- Actress and activist Jameela Jamil came out as queer after social media backlash for being cast as a judge on an upcoming HBO Max LGBTQ+ dance show.
- Jamil said she was scared to come out because she was worried she would be accused of “performance bandwagon jumping.”
- Jamil has faced additional criticism because the show will focus on the ball scene, a type of dance that originated in African American and Latinx communities in New York. Jamil is of South Asian descent.
Jamil Cast in HBO Voguing Show
Following social media backlash for being cast on a show that will explore a popular LGBTQ+ dance subculture, actress Jameela Jamil announced that she is queer.
On Tuesday, Deadline, reported that Jamil was set to be both an MC and a judge on the new show, Legendary.
Legendary, which will launch on the upcoming streaming service HBO Max, will be a reality competition focused on “highlight[ing] modern-day ball culture.” Ball culture is a style of dance that originated among LGBTQ+ circles New York, many of which were also predominantly African American and Latinx.
The ball scene is also known for voguing, a highly stylized form of dance associated with drag queens and LGBTQ+ performers. Voguing was also popularized to mainstream audiences in 1990 when popstar Madonna released the aptly titled track, “Vogue.”
Jamil Faces Accusations of Cultural Appropriation
The news of Jamil’s involvement sparked criticism, with many calling the actress’ casting a form of cultural appropriation because she is of Pakistani and Indian descent. Jamil is also not associated with ball culture, and prior to her coming out, she was assumed to be straight.
“I think Jameela is great, one Twitter user said, “but this show raises eyebrows because this could very well lean into the appropriation of ball culture. I am trying to be open to it until we get more details, but the fact that this is on a major streaming platform is raising some red flags…”
wait so Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Rupaul, Indya Moore, Angelica Ross (literally any drag queen/ lgbt icon) wasn’t available???? pic.twitter.com/r5A6hd7Yga— ms.versace if ya nasty (@DVerscace) February 4, 2020
Also following the announcement, trans actress and ball scene dancer Trace Lysette, who’s appeared in shows and movies like Transparent and Hustlers, criticized the casting while expressing her disappointment for not landing a role on the show.
“Lol.. I interviewed for this gig,” she said. “As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of kind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers”
The terms “houses” and “house mothers” refer to small communities typically found within the LGBTQ+ communities. Houses are formed of an “alternative family” that provides sanctuary and shelter to LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth who have been kicked out of their original homes. The roles of house mothers and fathers are usually taken up by older members of the ball scene who help guide and support their “children.”
Following Lysette’s tweet, Jamil responded by trying to clarify the situation. Notably, she also said that, unlike Deadline’s report, she would not be the MC of the show, only one of several judges. Instead, openly gay voguer Dashaun Wesley head the MC role.
Hey trace. I think you auditioned to be one of the house mothers. I’m just one of the judges. Not a house mother. We weren’t up for the same thing. @deadline are wrong. I’m NOT the MC. The brilliant @DashaunWesley is. I think you’re fucking amazing, in every way. And send you ❤️— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Lysette soon responded back to Jamil, saying she had not applied for a house mother position but a host/producer one instead.
I don’t have audition to be a house mother… I am one. I remember the convo well. It was a convo in regards to be a host/producer. At least that’s what my manager at the time worked out. I never heard back. I send you love too. But I will always speak my truth.— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) February 5, 2020
In a separate post, Jamil then worked to prop up the show’s other judges, which include: Leiomy Maldonado a transgender dancer also known as the “Wonder Woman of Vogue,” stylist Law Roach, and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
I’m a judge, alongside @leiomy @theestallion and @LUXURYLAW with music from icon @TheOnlyMikeQ I know some of us aren’t from ballroom, but we are here to bring our followings, press and new audiences to the show, to support and celebrate the ballroom community. That is all. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1H1J5hXi3K— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
Jamil Comes Out as Queer
In a message titled, “Twitter is brutal,” Jamil continued to explain her relationship with her casting, opening up a lengthy message by coming out as queer.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer,” she said. “I added a rainbow to my name when I felt ready a few years ago, as it’s not easy within the South Asian community to be accepted.”
“But I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid,” she added. “I didn’t come from a family with *anyone* openly out. It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties. This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.”
Jamil goes on to say she is leaving Twitter—which she calls a “hell app”—for a while because she is afraid people will just dismiss her coming out.; however, before she leaves, she directly addresses her casting.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” she said. “But I have the privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show…”
“I’m not the MC,” she continued. “I’m not the main host. I’m just a lead judge due to my 11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, newcomer to ballroom (like much of the audience will be) and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now.”
Response to Jamil’s Coming Out
Unsurprisingly, as Jamil predicted, some remained critical of her casting and others accused of her lying about her identity to skirt criticism.
“Being queer does not make you ballroom,” Lysette said on Twitter. “Being any number of marginalized identities does not make you ballroom. The only thing that makes you ballroom is if you are actually from it. And most of us who are from it, sought it out when we had no one else.”
However, many others online praised the actress for coming out while criticizing the extent to which social media pressures stars to come out before they’re ready.
“And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows,” one Twitter user said. “No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying. Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.”
And this is why I’m ALWAYS so weary of people hating on presumed “straight” people going on LGBT shows.— Celine 🍊 (@minytrash) February 5, 2020
No one should EVER have to come out to avoid hate. This is horrifying.
Is there legitimate criticism of her being on the show? Yes. But this shouldn’t have had to happen.
Additionally, several of Jamil’s castmates have also defended and supported her while addressing the backlash.
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”