Jameela Jamil, the star of NBC’s The Good Place, talks political activism, how men can be better feminists, and her personal version of heaven.
But first, the basics:
Top 3 Feminist Men:
- James Blake, my boyfriend
- George Clooney
- Mike Schur, creator of The Good Place
Has being on a show about the afterlife made you consider what happens after we die?
I’m not religious, so I don’t think about heaven and hell. But if I did believe in hell, I’m going—because I’m an actor, which means I’m inherently a dick.
What is your version of “the good place”?
Being fed cake while spooning for eternity.
You founded the “I Weigh” body-inclusivity movement. Why was that important to you?
I’ve been many different sizes. But even if you are slim, this industry still scrutinizes you, monetizes you, and weaponizes your body against you. I had anorexia and body dysmorphia.
How did you learn to overcome that?
English people are very ashamed of mental health problems and therapy. I realized that going to a therapist for something that doesn’t feel good in my mind is the same as going to the doctor when I had a broken arm or a sore throat.
You’ve publicly criticized Cardi B and Khloé Kardashian for selling diet pills and teas. Isn’t that a risky career move?
I lose a lot of endorsements because they would require me being a part of this culture that shames people into thinking they need to be something that they’re not, and that without this product, they’re worthless. By whistle-blowing, I’m doing my part to clean up some of the toxicity that my industry is responsible for.
MEN FEEL VERY LEFT OUT OF FEMINISM. I MAKE SURE THAT MY FEMINISM INCLUDES MEN AND RECOGNIZES THEY CAN BE GREAT ALLIES.
Do people ever say, “Easy for you—you’re a babe”?
It’s a very interesting way to silence all people. If you’re not conventionally attractive, then you’re not allowed to talk about it because you’re just jealous and bitter. If you are conventionally attractive, then you’re not allowed to talk about it because you’re too privileged. Who gets to talk about it?
Do you ever think about running for office?
God, no. Because social media has become so prominent in our culture, I can actually do more from where I am.
You refer to yourself as a “feminist in progress.” What does that mean?
I think we’re all feminists in progress, whatever gender we are. It’s just saying that I would like to do better and be better and help society progress, but I also accept that I have blind spots. Men feel very left out of feminism. I make sure that my feminism includes men, has empathy toward men, and recognizes that they can be great allies.
How can men be allies?
Just accept when you’ve been wrong, and take the L. Then educate yourself by listening to others and reading about people you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid that you don’t already have all the answers. Trying is winning.
It sounds like you’re very in touch with how men can be part of the movement.
Some of my best friends are guys, and I live with an amazing man [English musician James Blake]. He’s very open to talking about mental health and feelings, and he’s a very emotionally intelligent and funny person. I got very lucky.
You’ve been together for a few years. Does getting married matter to you?
I think we would get married only for tax purposes or to be next of kin. I find the institution of marriage quite archaic, but unfortunately a lot of the law still revolves around it.
How did you and James meet?
We met at work—we were both DJs at radio stations—and became friends for a long time before we fell in love.
Do you think it helps to be friends first?
Yeah, because we’re all liars and salespeople when we start dating. What’s great about being friends first is that by the time you fall in love, you can’t put a fake barrier around you.
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