How did the bullying you experienced in high school there affect you?
“I took it very personally. Deep inside, it starts gnawing at you. You don’t even notice the way you’re acting and how you’re reacting. I went into a shell. I was like, ‘Don’t look at me. I just want to be invisible.’ My confidence was stripped. I’ve always considered myself a confident person, but I was very unsure of where I stood, of who I was.”
After a year of it, you finally told your parents and moved back home. How did you rebuild your self-esteem?
“A lot of kids go through this and don’t have the ability to get away from their tormentors. When I went back to India, I was surrounded by so much love and admiration for just who I was. My dad said, ‘Leave your baggage behind.’ And I tried to. In India I was in school, and I was onstage. I made new friends who were amazing and loving. I was doing teenage things, going to parties, having crushes, dating, the normal stuff. It just built me up.” -People