« Good Life Project

Jameela Jamil | On Adversity, Celebrity and Activism

2020-05-26 | 🔗

Jameela Jamil an actor, writer, podcaster, and activist. Leaving behind a high-profile life as a host and DJ on two of the UK's most iconic TV and radio shows, a health scare led her to make a radical change that delivered her into a new life in Los Angeles with the intention of shifting into writing. But, fate had a different plan. Never having acted before, she auditioned for and landed a starring role as Tahani on NBC's The Good Place, opposite Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. Seeking to leverage her growing influence to become a voice for change and equality, she launched activism platform, I Weigh. This rapidly became a global movement to mobilize activism, around issues of mental health, climate change, equality for marginalized groups, and what she calls "radical inclusivity." In April, Jamil launched the ‘I WEIGH podcast, where she hosts thought-leaders, performers, activists, influencers, and friends, exploring how they are working through their past shames to find where their value truly lies.

You can find Jameela Jamil at:

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/jameelajamilofficial/

Jameela's Podcast : https://www.earwolf.com/show/i-weigh-with-jameela-jamil/


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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
My guest today is Jamila. Gmail too was a household name in the uk for years hosting shows tee for war and on BBC one before launching into the spotlight in the? U s playing the role of two honey on the acclaim. Tv show the good place what so powerful about her story beyond her life in the world of entertainment, though, is where she is. I'm from and how she is choosing to use her notoriety for social good growing up the indian and pakistani parents. She was often bullied and experience may tougher after being diagnosed with ehler stana syndrome, which is a condition that affects the bodies, connective tissue and leads to chronic pain in so many With her thirteen year she endured, she trauma more trauma, anorexia and then a car accident that lead spinal injury. That would really profoundly changed her release
with her body, then finding her way into the world of work, and then tv and radio in the uk she over to the? U s after an awakening that we talk about our conversation but found herself in full. Does the camera performing on a set with her childhood heroes on network tv, but it was her. Vision to speak truth, the power and become an advocate for equality, inclusive iii and self determination that has run to become the centre of who Jamila is and how she shows up the world a place. She describes as being post. Shame and that led to the launch of social advocacy platform. I way in turn eighteen on a quest to bring together and amplify the voices of change bakers along with a new podcast by the same a video channel. It really bigger social movement to change things at scale. We dived into all of this in today's The eye opening an insult
in conversation, so excited to share with you. I'm Jonathan fields- and this is good life project. the so the ten percent happier podcast has one guiding philosophy. Happiness is still that you can
It's a why not embrace it. It's hosted by dan harris journalists who had a panic attack on national television and then send out on this journey of transformation and he's now on a quest to help others also achieve peace and happiness, and every week Dan talked you top scientists, meditation teachers. Even the odd celebrity in wide ranging conversations that explore topics like productivity, anxiety and lightness, psychedelic and relationships. The interviews cover everyone from bernay brown to cerebral ass to SAM Harrison more. I love learning from his questions and experiences and incredible guess think of listening to ten percent happier as a work out for your mind, fine ten percent happier where every listen to pot casts How does a I even work where it is creativity, come from it's the secret to living longer, ted radio. Our explores the biggest questions with some of the world's greatest thinkers. They will
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In new york right now, you're an ally which were gets. You been for a number of years, but really not in london that would have been what new public lay eightys and ninetys. When, sir, let you really her coming later. Here I mean I, I should have spent a lot of time in pakistan and spain in my most formative by early is, and then we kind of settled in london. fully fully after I was about probably eight years old So we are all over. The place was back and forth. We basically one wherever the pound was strongest gotta. There has not not military. There was at least a business. Everything further effort to your parents were shown there now, actually just didn't, have any money, so we would go wherever the pound was strongest and so sometimes it really dependent on the economy of different countries. That's where we would go and live ass. If we had relatives that we ve done the praise because we can pay rent so after the first couple of years I moved around the lot and then somewhere between
Six, and I said it already kind of settled back into england and that are going to school here, and I I grew up in so of all over london, ready again depended on rent depended on when bailiffs throughout our houses. Yeah did you have and to that I mean even when you were little kid, did you have that sense of that really works going on, or is it only, and I say no lean years, very we're close knit family, and you know I think bessie when you're in a single parent household, there isn't much space few mother to lie to you about going on or who the man at the door who had taken the television now and so you know, I think I had a very palpable understanding of our economic situation very young, but you know I wasn't starving or anything wasn't completely homeless. I lived in a time in england where we really took care of those who would disadvantage compared to now. You know we used to and it wasn't a stigma
I asked if there was a single mother who was looking after two kids who couldn't manage to work full time as well as look after those two children, then we would help her find housing and we would help her have an income that was possible for her family to live off of, and so I feel incredibly fortunate. We are ceased to help kids with school fees, so I was a to get assisted places as what we used to call them, which is similar to a scholarship, disadvantaged children. You know so I had to say of it, but I also felt very taken care of by my government in a way that I don't think a lot of children can relate to. Nowadays it was the source of the last of them. The good side of a bike. I guess it was. They were the last really good days for those of us who were already taking a beating. life yeah- and I mean I know- is it as its wishes young kid. There is a lot to take care of. That means there is a lot going on and also sounds like from the earliest days you ve done
