Jameela Jamil has revealed that she was told she was “too old, too ethnic, too fat” to launch a career in the USA.
It’s almost impossible to believe, but Jameela Jamil had never acted before being cast as Tahani al-Jamil in Mike Schur’s The Good Place. In fact, most Brits will know her from her TV presenting days (T4 and Freshly Squeezed, anyone?).
Yet, despite this lack of experience, Jamil has proven herself to be a seriously adept and intuitive comic actress – and fans all over the world have fallen in love with her character in the hit Netflix show.
Now, the actress has revealed that she was “actively discouraged” from moving to Hollywood by some in the UK.
Recalling how she packed up and flew to Los Angeles without a job or even a plan, she told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Anna Foster: “I was literally starting again and I was actively discouraged by everyone in England.
“Everyone said I was being mad, throwing away an eight-year career, and that I was too old – I was only 29 – too ethnic, and too fat to come over to Los Angeles.”
While she has since gone on to prove those naysayers wrong in a very big way (the ultimate revenge, in our opinion), Jamil went on to acknowledge that Los Angeles is a “devil’s lair” for negative focus on body image.
“When I get Photoshopped by magazines – some people change the shape of my nose to make my nose look less ethnic – they don’tt tell me and it’s really offensive,” she said.
“I don’t feel flattered when a magazine creates this ‘flawless’ version of me. Instead, I feel really offended because that’s no longer my face. I’ve got a tiny Caucasian nose, my skin has been lightened, my pores have been removed, my stretch marks have been removed.”
Jamil added that this editing sometimes damaged her confidence, saying: “[These are] things that I don’t have a problem with – then I can’t help but think, ‘Wow, what I brought wasn’t good enough’. Being Photoshopped is so offensive.”
This is, in part, the reason behind Jamil’s I Weigh account on Instagram. With over 10,000 followers and 300 posts, the account places value on women’s achievements and values, rather than how many kilograms they weigh, in a bid to help them “feel valuable and see how amazing we are, and look beyond the flesh on our bones”.
However, while Jamil has found women’s contributions to her new Instagram account both inspiring and encouraging, the actress still believes “we are in crisis” and changes need to be made for women everywhere to show more self-love.
You can find out more about the I Weigh campaign here.