Meet Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil for Passerbuys by Maggie Shannon67.jpg
After being a familiar personality in the UK, Jameela Jamil broke into the scene in the US by playing Tahani al-Jamil on NBC’s “The Good Place.” Living in Los Angeles has always been a dream, and after never having acted before, she gets to learn every day from the best on set. She has now been taking advantage of her platform sharing positivity in the entertainment industry and empowering women all over the world.
Dress: Daisy, Shoes:    Maryam Nassir Zadeh
Jameela Jamil for Passerbuys by Maggie Shannon2.jpg
Dress: Reformation, Coat: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Moschino, Shoes: ASOS

Dress: Reformation, Coat: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Moschino, Shoes: ASOS

on her morning routine

My morning routine is a cuddle, coffee, and ten minutes of hair and makeup. If I can avoid bathing, I will. I'm not proud of this. I start the day with Udo's Choice - Super 8 Probiotic Capsules and Coconut Bliss ice cream with berries and Alfred Coffee. I think it's truly the only breakfast you can get me out of bed for. 

on how she got her start in entertainment

I was an English teacher who heard about an open audition for a job in television. I sent a three minute comedy tape of myself. I swear every other host in the country must have been sick that day because I got the damn job. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. I kept my teaching job for eight months into hosting this huge show on the weekends because I was sure they had made a mistake and would fire me. This was, of course, super weird for my students. Finally, I became a full-time host, and after a few years started writing a column for Cosmo and DJing. After a while, BBC Radio 1 noticed me and offered a chance to try out for their radio station. I told a disgusting story at that audition, and they gave me a show. I've never been so scared at a job. It was hard and technical, and I'm so in awe of those who make it look easy. It was a wild experience and I think any radio you can do makes you a better performer because once you can do that, you can do anything.

advice on how to break into the industry

It's a good time for women. There is an energy shift occurring and people are realizing that we are valuable and strong. I would say it's brilliant if you take initiative and create your own content or take part in driving your own projects forward. Know your boundaries and fight for them to be upheld from the start. Never be rude but always be firm. Believe and respect yourself, and stand up as you would for anyone you love being taken advantage. People always try to manipulate us into submission and we don't have time to wait for people to do what's right, we have to go after what we want and make sure needs are met.

Jameela Jamil for Passerbuys by Maggie Shannon1.jpg
As a writer, Caitlin Moran has been really supportive of my work. I can’t believe she even reads anything I write, nevermind circulates it on her social media. She’s so excellent and a strong and authentic feminist. She’s inspired me to constantly pay attention to young women on the rise. I’m all about growing the sisterhood. This shitty idea that there isn’t space for more than one of us at a time makes me sick, and is a dangerous lie. There is strength in numbers. We are building more of a community now and realizing how much we have all been through to survive our bloody teens, I think it is growing our love for each other. My support system is my lovely boyfriend. He’s a feminist, gentleman, and reminder in this crazy business that nothing matters more than what we have in our house. 
— on finding her support system
Top: Vintage via American Rag, Pants: Vintage via Shop Worship, Belt: Vintage via Silverlake Flea, Boots: Topshop, Earrings: Vintage via Jewelry Arcade in Mexico

on acting and her process

I didn't take any classes, but I do get to act opposite Ted Danson and a bunch of brilliant actors. I have no shame in learning and stealing from them! I play a very annoying woman, so I imagine all the most annoying people I know and how they would [read my lines] and pull from that.

on tools that help her work

A vibrator! Any vibrator. Also, Tiny Calendar is helpful. It has a great layout.

on her decision to move to california

After two years of working at BBC, I decided that I wanted to live in California before I was 30. I was obsessed with movies. I always wanted to be in the sun where so many of my favorite movies were made. I quit my job, left my relationship, packed a bag, and left with no visa and a one-way ticket. 

Admittedly, what I did was insane. I broke my back at 17, and I've never been good at looking ahead or being sensible. My career in England afforded me a chance to meet with good agents in the US who asked me to try acting because Mike Schur was looking for someone to play an overly tall Pakistani women with an English accent. I'm taller than most men I've ever met, and I am indeed a British Pakistani woman, so I went along certain I would never get anywhere. Mike Schur is insane and gave me the job. Now I sweat every day trying to keep up with Ted Danson and Kristen Bell's insane acting chops on The Good Place

Moving to LA was the best thing I've ever done. It's a beautiful place. The people are friendly, and it's an amazing time for women and people of colour. It feels like so much is possible here and people are generous with their time and support. Also the taco trucks. Fuck. How can I leave? 

on what she misses back home
I miss my best friends. I miss Zayna, my favorite Indian restaurant in Marylebone. I miss The Electric Cinema in Notting Hill. I miss Duck and Waffle, a 24-hour dessert spot with a 360-degree view of London. I miss Brown's, the best place to find the most avant grade, up and-coming designers from all around the world.