struggles with everything from hearing loss to health issues, ehlers endless when your server, I kid also sought to know that there was someone or something or something in that that was in some way shape or form. Gonna help you be ok, I dont know how americans cope without a national health service tat the heat. That's one of the number one things I feel so grateful for in my childhood is is free doctor. is a nice is growing up as a a chronically sick child with those Parliamentary or people in my family we'd all be dead without enough. health service, there is no way we would have been able to afford insurance co. Pay is in all these different things. I can't believe that the state of health care in this country- and I love america but if so many of the homeless people that you see these aren't these aren't people who are just all drug addicts, you know and and sort of fuck ups. These are people who often got said for a family member got kalsaken. They were crushed
that the medical bells and that's what's, let them to lose the house and that for their job and and everything else, and so The national health service is how I survived And- and I really really don't know what I would have done without them. and it was about time and also in our I, it is a child, so we would make at. We would give parents extra support if you had a child with a disability. This is something that is again being rolled back in. right now, yet the I'm curious did you, I mean, obviously as you got older and new, especially in a recent populist decade or so the really strong. of service to strike a better society and especially to those who are in some way disenfranchise or don't have a sense of power. Do you feel that early experience with you in any way planted the seeds fours disorder like orientation with you, yeah course. I definitely do this for fun. It's not from putting myself in the firing line with society
Media is not a decision that one takes lightly. It doesn't make your existence more glamorous, it doesn't make you sleep better you don't and more money. You definitely are significantly less money over him, so fine and living in privilege, but this is a the only reason to be this relentlessly annoying publicly is because I grew up knowing what it was like. to be on the other side of this and to be a victim of the pitfalls of assets pretty and our narratives and that's? Why? Now that I have a position, How much I was told I would never ever reach because of what I was born into. I feel such a strong sense of duty to to allow people to a call to arms, to identify the poison in our culture and push back again That does not make sense tat. No, it actually does lieutenant
Also as of the things that you struggled with or lived with, as as a young kid one of them was certain american of hearing loss. If yeah, correctly so which I guess to a certain extent, remains to this day. Yeah. the mind he may know also that out there I'm Jennifer passed off. I've had yet she began to lose your hearing and she fell. That it made her hyper attentive to those around her because she had to really she reads lips. He didn't he hadn't studied, read left. She just learned. That's the way that she made and she needs to pay intense attention and it created almost this zone of connection with people around her that she felt, while the hearing loss is something that she didn't wish for, and she struggled with that capacity to be hyper present with people has been something that you really treasure yeah. I think I mean it made a kind of came in two different forms of me. I became hyper observant because you have to learn how to reach people from more than just that.
words which being incredibly valuable later on, especially if you find yourself in a snake pit. Take listened treat that I'm in very rarely to people's words match their intentions. You can actually read somewhere like an m r. I almost, but also it made me quite stary person, so a stare a lot still and that makes me seem creepy freaks people out. So it's a it's been hit and miss, but I definitely wouldn't go back and change that time because of how it shaped me and how much? me extra appreciative of music and how comfortable it made me in silence and how much more thoughtful. I think it made me because I had a stillness that a lot of children don't have access to because of the chaos of puberty, etc and just getting older. So I had a very tranquil. You know, and I grew up in a chaotic household and I had a very tranquil existence within that, because
So much chaos. You can access when you can't hear ya. I know when you're, I guess you hit your late teens, seven hanisch or something like that. Do that up until then. Also at some point, social anxiety and erects here becomes. A part of your existence is well serve layering on top of everything else, you're sure dealing with iran, but is also just call being a girl in the nineties. I dont know if any of us escaped without anxiety in some sort of eating sorted vega. Mine was deafening extreme, but not ready more so than the other girls in my school. Everyone had a problem with that body. Image there were girls are within. I sat next to girls, go he's bring in a weighing scale every day, and stand on it while eating her lunch to see if the number the dial go out and that would stop her from over indulging. So you know, I guess I definitely struggled severely with anorexic,
that also really and not in any way that stood out, I wasn't much thinner than the other girls must go. We will all trying to have jutting headphones and jutting groups, because we were told That was what was the only standard of beauty and the only standard worthiness and a woman was too to be a small and childlike in your frame is possible. Yeah. I mean and also we're talking matter. I guess late nineties here, so that was the time in fashion where in the quote heroine. She comes from right, which is out on reflecting on that you're like I now does not become the standard, so embarrassed assistance like this, and it was also a tie. While we were learning for the first time, truly, very publicly: mainstream media about actual famine, but was going on in third world countries. So the idea the over in the west, where we had access to abundance that we were trying to like the look of famine. That wasn't genuinely currently happening to tens.
