|Intro||British actress and radio presenter|
|Type|| Fashion |
Film, TV, Stage & Radio
|Birth|| 25 February 1986 |
, Hampstead, United Kingdom
Jameela Alia Burton-Jamil is an English actress, radio presenter, model, and writer. 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.
Following a breast cancer scare 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. 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.
Jamil was born in Hampstead, London, England, United Kingdom, to an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. She was born with congenital hearing loss and labyrinthitis, which she has had several operations to correct. She stated in 2015 that she had 70% audibility in her left ear and 50% in her right ear. Jamil says she was “bookish and shy” at school. At the age of nine, she was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disorder causing loose joints, joint pain, stretchy skin, and abnormal scar formation. 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:
I was bombarded with a narrative that had no alternative. There were never any women who were celebrated for their intellect … and all of my magazines were selling me weight loss products or telling me to be thin. Otherwise, I wasn’t worth anything.
At the age of 17, Jamil was struck by a car while running from a bee, breaking several bones and damaging her spine. She was told that she might never walk again, but she slowly recovered after steroid treatment and physiotherapy, using a Zimmer frame to start walking. She cites the car accident as what pushed her towards recovery, stating that it changed her relationship with her body and figuratively “knocked some sense” into her. She attended Queen’s College School in London and taught English to foreign students at the Callan School of English in London. She also worked as a model, photographer, and fashion scout for Premier Model Management Limited.
2009–2015: Early career in the media
Jamil appeared on the E4 show Music Zone towards the end of 2008. She began presenting T4 in 2009. In January 2009, Alexa Chung left the morning TV show Freshly Squeezed; Jamil succeeded her as co-host, alongside Nick Grimshaw.
Jamil presented The Closet, an online fashion advice show on the social networking site Bebo. Created and produced by Twenty Twenty Television, it formed part of the Bebo Originals commission programme. Jamil was photographed for a Vogue feature on “British Editorial Class of 2010” in January of that year, by David Bailey.
From 2011 to 2014 she wrote a column for Company, the women’s monthly magazine. In January 2012, Jamil replaced June Sarpong as the new host of the reality show Playing It Straight. In 2012, it was announced that Reggie Yates would leave BBC Radio 1 and Jamil would replace him. 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. In June 2012, Jamil collaborated with Very to debut her first fashion collection.
2016–present: Transition into acting
— Jamil, on being the first female host of The Official Chart
Following a breast cancer scare, Jamil left London and moved to Los Angeles, with no plans of acting, instead intending to work as a screenwriter. 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.
The show premiered in September 2016, with Jamil being a regular cast member of the NBC fantasy comedy series The Good Place, where she plays Tahani Al-Jamil, alongside Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Jamil’s character became known for her tendency to name drop.
Jamil made her first American magazine cover on the February 2018 edition of The Cut. She provided her voice as a guest on the animated television series DuckTales. 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. In 2018, Jamil hosted a recurring segment on Last Call with Carson Daly during its final season, entitled “Wide Awake with Jameela Jamil”.
Since 2019, Jamil has been the host of The Misery Index, a comedy game show on TBS.
Late in 2015, Jamil launched Why Not People?, an events and membership company dedicated to hosting live entertainment events accessible to people with disabilities. In March 2018, Jamil created an Instagram account called I Weigh, 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. 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”. 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. In part due to this work, Jamil was listed as one of BBC’s 100 Women during 2018.
Jamil has been a critic of diet shakes and eating suppressant products. She explained that as a teenager she starved herself, took laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a low weight. She has criticised rapper Cardi B, the Kardashians and other influencers for promoting diet suppressants via social media. 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.
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.
Jamil also supports the climate change movement, expressing her admiration for Jane Fonda, Greta Thunberg and several other climate change activists. She stated that she herself does not want to get arrested for the cause, because of her brown female immigrant status.
Jamil appeared on C4 Orange Rockcorps 2009, volunteering to help create a concert to fund local community projects. She has supported the Cultural Learning Alliance, which promotes access to culture for children and young people, and Vinspired National Awards for people aged 16–25 who have contributed to their communities through volunteering. Jamil designed her own version of SpongeBob SquarePants to be auctioned off with all the proceeds going to Childline.
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.
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.
On 2 August 2019, Jamil was awarded “Advocate of the Year” from the Ehlers-Danlos Society.
Jamil has been in a relationship with musician James Blake since 2015. She is openly queer.
On the 1 October 2018 episode of Good Morning America – complete with video footage – Jamil revealed that she lost a tooth, smashed her nose, broke her elbow 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.
In May 2019, Jamil shared that she had an abortion earlier in her life. She stated, “It was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially.”
On 10 October 2019, as part of World Mental Health Day, Jamil revealed she survived a suicide attempt six years prior. She criticised the lack of services for those who struggled with mental health issues. She also revealed that she partook in EMDR therapy to treat her post traumatic stress disorder.