cultural, subliminal messaging that has happened over eons," she told AP. "The more we can talk about it and open other people's eyes and say, 'It doesn't have to be that way,' and give them more examples, I guess society will change."
Chopra Jonas previously opened up about using skin lightening cream to Vogue India in 2017 while discussing beauty expectations and ideals she encountered growing up.
"A lot of girls with a darker skin hear things like, 'Oh, poor thing, she’s dark,'" she explained to the outlet. "In India, they advertise skin-lightening creams: 'Your skin’s gonna get lighter in a week.' I used it [when I was very young]."
"When I was an actor, around my early 20s, I did a commercial for a skin-lightening cream," she continued. "I was playing that girl with insecurities. And when I saw it, I was like, 'Oh s---. What did I do?' I started talking about being proud of the way I looked. I actually like my skin tone."
The actress now champions embracing one's identity and appearance. She recently partnered with Obagi Medical for a global awareness initiative called "SKINCLUSION," which is "dedicated to elevating the global dialogue about diversity and how we can all make conscious choices to see the beauty in all of our differences."
"I do want to create a world for my future kids where they don't have to think about diversity, where they're not talking about it because it's normal," she told AP.