if millions of people around the world is so mortifying, when you think about it, that is hard to swallow yeah. It's strange the way that people can be influenced so powerfully that I mean which kind of fascinating about about what you're sharing too is at. So I reckon a bounce around a little bit towards the end of last year. You end up on the cover of british vogue with ostensibly sixteen women ashley fifteen women, and that a little slot, which is from mirror, said the person looking at it feels that they have a spacer to the photographer. That was chosen for that. Yet Peter lindbergh, whose legendary and space and also legendary an interesting way. He always he was somebody who actually hated make up and women he absolutely hit. You wanted nothing to do with air brushing back in the day or photoshop now, and yet in the nineties here Also one of the people who was surely photographing a lot of the people who sort of like set the standard for what was to be near
a beauty than I think so, as everyone who would have been won. His twenty send that Well just isn't he found a semi post twiggy in a David bailey discovered twiggy. So I will have a slight boned pet, christopher, petty home, first notices, bats twiggy, I think she's beautiful island and that's not That is how I felt that the world surrounded her aesthetic ass. The only singular beauty standard, but I think young photographers back then, were all we're all just photographing. What was in front the man that was emaciated girls and liked about working with Peter is again. He wouldn't let me where any make up. Wouldn't let me approach seven, a m and because I just like a forum in my time- and I felt like I had testicles- really underneath my eyes and he loved that and he was like great- was bring out the spring outlay
obstacles and shot me in eight day. Nowhere brushing cover evoke cup. I loved it s already liberating and he got me to wear pajamas rather than anything, kind of structured and fancy I will. I will always remember him and his work fondly, but yeah I mean he was definitely part of every at mean. Everyone in that time was complicit in a culture that they thought was acceptable and they thought it was beautiful. yeah I mean when it becomes normalized on that level. It's just sort of like this is the way it's supposed to be across everybody and can imagine what it would take to really just stand out and say and say: no I mean effectively. You would have had to be willing to walk away from your career. We are witches which we now see. People doing in on a different level. I'm lucky I didn't have a career because I was not a successful teen model. You know I didn't make it
as a teenager. I started and I went costings and everything, but I was also trying to juggle school at the same time and as south asian and I would just no south asian models, at the time. So it was definitely difficult to break through in that moment, and then I got hit by a car and pulled out of the modeling industry, thank god. Otherwise I'd probably be dead now, but I'm very very, very, very happy that I was not six phil during that time, because I got like considering how badly I've already messed up my organs from my eating disorders behaviour during that time. I can't imagine what it would have happened if I was also smoking and taken cocaine and and containing may situation for as long as it would take to be successful model ankara. The idea you described the the car accident in a weird way, almost as a blessing, something that ended up to a spinal cord injury in and pretty much took you out of,
involving people outside of your your home for better part of a year, maybe longer I was bound, Does it wasn't that bad? I really strong painkillers and a cable tv, So while I would never undermine the experience, some one else at them I actually found not to be quite a good year I had a morphine drip and I've gotten I was. I was living my best life eating ice cream off my face watching frasier, so I don't have a terribly poor memories of that time by third vivid memories at that time, because I used to watch tv day and night because I didn't really happen, friends and I in my family were not in their most social moment so this alone most days all day every day, pretty much other one. I would need to toilet, and so I would watch television compulsively and I think, a lot of what I learned came
tv so for better or worse, I learned how to identify my mental illness from watching Oprah, and I learned comedy from friends and frazier and and sister sister, and I learned, I guess, probably how to host just via osmosis, because I went I stumbled into the entertainment industry was just sort of instinctively known what to do and how to carry myself without any any kind of media training, any kind of acting school, or anything like that. I have just always had an instinct for how to perform on camera, which must come from just compulsive addictive television watching us knew what to do its bit ly. The king of comedy, ring the bucket met yet Global private aviation leader is known for personalizing every detail of your travels because net, yet standard is not just to meet their definition of perfection its
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notes and use promo code. Good life choose I herb because, while miss matters, the sea there too. I guess you talk english warrior or something about things, and then you land, you and replacing elected chung on tee for no experience basically walking in sang a cam. I'm here I mean interesting in that way. You just shared it wasn't like you, something you trained to do it and aspire to be in entertainment for the time you're a kid yet so oddly comfortable. It sounds like from the earliest times you I'm in also for the entertainment and choose ready, vacuous and because of how I'd seen how much damaged my own self esteem. And how we re south asians were just me, color. In general, I have had an interesting in the entertainment industry like beyond my teens, so I really didn't expect it. But then I found out that the payment was a thousand pounds a day and that sporting
it makes it a month threatened. I went to the open coup and somehow just delivered an audition. I was up against the entire country, but I I think at the confident to someone who thinks this is such a longshot I'll, never make it so I'm as well just relax and enjoy it and which ultimately always helps you perform better. The same thing happened with a good place, audition, but be I just I don't know why, but I just knew exactly what to do and that must have just been from subliminally studying television during my car accident is shit. Faced on. it's an thereby passed. All of this unjust went straight into muscle. Memory now see started from. between not long after that, you end up at jan bbc, one hosting a show which, from what I know- and you can tell me his right or not so the official chart was never hosted by one before was now. Are you
