After receiving criticism for being cast as a lead judge on a new HBO ballroom voguing competition, Jameela Jamil has revealed that she’s queer.
Opening with "Twitter is brutal,” the British actress of Indian and Pakistani origin said she had previously struggled to discuss her sexuality, because "it's not easy within the south Asian community to be accepted.” She mentioned that nobody in her family was "openly out" and that "it's also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you're already a brown female in your thirties.”
Out reported that Jamil initially tweeted (and subsequently deleted) of her new gig “I’m *so* excited to be a tiny part of bringing ballroom further into the mainstream where it belongs.”
Prior to her coming out, “The Good Place” actress was criticized for not being representative of the black LGBTQ community in New York. While she made clear in her statement that “being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” she did have “privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show.”
However, Jamil is no stranger to controversy. The Cut reported that in December the actress was criticized after expressing her opinion that airbrushing is “disgusting” and a “crime against women,” and that it should be banned. But Jamil stayed form.
In 2018, she set up a body positive initiative, I Weigh, to encourage her followers to measure themselves by what makes them unique and valuable rather than by stones and kilos. She called an end to fat shamming, demanding more representation of bodies that don’t look like hers. She set a new precedent by refusing touch-ups on her magazine shoots, and called for face-editing apps to be banned.
Following a breast cancer scare, Jamil, 33, left London and moved to Los Angeles five years ago. But she acting was not in her plans. She intended to work as a screenwriter. Not only did she get visibility after bagging a role of Tahani in“The Good Place,” she came to be known as an activist who stood for young women, marginalized women, big women, and women of color.
Her fight is personal, because Jamil was bullied throughout her childhood for her race and her size. She told HuffPost that she was “very chubby on and off at school,” “much taller than everyone else,” had bad skin, and braces. “I was physically and verbally [abused] very badly at school," she told HuffPost. "Like beaten senseless by kids for being from a Pakistani family and for being poor. That was before the age of 10, and that went on until I was about 16.”
But the bullying Jamil suffered that school didn't stop when she left school. Throughout her career, she has been the target of harassment — not just in real life but also from people on the internet. "I've experienced racism out in the streets wherever I am," she told HuffPost.
Along with the bullying, Jamil has suffered from myriad health problems since childhood. Born partially deaf, she was in and out of the hospital for surgery as a child. Today, she has 70 percent audibility in her left ear and 50 percent in her right. She also has severe allergies to shellfish and peanuts, as well as celiac disease, so she has to follow a very careful diet.
For years, Jamil suffered from an eating disorder that continued until a car hit her when she was 17, causing injury to her spine. "There's something about not being able to move that gives you a new respect for your body, and I honestly think that accident saved me," she told The Guardian.
According to a report in The Guardian, Jamil went viral after claiming Beyoncé was “deluded” into thinking she was a feminist if she was on stage “emulating a stripper”, and called out the Kardashians as “double agents of the patriarchy” for selling detox teas to impressionable young women.