Jameela Jamil

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Jameela Jamil
Jamil smiles with a black microphone in front of her
Jamil at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
Jameela Alia Jamil

(1986-02-25) 25 February 1986 (age 34)
London, England
EducationQueen's College, London
Occupation
  • Actress
  • presenter
  • model
  • writer
  • activist
Years active2009–present
Partner(s)James Blake (2015–present)
Websitejameelajamil.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Jameela Alia Jamil[1] (born 25 February 1986)[2] is an English actress, radio presenter, model, writer and activist. She began her career on T4, where she hosted a pop culture series from 2009 until 2012. She then became the radio host of The Official Chart, and was co-host of The Official Chart Update alongside Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1. She was the first solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 chart show.[3]

In 2016, Jamil moved to the United States. Whilst there, she was cast as Tahani Al-Jamil in the NBC fantasy comedy series The Good Place.[4] She has modelled for both British and American Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Teen Vogue, and has written for The Times, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, and Company.[5]

Early life[edit]

Jamil was born on 25 February 1986 in Hampstead, London, to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother.[6] She stated in 2015 that she was born with congenital hearing loss and labyrinthitis, which she has had several operations to correct, and that she had 70% hearing ability in her left ear and 50% in her right ear.[7] She has also stated that at the age of nine she was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the connective tissue in the body.[8] Jamil also states she was also diagnosed with coeliac disease at age 12.[9] She also states she experienced mercury poisoning at age 21, which she attributes to mercury leakage from her amalgam teeth filling removals, which burned holes in her digestive system.[10][11]

She has stated that, as a teenager, she suffered from anorexia nervosa and did not eat a full meal between the ages of 14 and 17. She has stated that she believes her eating disorder developed due to societal pressure, including magazine articles selling weight loss products.[12] She has said that at the age of 17 she was struck by a car while running from a bee, breaking several bones and damaging her spine. She stated she was told that she might never walk again but that she slowly recovered after steroid treatment and physiotherapy, using a Zimmer frame to start walking.[13][14] She credits the car accident for pushing her towards recovery from anorexia, stating that it changed her relationship with her body.[12] She attended Queen's College School in London but has stated she was unable to complete her A-Levels because of her accident.[15] She has stated she then taught English to foreign students at the Callan School of English in London for two years.[14][16] She has also stated she worked as a model,[17][18] photographer,[16] fashion scout and model agent for Premier Model Management Limited.[13][19][20]

Career[edit]

2009–2015: Early media career[edit]

Jamil, pictured at the London Fashion Week, 2009

Jamil appeared on the E4 show Music Zone towards the end of 2008. She began presenting T4 in 2009.[21][22] In January 2009, when Alexa Chung left the morning TV show Freshly Squeezed, Jamil succeeded her as co-host, alongside Nick Grimshaw.[18][21][23][24] In 2010, Jamil presented The Closet, an online fashion advice show on the social networking site Bebo produced by Twenty Twenty Television.[22][23][25]

From 2011 to 2014 she wrote a column for Company, the women's monthly magazine.[22][26] In January 2012, Jamil replaced June Sarpong as the host of the reality show Playing It Straight.[27] In June 2012, Jamil collaborated with Very to debut her first fashion collection.[28] At the end of 2012 Jamil became the radio host of The Official Chart, and was co-host of The Official Chart Update alongside Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1. Jamil made radio history, becoming the first sole female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show.[29]

2016–present: Transition into acting[edit]

It's very exciting. I know it shouldn't be a big deal, but there's also a huge lack of ethnic minorities in showbiz. I'm completely Asian – not mix – and I'm so proud to be such a big part of Radio 1. I actually can't wait to get started now!

 — Jamil, on being the first female host of The Official Chart[30]

Jamil left London in 2016 and moved to Los Angeles,[31] with no plans of acting, instead intending to work as a screenwriter.[32] Her agent told her that Michael Schur, who co-created Parks and Recreation, was looking for a British actress for a new upcoming comedy series. Although Jamil had no prior acting experience at this point and was wary of auditioning, she agreed to do so. She was later recalled for a second interview, and was given the role.[33][34][35]

The show premiered in September 2016, with Jamil being a regular cast member of the NBC fantasy comedy series The Good Place, where she played Tahani Al-Jamil.[36] Jamil's character became known for her tendency to name drop.[37]

Jamil made her first American magazine cover on the February 2018 issue of The Cut.[38] She provided her voice as a guest on the animated television series DuckTales.[39] In 2018, Jamil joined the cast of Disney's Indian-inspired cartoon set in fictional Jalpur. Mira, Royal Detective is expected to air on Disney Junior channels in 2020, with Jamil playing Mira's Auntie Pushpa.[40] In 2018, Jamil hosted a recurring segment on Last Call with Carson Daly during its final season, entitled "Wide Awake with Jameela Jamil".[41]

Since 2019, Jamil has been the host of The Misery Index, a comedy game show on TBS.[42]