and been on at the sixty years, and never let a woman take the rank as a very Our initiative shows that the billboard one two hundred in view of the EU are there the authority. You get the hand the number one over the over to the artists of some reason. That was just never given to a woman, and I was very lucky to be made that first woman, and so I got to make history at twenty six, which was very unexpected and a lot of pressure, but an experience that I enjoyed much took a minute to find my feet because again, similarly to tv, it trained. I hadn't done student, radio and hadn't really gone to school pissy at sixteen, so I was thrown right in the deep end and just had to figure out swim took a minute, but eventually it went really well and the ratings are good, and I will always look back on that as a defining moment for my career, because it was the first time in my four years on television at that time, were it wasn't about how I looked, and it wasn't about my skirt and my fashion and my legs I was,
actually the sexualized, and I was able to learn how to entertain people. asked with my mind just with my voice- and you know you it's a day cool job. You have to drive the desk, see you at the home of the bbc at your fingertips and you are controlling every single sound. The people can hear at the same time is telling a story while a timer counting down, and you have to perfectly hit that time in your life There was no arava any mistakes and it turned went to a less of conscious and a better host a maybe person cause you become less contrived, isn't it video game. It's interesting also because you're so you're than in. We are aware it is one hundred about your voice and a hundred percent about your ability to relate to people with nothing, but the sound of your voice coming straight into years. I guess you caught me: no, no, not at all a problem, but it mean the difference between what
What I do and what you were doing was the real time nature of it, which is profoundly different. You know we're sitting here, I'm in my studio in new york, like you're in your place in l, a and we're making this happen, and we can touch up anything that happens later if somebody stumbles or fumbles or wants to refund they can. But when you're on the mic and you're alive- and you know potentially millions of people are listening to you and you know the it's really fascinating training in being just absolutely present in the moment and having to it's like it forces you to let go of whatever you thought you should have or shouldn't have said three seconds ago, because you can't stay there. You have to be in like wherever. The second is right, then, I think you can do anything after you, ve done a baby's anything with an entertainment. You can't go do brain surgery on a child, but you can do any within this industry, once you've done live radio, where you are the controller as well as the host. It's terrifying. It is terrifying
but it's incredibly exhilarating. You can't sleep until life for an because you're still buzzing everything, but we can never wears off because it huge risk. Go entire reputation is on the line every time, the red light, That says, on air, comes on an all my tv Thing was mostly live as well. By the way is a twenty two jumped into this industry. They put me straight on I've television by myself, like five, am so I've. I've only ever really no knife until now, which is why acting felt ready, fucking strange to me all the tax in the south and the like god. So It was almost too much room for error. I think I made more mistakes because I had too much room for mistakes. That's interesting! It was like you had the luxury. You know that you can wear so you do, and humans have the capacity to over. Think it's one of our almost sort of a stifling. habits and dominant rate for most people. I think I'm running
time. You're. Also writing fur company magazine. was writing something that was following. You found an earlier time or was it- is early, can emerging interest or just something that you happen to fall into again. I felon I've got the most charm less career trajectory that has ever had. And I did and even shock anyone today. Why have I didn't even do that work? You know what I mean I didn't even I gave no hand jobs whatsoever to I know was interested. Actually I think I would the only person to have a fact that way down and industry, because no is, my greatest skill, a type a I I I just I have somehow it's the universe's way for making up for what a shitty start I had, but I have somehow just been at the right place at the right time consistently for over a decade in a way that mesmerize is made law and I'm baffled by it, but
because I had this big shiny new job and because I was being noticed for my fashion sense at twenty two, twenty three, as is often the case with a young new emerging it go, which is what I was I was asked. If I would write a fashion column and off writing my first you I realized. I didn't really care about fashion. at that time. I didn't know what I was talking about. I'd never had money until now, so I'd never grown up with like a pedigree in understanding fashion. I just thought it was something he used to get cover. Your tits the third thing you don't get arrested, so I asked them if I could start branching out into something outside of that. I would actually find interesting- and I found social commentary to be my strength, and so I stay they allowed me after reading my samples and it turned within
couple of we a couple of months from a fashion blog into justa, my of hot, take on our society, and it grew over the course of eight years and became a real love of mine, but I found purely by accident. You I mean this is so you're you're, developing a voice, a placed her It's like the bbc is is satisfying one particular need for expression. Tv before that was satisfying different need. Writing was satisfying a different either cut it all blended together to create different outlets for different parts of yourself and you're also gaining a tremendous amount of exposure across uk, then you become very noticeable. I'm even though you're not primarily on the bbc you're still very forward facing very visually identifiable there and I know you, you have shown you in and you ve written about some around the age of twenty six weeks, was right around then you
start to really struggle in described it as having a breakdown and a suicide attempt. What came together in that sort of like season for you that lead you to that place? I think a lot of people find, as they start to upright thirty, that old all my that they ve buried starts to surface whether or not you like. I don't know, if that's because that's where we really become adults, that's when we really starting to shape it. We're going to become, I think it's a ridiculous fallacy The idea that we are adults from eighteen onwards, known as shit or eighteen or twenty or twenty five, even I really think attorney as you start to approach your thirties, that you start to understand who you are, what your place in the world is and what you plan to do, onwards. So, all of mild shit that I too was buried under jokes and performative, such playfulness. Suddenly,
I couldn't hide from any more and so the combination of that and being way to famous for someone who so introverted and someone who is not built for fame, because I'm an unfiltered and unusual woman, I think, having peppers inside my household day every day, photographing me speculating over my weight speculating over my love life speculating over my existence stoking the on every single walk. I would go to having obese. bizarre narratives constructed around who I am and what I stand full by the media. It all just a sort of melted down the combination of actual mental illness, that I've been running from my entire life and the media Giving me. No, that's not me yeah, but society giving me no space to grow because once you're in the public eye, you become held kind of accountable, as if you are some sort of perfect omniscient saint, and so I just cracked a guess at twenty six,
