Jameela Alia Burton-Jamil (born 25 February 1986) is a British actress, model, presenter and activist. Jamil began her career as an English teacher before becoming a presenter on T4 from 2009 until 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 was the first solo female presenter of the BBC Radio 1 Chart show.
Jamil at London Fashion Week in 2009
Jameela Alia Burton-Jamil
25 February 1986
|Height||5 ft 10 1⁄2 in (1.79 m)|
Following a breast cancer scare in 2016, Jamil moved to America to become a screenwriter. Whilst there, Jamil auditioned for Michael Schur and was cast as Tahani Al-Jamil in the American television series The Good Place. The show has received critical acclaim, being nominated for a Golden Globe and is a commercial success.
Jamil was born in London to an Indian father and Pakistani mother on 25 February 1986. She follows no religion and was not raised to follow one. Jamil was born with congenital hearing loss and labyrinthitis, which she had to have several operations to correct. She states that she has "70% audibility in [her] left ear and 50% in [her] right ear" as of 2015[update]. At school, Jamil says she was "bookish and shy". Her interests include art and biology. As a teenager, she suffered from anorexia nervosa, not eating a full meal between the ages of 14 and 17. She has stated that she believes her eating disorder developed due to societal pressure, explaining:
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 fleeing a bee, breaking several bones and damaging her spine. She was told that she might never walk again, but after steroid treatment and physiotherapy she slowly recovered, using a Zimmer frame to start walking. She cites the car accident as what pushed her towards recovery in that it "changed [her] relationship with [her] body" and "literally knocked some sense into [her]". Jamil taught English to foreign students at the Callan School of English, Oxford Street, London; she also worked as a model, photographer, and as a fashion scout for Premier Model Management Limited.
She 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 Chung 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 Playing It Straight a reality show in which one woman spent time with a group of men in an attempt to discern which of them were gay and which of them were 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.
Transition into actingEdit
In 2016, at the age of 29 and following a breast cancer scare, Jamil left London and moved to Los Angeles with no plans of acting, but instead intending to DJ and work presenting radio shows. Jamil was contacted by her agent and told 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 audition, she was later recalled for a second interview and was called to confirm she had landed 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. The show received rave reviews from critics, gaining a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, praising the acting and philosophical tones. And in 2018 was nominated for the Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards. Commercially, the show became a hit, averaging 10 million weekly viewers when accounting streaming platforms, and became one of NBC's highest rated shows.
She made her first American magazine cover on the February 2018 edition of The Cut. Jamil 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".
Late in 2015, Jamil launched Why Not People?, an events and membership company dedicated to hosting live entertainment events accessible to disabled people. In March 2018, Jamil launched an Instagram account called I Weigh, inspired by a photo that she came across online of Kourtney, Khloé and Kim 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 vocal critic of diet shakes and eating suppressant products. Jamil explained that as a teenager she starved herself, took laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain a low weight. Jamil has criticised rapper Cardi B, Khloe Kardashian 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 signees and called upon social media channels Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to ban the practice, noting its dangerous rhetoric on young impressionable teenagers.
In the last few years we have seen a scary rise in the marriage of celebrity and diet/detox endorsement. 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 petition
Jamil appeared on C4 "Orange Rockcorps 2009", volunteering for four hours 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, for a Childline charity auction. 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 so vowed to wear the costume for 16 consecutive days.
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."
|2009–2012||Freshly Squeezed||Herself||Lead host|
|2012||Playing It Straight||Herself||Host|
|2016–present||The Good Place||Tahani Al-Jamil||Main cast|
|2018||Last Call with Carson Daly||Herself||Host, recurring segment, Wide Awake with Jameela Jamil|
|2018||Hollywood Game Night||Herself||Episode: "Ho Ho Holiday Game Night"|
|2019||Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate||Herself|
|2019||DuckTales||Gandra Dee||Episode: "The Dangerous Chemistry of Gandra Dee!"|
|2020||Mira, Royal Detective||Auntie Pushpa||Recurring role|
|2013–2015||The Official Chart||Host||BBC Radio 1|
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