In March 2020, she posed fully-clothed in suit and tie for Playboy magazine's "On Speech" issue. She later tweeted, "From my Playboy shoot, I wanted to be shot like a man. No retouching, hi res, loose, comfortable clothes and completely unsexualized. I felt extremely free."[43][44]

In April 2020, she debuted her podcast I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, which focuses on women's accomplishments, body positivity, activism and racial inclusivity.[45] In October of 2020, the podcast was nominated for an E! People's Choice Award.[46]

Activism[edit]

Late in 2015, Jamil launched Why Not People?, an events and membership company dedicated to hosting live entertainment events accessible to people with disabilities.[47] In March 2018, Jamil created an Instagram account called I Weigh,[48] inspired by a picture that she came across online of Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian with their half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, detailing each woman's weight.[49] Jamil describes I Weigh as "a movement... for us to feel valuable and see how amazing we are, and look past the flesh on our bones".[50] The account welcomes submissions of followers' non-edited or airbrushed selfies using the hashtag #iweigh, with text describing the things that they feel grateful for or proud of.[50][49] In part due to this work, Jamil was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women during 2018.[51]

Jamil has been a critic of diet shakes and appetite suppressants. She explained that in her teens she starved herself, took laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a low weight. She has criticised the Kardashians, rapper Cardi B, and other influencers for promoting diet suppressants via social media.[52] Jamil created a petition via change.org, titled "Stop celebrities promoting toxic diet products on social media", with a goal of reaching 150,000 signatures. She called upon social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to ban the practice, noting its dangerous rhetoric on young impressionable teenagers.[53] In September 2019, Instagram rolled out new global policy restrictions to help protect teen users, and credited Jamil and I Weigh in aiding in their decision. [54]

There's little to no information about the side effects or main ingredients, the harm they may cause or any of the science behind how these products are supposed to work. They are instead, flogged in glossy paid adverts by celebrities and influencers with no expertise or authority in nutrition/medicine/biology.

— An excerpt from Jamil's diet petition[53]

Using social media, Jamil often calls out media industry standards and labels other female celebrities as "double agents of the patriarchy" by promoting unhealthy body image, often invoking her own experience of having an eating disorder in her arguments. In 2013, she criticised Rihanna in her column for Company magazine, blaming the singer for maintaining a relationship with her abuser for fame, smoking marijuana, and for posting "provocative images on Instagram to millions of hungry followers".[55] In 2014, she wrote on her disapproval of Beyonce for sexualising her public image like Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azaelea and criticised them for "deluding themselves into thinking it's 'feminism' if you get your fanny out on "your terms."[56][57] In 2019, she called out rapper Cupcakke on Twitter for posting about doing a water fast.[58] Jamil often calls out Kim Kardashian[59] for promoting unhealthy body ideals, such as by wearing a corset,[60] promoting body makeup to cover skin imperfections such as psoriasis[61] and for offering maternity shapewear for her fashion line.[62]

Jamil is against the airbrushing of editorial images and refuses to retouch all her photo shoots.[63]

I think it's a disgusting crime to Photoshop your images and put them out there in the world without announcing that's what you've done. It's a lie, you're lying to your fans, and your followers, and people who look up to you. You're an asshole. I really believe that. You're an asshole.

— An excerpt from the 2018 Nylon magazine cover interview

She is also critical of the fashion and modelling industry standards and remarked that runway models looked "long-starved" and "terrified". [64] She has also called Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld a "ruthless, fat-phobic misogynist" after his death.[65]

Jamil also supports the climate change movement, expressing her admiration for Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and several other climate change activists.[66]

Charity[edit]

Jamil appeared on C4 Orange Rockcorps 2009, volunteering to help create a concert to fund local community projects.[67] She has supported the Cultural Learning Alliance, which promotes access to culture for children and young people,[68] and Vinspired National Awards for people aged 16–25 who have contributed to their communities through volunteering.[69][70] Jamil designed her own version of SpongeBob SquarePants to be auctioned off with all the proceeds going to Childline.[71] Jamil also said that she would wear a chicken costume for the same number of days equal to the number of thousands of pounds she raises for Comic Relief. She was sponsored approximately £16,000 and wore the costume for 16 consecutive days.[72]

Honours[edit]

Jamil was one of fifteen women selected to appear on the cover of the September 2019 issue of British Vogue "Forces for Change", by guest editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.[73]

On 2 August 2019, Jamil was awarded "Advocate of the Year" from the Ehlers-Danlos Society.[8]

Jamil received the "Phenom" award from the 12th annual Shorty Awards on 3 May 2020. [74]

Personal life[edit]

Jamil has been in a relationship with musician James Blake since 2015.[75] She came out as queer after her appointment as a judge of voguing reality series Legendary received backlash, as voguing ball culture is rooted in black and Latino LGBTQ communities in New York.[76][77][78][79]