and had a full on explosive nervous breakdown that no one else so publicly. I didn't leave my house, other than to run into a cab and go into my radio show and come back, but my whole life fell apart and it He now also it very well physically at the time- and I have a listener syndrome, which is very painful and relentless condition that you are born with and it only degenerates with age. And so will you a pain every single day and you go to bed every night and pain and none of your organs work properly because it affects every single sat in your body and your swollen all the time at really predictable inconvenient moments for a job that is very much so forward facing and were you in the spotlight and being scrutinised? How you look you just sometimes I can't take it anymore, and so I gave up, but thankfully I failed and
suicide was not something I turned out to have a talent for I'd attempted twice in my life and and am not been successful both times, and so I decided that if going to carry on in this world. Then I'm going to have to address everything that has led me to this point of collapse and go through it meticulously and study my trauma and understand my patterns and map. My way out of what was essentially insanity, and so that's what the last kind of eight years of my life has been just as an experiment, where I feel myself with a crash test stomach to try anything other than hard drugs, and I know that help me figure out who actually am when I'm not trying to be his side. He wants me to be thus my height. Rebellious behaviour in the last couple of years. There I mean it
it's interesting habitat frame, because it's almost like a lot of what is happening. Public lay is, word expression of your own in her quest to figure out who exactly am I, if not defined by the the expectations in the frames If everybody who exists outside of me, yeah and the patriarchy, you know who who, who am? I really you know if you think about how early we stopped being conditioned, it would have been the first time I turned on tv and saw a disney princess always being and and and my own family. And my lineage aware that the place where I come from means that you know we have a very specific coding for women's behaviour. So I've been soaked in conditioning from as early as I could understand, and so How will women in particular those of us who are very controlled? How will we ever supposed to work out who we really are when we're so keeping bombarded with who were supposed to be, and I guess that's what happened to me. Twenty six was that sort of the light bulb moment
I have no idea who I am I'm lost and that's why I feel so able dispose of my life, because I don't care about this life because I don't know this person, so I can easily the cute them, because they don't mean anything to me, because how can anyone who you dont know really mean something to you truly does not make sense yeah? I know it makes absolute sense and, at the same I don't want to gloss over the fact that you shared that with Ella's diana's you there is there's chronic pain I made it affects different people in different ways. If it it shows up for you in your life as
pain that is always there as dysfunction then, where you never quite know what you know, how things are going to be on any given day. You know, waking up and then functioning in a very public way means masking that which means at some point when, whenever we repress something like that, whether it's emotional or physical pain, it comes out, you know some way, shape or form oftentimes by illness oftentimes through at some point. It needs to find a way out so sort of like if you're covering it, if you're sort of like keeping it at bay on an everyday basis at some point really get to it. It's going to show up whether it's that or whether it's just all the other things that pile in to create it was it put me in a really interesting trap, because in this industry you have to sign insurance forms when you work. So you cover up your health problems at all costs like no matter what you doing, you're wearing the heels even they go. Ankles are on the verge of waiting for something and swollen and sitting in your feet, swelling like you, people by two thousand and
don't do very well and in very cold conditions, especially when our joints are affected. But you were the many scott and the freezing cold. You were all to make. You look like the pitcher of health. You present as the picture of health, because otherwise you're going to lose work as industry and our societies are fundamentally able list. So that means that later, when you come out and finally open up about all these things that you ve struggled with because you looked fine all along and presented, is very able. Bodied people doubt your story and they doubt your integrity, because also we don't understand the concept of invisible disability an invisible illness and chronic illness is that if you cannot see someone's leg, literally severed off. Essentially, then, you don't believe what is with them. We have a similar attitude towards mental health. If somebody looks fine, we presume fine, we don't ever look, we ve never been taught to look beneath the surface, so yeah that was, as it was, a it's been an interesting journey for me with my health debts,
it's like he. You know you work so hard to project an image of strength and when you finally say you know it, I just that this needs to come out that actually works against you in this really bizarre well yeah. I've just been accused of having lunch. Thousands like publicly on mass so wishes so hilarious ridiculous in the person who did it is just some sort of washed up journalists. Now no doctor, not one of my dogs is, and I can't believe I had to defend that my boyfriend, who cares for me at defend my integrity to the public basins, random accusation- but I guess that it highlighted an inherent ableism in society is very interesting to see how quickly people jumped on that. I think is also some inherit like misogyny in that, where it's like a woman must be his there, it must be lying and must be dishonest and manipulative, but it yeah is it
very strange to be second in paying for a large portion of your life and then to be sort of globally gaslight over it. After surviving so long against your will, but not wanting to about both times. I've tried to commit suicide massively do too course mental illness, but also just an inability to cope with being chronically sick. So that was very strange when that happened recently had been imagined. Do you, I guess around twenty sixteen ash, which was as you're sort of emerging from that particular window? You have a cancer scare that knock on wood ends up being okay and yet required. Some surgery, and part of the promise you made to yourself, is that if this comes out, okay, you're, basically on a plane away from london to the: u s where you land and allay yeah I've, so grateful. I find so grateful to be ok.