Dress: Reformation

Dress: Reformation

Dress, Reformation ;    Shoes, Charlotte Olympia

Dress, Reformation ; Shoes, Charlotte Olympia

I am aware I have had a lot of lucky “right place, right time” moments. I’m very grateful for it, and I work hard to keep the job. I think the only advice is to not make strict plans in your life and to never be defined by anything other than yourself. No job should be important enough to you for you to pin your happiness on it. I think these things set you up for disappointment and induce anxiety. This makes everything harder and makes you underperform in a room you are supposed to be having fun.
— on how your job shouldn't be everything
Coat: Opening Ceremony

Coat: Opening Ceremony

on where she gets her inspiration

I love comedians. I mostly read their autobiographies to gain insight into what built them and how they arrived at the ridiculous lives they live. Judd Apatow's Sick in the Head, is an amazing read full of legendary interviews with fascinating people. Tina Fey's Bossypants is a must. Megan Amram's Twitter is exceptional. Her book Science...For Her! is one of the most brilliant reads. I love Scarlett Curtis' instagram. It's very human, funny, and inspiring. Maimouna Youssef is my favorite rapper at the moment. I like her style so so much.  

on her beauty routine

I don't smoke or drink. I don't even know why. I just never felt like it. I think this helps keep my routine to a minimum. I don't like to wear foundation unless I'm filming. I religiously take my makeup off at night with Simple Makeup Remover Wipes. I use Thayers Natural Remedies Thayers Witch Hazel on my skin first and last, which I believe really helped my acne, as did cutting out dairy, which has broken my heart and life will never be the same again. If I have PMS, I do a little face mask made up of charcoal and honey from Kreation just to give me a fighting chance when I have to be on HDTV. I fucking hate HD. What a piece of shit. I also use Bobbi Brown Concealer Stick, Nude 18 Lipstick, Benefit-Hoola Bronzer, Nars Gina BlushCruella Lipstick CrayonMaybelline-Colossal Big Shot Mascara and Liquid Eyeliner Pen, Mac Amber Lights eyeshadow and Giorgio Armani highlighter. I don't have a hair care routine or blowdry my hair. I cut it myself and leave it alone. I also eat Omega 3-6-9 tablets every day that keeps that shit in check.

on her nightly routine

Netflix and Postmates. I'm a homebody. I'm watching House at the moment. I love a procedural show, and Hugh Laurie is not just a babe. He's the babe. 

on self-care and her rituals

I did EMDR for a few months. It's a therapy for PTSD and anxiety that helped me. I am not a naturally confident person. I had a rough first twenty years that left a few creases on me that I'm still trying to iron out. I also find cleaning to rap music very cathartic. It's my form of meditation. Hoovering to Party Up is a mood.

Coat, Opening Ceremony ; Shoes, Gianvito Rossi

Coat, Opening Ceremony ; Shoes, Gianvito Rossi

jameela's favorite shops

I shop at Opening Ceremony a lot which is where my ridiculous purple faux fur coat and absurd Moschino giant glove handbag is from. I also love Urban Outfitters online. I like that they support little brands worldwide. I'm a big fan of Reformation and I'm making an effort to be as ethical as I can when shopping. I buy my shoes from ASOS, and the vintage on Melrose is great for accessories. 

jameela's favorite books

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom, Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow, Science...for Her! by Megan Amram, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney, Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey by Richard Ayoade

Jameela's favorite records

Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Revolver by The Beatles, Aromanticism by Moses Sumney, Songs of Leonard Cohen

Jameela's favorite movies

Good Will Hunting, Away We Go, The Truman Show, Submarine

Jameela's favorite places in los angeles

Best brunch: Gracias Madre. It's vegan, but it's BANGING. 
Alfred's Coffee is embarrassingly cliche, but truly ideal. 
The Arclight Cinema is the only one I now consider going to. 
World on Wheels is a great, old fashioned roller skating spot. 
The Broad downtown is my favorite art gallery in the world. It has the most incredibly lay out and collections. 
Mohawk is an amazing clothing store in Silverlake. 
After Mohawk, head to Sqirl Cafe nearby, for the rice bowls and pancakes of your goddamn dreams. 
School Night at Bardot puts on good new bands. 
Low End Theory do great nights all over LA.
Gangadin: The only good Indian food in LA. 


Dress: Reformation, Coat: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Moschino, Shoes: ASOS

Dress: Reformation, Coat: Urban Outfitters, Bag: Moschino, Shoes: ASOS

─ Photography by Maggie Shannon