In interviews, Jamil has mentioned several bee attacks in her life, including being hit by a car at age 17 when running away from a bee.[80] In 2015, Jameela claimed that while she was interviewing musician Mark Ronson in the Hollywood Hills, the 'biggest swarm of killer bees' she had ever seen made them retreat.[81] Ronson contradicted Jamil's version of events, describing 'one or two individual bees' and walking 'slowly inside' in response.[82] Jamil related that while filming the first season of The Good Place in 2016, she was chased by a dark swarm of bees and again got hit by a car.[83] In 2019, Jamil states she ran away from bees while crossing the road to the UN headquarters to give a speech.[84]

In several UK interviews in 2013[85][86] as well as on the 1 October 2018 episode of Good Morning America – complete with video footage of her falling [87] – Jamil stated that she lost a tooth, smashed her nose, broke her elbow and several ribs, and got a concussion when she slipped and fell on her face while running around the set with Olly Murs at a recorded event leading up to the pair acting as presenters at the Orange Rockcorps volunteer's London concert of September 2010.[88][87] Jameela stated she glued her broken tooth together with eyelash adhesive after the accident, which has held on as of 2020.[89][90]

On 3 October 2019 in interview on HardTalk, a BBC News Channel programme, Jamil stated that she had been raped several times in her life and that in the past she looked at blaming women, but has changed to blaming the societal patriarchy that produces that scenario.[91] Jamil has also stated that at age 12 she was attacked by a man on Oxford Street, the main shopping street in London - recounting, "[He] grabbed my vagina [...] in my school uniform at 3.30pm, so hard and for so long, that I bled and had to throw both of us against a wall to get him off", that as a teenager, three men ejaculated onto her leg on escalators on the London Underground on three separate occasions, and that she has been the subject of many lewd acts by men since age 11.[92] She also recounted that she was dragged into a car in Belsize Park as a 15 year-old, and was saved because someone saw her predicament.[93]

In 2015, Jamil mentioned that she left the BBC Radio 1 Official Chart Show because of a breast cancer scare in 2014,[94] and had lumpectomies on both breasts, in which she says she lost a 'large chunk' of breast tissue.[95][10] However, in the 3 October 2019 Hardtalk interview, she concurs with the interviewer that she had a breast cancer scare 'in 2016', which turned out to be a single 'benign lump', and that this precipitated an immediate move to Los Angeles.[96] Separately in a segment recorded in 2016 for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, she instead describes having 'recently' experienced 'a lump in her breast that showed signs of precancerous cells'.[97] Also in October 2019 in the same month as the HardTalk interview but not in the interview itself, she stated she suffered from actual cancer twice, having cervical cancer in 2016 and 2019.[98]. Jamil also revealed she has the autoimmune disease Hashimoto's thyroiditis in 2019.[99]

In 2020, because of apparent inconsistencies in her accounts of illnesses, allergies, assaults, accidents and injuries, Jamil was accused of having Munchausen syndrome, wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves. She denied that she has the condition.[100][101][102][103]

Jamil has also stated she has experienced anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in various interviews.[104][105] On 10 October 2019, as part of World Mental Health Day, Jamil stated she survived a suicide attempt six years prior. She criticised the lack of services for those who struggled with mental health issues. She also stated that she partook in EMDR therapy to treat her post traumatic stress disorder.[106]

Performances[edit]

Film[edit]

Film appearances by Jameela Jamil
Year Title Role Notes
2019 How to Build a Girl Cleopatra
2021 Marry Me

Television[edit]

Television appearances by Jameela Jamil
Year Title Role Notes
2009–2012 Freshly Squeezed Herself Lead host
T4 Herself Host
2012 Playing It Straight Herself Host
2014 Celebrity Juice Herself Series 11, episode 8
2015 The Great Comic Relief Bake Off Herself Series 2, episode 3
2016–2020 The Good Place Tahani Al-Jamil Main cast
2018 Hollywood Game Night Herself Episode: "Ho Ho Holiday Game Night"
Last Call with Carson Daly Herself Host, recurring segment, Wide Awake with Jameela Jamil
2019, 2020 DuckTales Gandra Dee, W.A.N.D.A (voice) 3 episodes
The Misery Index Herself Lead host
Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate Herself
2020 American Dad! Christine S. (voice) Episode: "Exquisite Corpses"
Big City Greens Phoenix (voice) Episode: "Animal Farm"
Crossing Swords Sloane (voice) 4 episodes
Harley Quinn Eris (voice) Episode: "Bachelorette"
Legendary Herself Judge[107][108]
Mira, Royal Detective Auntie Pushpa (voice) Recurring role[109]
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous Roxie (voice) Recurring role

Radio[edit]

Radio appearances by Jameela Jamil
Year Title Role Notes
2012 The Radio 1 Request show with Jameela Jamil[110] Host BBC Radio 1
2013–2015 The Official Chart Host BBC Radio 1
2013 The Official Chart Update Co-host BBC Radio 1

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Scott Mills
BBC Radio 1
Chart show presenter

13 January 2013 – 18 January 2015
Succeeded by
Clara Amfo