I have lost a lot of cancer, my family and so, and we lost a lot of women in my family to cancer, and so I was so so scared that I've been way. in my life and as much as it wouldn't seem, workers rights monarchs observe living this incredibly glamorized distant, on television and getting to meet that Tom hanks Lucifer people. I wasn't happy, I didn't feel fulfilled and I was right. and how would back in england my love, england, for so many reasons, and I thank the british television and in radio industry for ever for having given me the law since and the opportunities that I had, but as a woman, you are certainly stereotyped more so learned- and I would say in america you know you're not likely to have much of a career of thirty traditionally and you have to maintain a very useful.
Very thin appearance- and you know if you are a tv centre, the new stay only being a tv sent you to never go into acting or comedy and anti know. You should be quiet and stay in your life and not be a nor ever pushed back against the very controlling patriarchal british media, and so you night, I was box then, and finding out that I could have lost. My life really gave me this month, I needed boost to be like okay, I'm fine, so now in case the next time this happens. I am not fine, I'm going to go in and you know grab life by both of its bulls and just see what happens. Have an adventure. You'd give myself something to look back on my deathbed. so you end up and allay, but not to be in front of a screen, which is why so many people end up going to lie. But
yeah. I should be on the other side of it, like you, show up in l, a to write in, and that becomes the focus for awhile and and yet not too far into your stint. In l a you do end up on the other side of the screen and once again, just as we shared you know, like you'd sort of like showed up on tv and then showed up at the bbc without having an experience, you effectively that that legend has it the story behind. Yet the audition for the good place is say: oh, it's, almost the same type of thing like never acted before, given this opportunity for a show with people who you are watching that year, when you're seventeen yeah he's really like some of the most iconic people on tv who had been there for a generation or two to say: hey. Can I step on set and play a major role in the show I really other I begged mighta, to reconsider. When you gave me the rogues, I told him I didn't know I was doing, and he just said
I decided for me that I did and I think that been similar with Aubrey plaza. You know where she wasn't necessarily an aspiring actor when he found her, but mike knows what he wants in a way that I find so admirable and he does Really listen to any one else, he's a complete rebel, often with industry, and so you know you cost for unknowns internally. Humble comedy, and to show, unlike anything with I've, seen it was so high concept and yet it was made for mainstream network and he taught higher generation, so much with a spoonful of sugar. It was all these lessons about morality and philosophy of rapid and dick and fought jokes. I think that that was just. I can't believe. I got bit part of that, and I you know it's similarly to my first ever tv audition. I just thought is no. What is known way might shows. Gonna give me a part in this. I've been forced to be hit by my managers, who, basically just now
have very many south asian to send to the solution that is for an overly toll south asian english woman who's a bit of an asshole chris, basically, is me, and- and so you know, I've been push towards. Thou edition was a little bit curious about what the experience would be like thought it would make for a funny column cause. I was still a writer of Silla columnist for england, so tell them about how I fucked up an audition in front of my chair and then by complete accident. I got it and now I can say I've spent four years studying ted danson face to face in beyond being on set with that crew. A couple of friends have surely been around in that space since the reputation the word about that set about that crew was, it was unusually kind. There is a lot of dignity and sat. I'm curious, whether that was your experience,
yes, I was just an incredible place to work in a very, very surreal to be honest that, like that, where you had fifty fifty men of female directors is male and female writers, and you had all these different different people from different backgrounds. It felt like a very multicultural space where you felt like you could see yourself when you would look out into the crew and people like you and yet while I was doing it was twenty sixteen. I think we began the me too and the times up movement, were starting to emerge and kick off, and so you Reading these horror stories about hollywood and these pervasive and insidious disgusting, arm and that women in particular are having to navigate just to survive in this industry, and yet here I was with this. comparative saint of a man who really pushed for the women to feel empowered and and intellectually stimulated by their characters, and he wrote nuanced complex interest.
