“I don’t think I’ve ever done a refined thing in my life,” says Jameela Jamil. This is cool but also tricky, because she’s an ambassador for H&M Studio’s Refined Rebel collection, which is out now and jammed—much like Jameela—with bright and bold ideas. “Can I respectfully pass on being refined?” She laughs.
Sure, but thankfully, she didn’t pass up the rest of these questions, because dinosaurs, Kardashians, and video stores are always fun to talk about. Let’s do this!
Please tell us the exact whereabouts of your famous puppy right now.
He is sleeping on my lap as we speak. He’s an actual chicken nugget. I just love him so much.
H&M’s newest collection is called Refined Rebel. Will you tell us the last rebellious thing you did?
I’d say every day of my life is rebellious. Everything I say on the internet is rebellious, and I think just consistently standing against the lack of transparency in this industry is one of my favorite forms of rebellion. And being prepared to be unlikeable, brutally honest, and make mistakes but not disappear after them—to acknowledge them, face them, and come back. These are my moments of rebellion, because a woman is not supposed to make a mistake. A woman is not supposed to tell the truth. A woman is not supposed to ever risk being disapproved of. And I think the way I lean into those things is my form of daily rebellion.
What’s the first thing you ever bought at H&M?
It was a suit jacket, actually! I’d never owned a blazer before, and I couldn’t afford one anywhere else. I was 14, and I had a job interview for a video store in London. I know, a video store. So I put the blazer over my school uniform to look like a “serious business woman”—and I got the job, so it worked!
The red carpet is a bit different now. How are you styling yourself for events in 2020?
I think about looking like my-selves—plural. We have so many different facets to ourselves. All the different characters that live within me come out, day-to-day, in my clothes, so fashion really becomes about, “Who do you feel like being today?” Normally when I’m wearing a suit, I’m wearing it as armor. I often wear a baggy suit, and I’m deliberately wearing it to be released from my gender, and from anyone speculating at my body shape. It’s asexual and focused. I just want to look like a very chic brain, you know? I don’t need people looking at my body all the time, but I do want them to say, “She looks cool,” and I want to feel cool. But I’ll also wear a tight dress and allow my body a moment. Just a moment!
You were a journalist before you were on The Good Place. Do you have questions you wish journalists would stop asking?
Uh, please share.
No more questions about backlash! Everyone always asks me about it, because that’s what the tabloids report, I’ll tweet something, and then they’ll pull the three negative tweets, as opposed to the thousands of comments of support. It’s like, come on! And they do that on purpose to make people think being an outspoken woman is a terrible and painful way of life. And it’s not! It’s fucking brilliant! It’s rebellious and they don’t like it, so they make it look all bad. But it’s fantastic. So I’d ask, “Can we stop focusing on this fake online backlash? It’s not real; it’s fabricated.” My narrative, according to them, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Do you write drafts of your tweets before sending? Do you ever think about writing something, then say, “Nevermind?”
No, but I really should, huh? I tweet everything I think, much to my publicist’s dismay. I’m just not very good at filtering myself. Sometimes that goes really well; sometimes that goes less well. But generally, I think I’m a very fallible, relatable figure. I trip, I fall, I get back up, I dust myself off, and I move on.
Why is that important for young women to see?
Because we see men doing terrible things—violence, scams, whatever—then they come back and do some huge piece in GQ being like, “I was addicted to things. I was drinking too much. I had a difficult childhood.” And everyone’s like, “Oh, what a king! A hero! Come back! Here’s your throne!” And I’ll make much less of a mistake, and it’s like, “Go down to the cellar, witch! Stay there!” It’s really important for girls to see that you get back up. At the ELLE Women in Hollywood event last year, Natalie Portman said, “Fuck up and thrive sisters!” And I loved that so much. It was a real moment for me.
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You’re part of the new series Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous. Are you a fan of the series?
Of course! I wish I could go!
Do you think you would survive Jurassic Park?
A hundred percent! Dinosaurs are my people. I’m a T-Rex in real life! I would totally survive a trip to Jurassic Park. But I would never use the toilet because of that scene in the first movie, which scared me so badly as a kid! But yeah, I feel as though I’d have an easier time fitting in with the dinosaurs than I do in the real world, to be honest with you.
Plus, all the dinosaurs are female, and women are almost always the ones who save the rest of the island.
Exactly, I love that! It’s a feminist island, right? Let’s go.
I’m going to ask you a question that you might hate, which I hope is cool…
Is it about backlash? I’m kidding.
No! And it’s also not about how you’re moving in with your BFFs, Megan and Harry.
Oh, my best friend Meghan Markle?! My quarantine buddy, who I can’t live without! She is not my BFF, sadly, I am sorry to tell you. But I can’t stop laughing about that weird story!
Actually, it’s about the Kardashians. You have famously criticized their social media posts for glorifying thinness, among other things. Would you ever talk to them or work with them face-to-face? Or would you be against something like that?
No, not at all! Look, I don’t believe in canceling people who have the potential to do immense good. That’s incredibly stupid. Harvey Weinstein—cancel him. Cancel people who are a danger to society. The Kardashians, it would be madness not to call them in to help fix the thing they’ve been part of perpetuating. But seeing what Kim has done with prison reform?! That’s a sign of what happens when they utilize their power for good. These are powerful women, and I think they’ve already started changing. Have you noticed they don’t sell diet detox teas anymore! Have you noticed how much that’s reduced since I’ve started going off? Even if they don’t know who the fuck I am, someone over there is hearing me. There are no more shakes and lollipops. Progress is happening.
If Camp Cretaceous was a real place, would you invite them?
Well, the diet detox lollipops are not invited to Jurassic Park, or anywhere. They should be banned. I mean, there are already mounds of shit in Jurassic Park; didn’t you see Laura Dern up to her arms in it? Nobody needs laxatives there. But the Kardashian women? They’re brilliant. They’re warriors. Of course they’re invited—they would thrive!
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