Since her father was a doctor in the Indian army, they spent a lot of time moving around, so she lived in many places growing up, such as Jamshedpur, Delhi, Pune, Lucknow, Massachusetts, and Iowa, among other locations.
While in Boston, she participated in many charitable activities, theatre productions, and song and dance activities. She returned to India to finish high school and during this time, she won a local beauty pageant, "May Queen." She registered for classes at Jai Hind College, but left shortly after once she decided to head into the world of glamor, taking part in the Femina Miss India contest. This contest actually came to her as a surprise, since her mother sent pictures of her to the contest without her knowing. Upon being called to participate in the contest, she was encouraged by her father and decided to go for it. She came in second place in the contest and went on to the Miss World Pageant. Wowing the judges, she took home the title of Miss World 2000. "When I became Miss World, I couldn't believe I had won it. I used to sleep with my crown on because I thought someone would steal it. In a minute the world changed for me." She spent a year travelling the world with the Miss World organization and eventually made the decision to become an actress.
Chopra kicked off her acting career in 2002 film, Thamizhan with the role of Priya, the love interest of the protagonist. The film received decent reviews, but Chopra's character was seen as falling a little short. She followed up with her Bollywood debut in the film, The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003). The film did well in the box office, but was not received as well by critics. Chopra however, was received better than she was in Thamizhan, earning herself good reviews.
Also in 2003, she starred in Andaaz as another love interest. This film also did well in the box office in addition to earning her a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award as well as a nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. 2004 started off a little rough for her, with some films that did poorly in the box office, but redeemed herself with her role in the film, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, a romantic comedy that ended up being the third-highest grossing film of the year. But what really helped her break through was her role in the film, Aitraaz, a thriller in which she plays a villainous role. She received much praise from critics for this role as well as earning a Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. 2005 was an average year for her with six films being released, four of which didn't do so well, and the other two being modestly successful. Despite the modest to poor performance of these films, Chopra was still noticed for her roles by critics and viewers for her passionate performances and her gorgeous looks.
2006 was a better year for her, starring films such as Krrish and Don, which became blockbusters in India as well as receiving praise around the world. 2007 and 2008 were not so kind to Chopra with many unsuccessful films that not only flopped in the box office, but also garnered negative reviews of her performances. However, she managed to turn out two successful films in 2008: Fashion and Dostana, which both were received well in the box office as well as with critics for her performance and looks. In 2009 Chopra became the first actress in cinema history to play 12 distinct roles in the same film, What's Your Raashee? The film was a financial and critical flop, but Chopra's performance didn't go unnoticed, as critics praised her ability to play so many different characters. During the following years, she went on to star in other films, some that did well, and others that didn't. These films included Pyaar Impossible! (2010), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), and Don 2 (2011), among others.
In 2012, Chopra became the first Bollywood star to sign with the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a well known entertainment and sports agency based in Los Angeles, which will help her with her career in Hollywood. In September 2012 Chopra appeared in Barfi ! as an autistic girl who falls in love with a deaf and mute boy. The film was a hit with critics, and Chopra received praise from critics across the board for what was considered to be her best performance yet. The film has been chosen as India's official entry for the 85th Academy Awards in February 2013.
Chopra is very proud of her accomplishments to date, but also very humble, stating, "I don't come from a film background. I haven't learned anything about films or film-making. But I have a thirst to know everything about my profession. I want to learn about cinematography, about editing, about music recordings, about post-production. So when people in the know talk, I willingly listen. Also, I'm not scared of working 20 hours a day."
She has also worked on her singing through the years, and in 2011 she signed with Universal Music Group and DesiHits. She has been working on her debut album, going back and forth between India and Los Angeles. It's set to be released in December 2012.
She is currently single, but hopes to be married some day; "I thoroughly believe in the institution of marriage, but there's a long way to go before I get married. Right now I want to concentrate on my career."