roles for minorities that never. Today, our minority as I went, the story line. He just broke every single rule and was so kind and supportive and paid us all equally, and I couldn't relate to anything I was reading. I felt so grateful it did just the mentally changed my life, it changed. My life in every single way gave me faith in myself. It gave me faith in this industry gave me faith it. good allies out there like make sure- and I was given this platform from that show, on top of just being a part of something I really believed in it, then, Allow me to have the platform to start a movement that represented, but I believed in right to the fibre of my being, and so
it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I'd probably say that show in every way that tell me about the movements out of things, because so you're heading into Sorella, I guess, is probably the last season of the good place. Two thousand and eighteen as she started, instagram account. I weigh which ostensibly it's funny, because I've heard it does. In the past as body positivity, but it's really not that now and it never was, but it feels like I'm curious. because it feels like it has grown and expanded in the mission behind it has grown and expanded substantially, even just in the short amount of time it's been. There is no longer just an instagram account. This is a true movement Well, look: it has the reputation of being a body posted movement because know the media are more prone to if they're going to have this conversation at all having it with a slender convention, attractive woman, so that they can have the conversation but put her on the cupboards where she can fit into the catcher clothing and some
ices, and so it's just a very convenient way, I'm so thrilled that they had the conversation with me in this conversation was able to become mainstream because of that, and I love that they were willing to go there and have real conversations? Man not just reduce me down to conversations about my hat and my love life, but it was very tricky because I was therefore not intending to but was taking up space in the very positive movement which should be put on stand body positivity is a socio political movement that is, for women of a size where they are discriminated against by employers by doctors and they experience consistent mass abuse over their size and and discrimination on all fronts. Specially also in dating so the body positivity movement. Is that to teach him How to love bodies that the world actively hates- and it is some
that is for larger women. Slender people have commercialism, has come up to the body, positive movement as something that is the slender women who do yoga and have asked, who love their apps and say, I'm hashtag very positive, and I understand that there are completely malicious intentions. Not, but it's a raised, this very important, socio political movement, Slender women don't need body positivity, but we definitely still have the right to say that we struggle with a body image. I certainly do so. I practice body neutrality and that's kind of a lot of highway is its looking outside of your body is treating a body, is nothing other than a vessel that carry your mind and look at the ui on the inside. So the reason the movement cold. I way is that we weigh ourselves not on a weighing scale in numbers, but we were self, based on the sum of all of our parts, so I way my relationship, my financial independence, the lessons I've had to learn publicly thee eating disorder. I ever come all this way,
things I way my my activism, everything you know I I I the sum of all of my mother fucking parts and I am tired of being reduced to nothing more than inches and pounds and kilos, so it started as a statement against how we are made to feel as our bodies but very quickly merged into what was generally a conversation about acceptance, representation and mental health, and that's where we are at We have a million followers and instagram and we have changed a global policy on instagram and facebook that protects people, london, age of eighteen from diet, detox products and cosmetic surgery, procedures that are being sold to them, that, on regulated and being peddled influence, as you have zero morals, and we are also working on several bells in the united states to try to protect teenagers and end discrimination. So it's a
the full thing yeah, I'm Emily associates fascinating. If, if you do, you feel like the instragram account, which is really just yet. This is one small, visual representation of what's going on behind the scenes. It's also it's a platform, not you it's a platform to tell so many people's different stories, and you see yeah the the images the and and and people saying like you know. If you want to say that this is how you know you want away me. Let me tell you, let me tell you like that how much vaster the universe of things that comprise the value I contribute to world are at this moment and how much they will become over time and and it's this really powerful visual depiction of people project. aiming public lay reclaiming almost every player, their identity, tat, which is its edges incredibly powerful,
matter who you are, you just sit there and you start to move through it and it's emotional. I think it really moves you. I think yet that you have to have a pretty cold heart to to sort of look at this and say eh. You like changes, need to happen and and b that that anybody should be boxed in by a set of societal identifiers that Tell you what smart is. What stupid is? What beautiful is? What not you know why or how anyone should behave on the plan yeah. I think it was just important for us all to take back. The ownership No, it live in this incredibly narrow minded society were only thin has been the only young is beautiful. Only able bodied is beautiful. Only light skinned is beautiful, only good, clear, skin. This beautiful, I just we ve been so the image of the vast majority of society has been excluded from what is deemed cycle acceptable that doesn't make sense, is just bad business. It's bad business. To choose this, I mean it was very clever business to choose. This
Lately unattainable ideal and use it as a way to say that anything outside of this unacceptable, therefore use new must by all these products, to fix you yourself, because you are broken, and so you know that's. The marketing strategy has existed for thirty or forty years now, and it does work, but I reject it and I think that people are very smart. They just haven't been woken to the correct information you just have to help them. I done to find the evil and then they can make their own better decisions were not taught about this stuff in school were not towards about it. My parents, whenever warned, whenever educated on proper media literacy, how to understand the actual messaging of advertising, and so there as someone who does now understand that and whose, in the middle in the belly of the beast, I have, though, ready rare position to be able to with authority. From the inside blow the whole thing wide open, which is quite fun
fun and powerful. I mean where it's an interesting moment like as we're having this conversation for you right, because good place winds down and this kicking up in a really good big way. The world is going through some really big disruption and pain. When you think about the state that we're in right now and what role you want to play and your contribution sort of moving foward, It's really calling you right now. Is it I ways at something different or something? Is that a piece of a bigger puzzle? No it's a way. As I way we know, we've turned it into this giant movement. We have a lot of was to change laws take a very long time and also the company. In a mental health to be able to detect matilda and MR fire from the unique position is whose come back from the absolute brink. I feel as though I I am not an expert in anything other than my own survival, and I can use those techniques that I've learned de perhaps inspire someone find their own techniques. I'm not here, try it. Free anyone or not enough when it first
stevie duck said he. But I I definitely failures I know. I think I know what I'm doing now and it's taken a bit of growth and learning and space and time but This is where I want to be. I have so much to learn from our society and I think they could learn a lot from all the stuff. I know about all the lives of the media, And- and so I just want to work with my community on that- and that's what the pod cost is well known to me, you to channel on a couple of weeks is also going to be around the concept of social justice and social education. things to do with social justice, and you know if I, if I can, He knew tat possessed with entertainment than It has to be roles that I think are actually further and conversations So I'm not I don't wanna be famous. I don't wanna be a sack symbol. I don't want to be glorified five, anything
I find empty. I want to make a different, not because I I care about my legacy cause. I don't give a fuck which we can tell from my twitter being such a mess, and but I definitely care about undoing some of the pain that I was caused when I was young, because of how toxic this industry is and how much I looked up to it and how much I thought all of its real and I want to recycle. Selfishly I'd like to recycle my pain into something good, it's kind of interesting, also seeing you you mentioned. I way, video china coming soon podcast lol as we have this conversation active in a month or so ago. So you are now also. Is it interesting full circle moment right cause your back behind the mai, your back, he actually back in this different modem, but instead of announcing a toilet topic you're now having these very personal conversations with people who either have big, spotlights that you know and and
voices and experiences that they want to share or are in a row where you can share your spotlight. That does her a shine it on the good work of other people, curious what it's been like, freebies or, to a certain extent back in that space in that mode, I'm much more comfortable asking and not speaking, I noticed, but here you are lovely by hating, intervene at supper. I am I much prefer finding out about others, but you know I had somewhat overexposed myself and be attention seeking in order to get to this position of power were now I can pass the mike, and so you know that's what I was doing when I was perverting up a fair amount of attention it was. Because I was very deliberately on the path to where I met. Now, where I no longer have to speak- and I can ask- and so it's been brilliant and I love interviewing- and I think because I'm such an open book it
kind of affords my guest, whoever they are a space to do the same, and that created some unexpectedly, very, very frank conversations reese with this and in a crying at the end of the pope, cost episode on air about, have frustrations about sexism and suddenly, in this industry, and in a dummy, levanter opened up to me about so many of her mental health issues, the same thing with billy porter. His episode is about too soon it's phenomenal childhood a story of pain and suffering and abuse and trauma and what he has turned that into and how he has done that and for him to be so generous as to take me through step by step, guide to wellness and happiness sustainability. I'm just I'm really flowed by how well it's gone so far. I feel very honoured to be a part of these conversations and and also the you know, interviews tend to stitch people up, especially in print media and so these
you know, and even in video and view, sometimes taken out of context and heavily edited in a way that is deeply unflattering and provocative and unfair in order to frame them in a narrative that suits the media to create as much outrageous possible outrageous. What sounds to be sacked sexes, outright cells, we hyperinflated the value of sex by putting it absolutely we were so is no longer something that is considered. Valuable now is outrage. And so I'm brayley proud to have created this space lightly for people who have something important and valuable to say to be allowed to come and say it in context with protection and with my best interests at heart. I'm not looking stitch. Anyone up, I'm just looking to have the most helpful compass. Asian, which I think is something that journalists no longer carry on mass. If you John, there still are interested in the bigger, more interesting and help for compensation. They just have to succumb to walk, gets the most clicks.
And so because of that interviews have lost that their impact. I think in a lot of print media and a lot of people are afraid to do. Picassos aim. control over how the edited- and so I think, because I'm on the same side is them now. People speak to me with. more trust than they used to when I was just a janet s now that I'm also an actor who is also being subject to intense scrutiny and gas lighting. I think it feels like it's a very unique position that a man I have unique access to such extraordinary people, scientists and doctors- is one of actors, artisan and, and so hopefully we continue to in this moment where people most need to talk about their mental health because they they're locked inside with losing loved ones and are under some stress that losing their jobs. They have no idea how they're going to feed their families or, if they're, going to be homeless soon We can provide any semblance of comfort and entertainment and a message of the fact that you are not alone in what the struggling
I mustn't feel ashamed of what you're going through. Then I will have done my job and feels like a good place for us to come full circle as well. So as we sit here in this em cross country container of good life project here and if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes out to live a good life Life is truly just to be happy. I really learned that over the course of my twenties and another devastating, but mental Health is my priority. Now, that is the path to a good life is not money. Fame is not success is not design things. I've I've had all of that. Now I've had everything shiny and it led me to almost taking life, because of how empty and worse, as it really is an soaked of comfort, of course comes of privilege. But generally all if this shit is just a meaningless and if I may sorry to be long winded. But I do think I want to make this point that that's one
I think, we'll come out this pandemic is that people will no longer value the bullshit that we have rallied up until now. We ve been to worship, commercialism and worship, consumerism and expensive hotels and diamonds and pointless lay expensive clothes and have, I don't think one is it going to be able to afford that, but be. I think we have finally recognise that the people that we have celebrated nor society have been all of the wrong heroes. It's been a bunch of useless fuck. Celebrities, who have proven to be so ultimately useless in this moment, apart from maybe three of them, and we are recognising that the heroes were the people that we ignored all along, and so I am only excited for that. One outcome, this global tragedy, I'm hoping that we will restore helpful and intelligent valleys and and recognise what is good
and- and I hope that we will all be able to make out of this moment alive and with respect for our mental health because that's the strongest till you have in this moment- is the only thing you can possibly have control over someone. If you're lucky, So for me, mental health is to live a good life is to be happy and to be cuddled really like spooning,
thank you so much for listening, and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who helped make this possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today, show notes and while you're at it, if you ve ever ask yourself what should I do with my life, we have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work that you're here to do. You can find it add, spark a type dot com. That's s, p, r, K e t why p dot com for just click? wait in the shadows and of course, if you haven't already done so, be sure to click on the subscribe button in your listening app. So you never miss an episode and then share share the love. If there's something that you've heard in this episode, that you would love to turn into a conversation, share it with people and have that conversation
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Transcript generated on 2023-06-24.