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although the right place brought her American fame, Jameela Jamil has also made a name for herself through her advocacy of topics such as body image, mental health and disability. She is currently promoting a new six-part podcast series from P&G Studios, Same too, which she hopes will challenge the perception of people with disabilities to create a more inclusive world. Jamil also hosts the podcast,, which actually started as a social media post and grew into a mental health movement.
on I WEIGH, Jamil, 35, challenges societal norms through conversations with opinion leaders, entertainers, influencers and friends about their own experiences and stories with their mental health. Over the past year, her guests have ranged from Reese Witherspoon to Deepak Chopra to Gloria Steinem, as well as doctors and experts in various fields.
Yahoo Life spoke to the actor and activist from her Los Angeles home (which she shares with musician James Blake), as she cuddled up with her dog and talked about how she prioritizes mental health and why representation is so important.
You have hosted MANY big names on you I weigh podcasting. Who is your dream podcast guest?
Oh God! I really really want to interview Will Smith! He has the most fascinating life and perspective and he is this ubiquitous figure in all of our lives, around the world. I wonder how that was [when he was] so young; [now] he is a great wise treasure.
Agree. Which makes me think Jada would also be a fascinating guest…
I’m obsessed with Jada! I have to move on Red Table Talk and felt like I was peaking! After that I was ready to retire [laughs].There’s nothing flattering about it — even being invited to the Golden Globes didn’t feel that exciting. Nothing was more exciting than with Jada . to talk [laughs]…
They were so hysterical: a powerful group of women, all so open about their vulnerabilities and loving and supportive. They are really out to share their journey so others can learn their lessons. Will was there too – I got a selfie with Will – but I was so blown away by the three multigenerational women [Jada, Willow and Gammy]. How dare they be so awesome and gorgeous?! Ridiculous! I would risk everything to be adopted by that family! Will Smith is my father [laughs].
What does representation look like to you?
I grew up as a young South Asian boy and was very ill; I felt invisible because there was no representation. I could never be the hero of my own story. People with disabilities are always shown as the tragedy of creating a storyline for the non-disabled hero. You are never a protagonist with dignity – you are almost too painful to watch, an inconvenience, often portrayed as bitter, often played by a non-disabled actor. We have not allowed the disabled community to be portrayed as the ordinary life they lead! It is time for us to show them in the light that is faithful to them, and let them write their own stories and let their own guidance go out into the world.
We can’t keep erasing such a huge chunk of the population, and we’re abstaining from extraordinary people with extraordinary perspectives. The people I’ve learned the most from (and I don’t abhor them!) are my friends with disabilities because they come into the world from unimaginable angles. There is so much we can learn from the people who kept their cool last year: the disabled who have lived this way for years.
The conversation about disability has been made so uncomfortable; honestly people don’t know where to start. This podcast is a funny and welcoming starting point for people who are ready to start this conversation and show themselves as allies. Another thing I like about this podcast is that 60 percent of the people who make it identify as disabled. Media has a huge influence on culture and we need more people behind the camera, in front of the camera, in politics and business – we won’t see a change until we see people who are not uncomfortable with this conversation.
What is your daily approach to mental health?
I prioritize it above everything else and am completely unapologetic about it. Nothing is more important to me than my mental health; no one is worth more of my time and energy, no one is valued above my own peace. It is unashamedly my life purpose and my ultimate definition of my personal success to be happy.
What brings you joy?
Blueberry muffins and morning coffee with my friend and my dog. That gives me joy – if my phone is still off and for 20 minutes, you can just enjoy love and laughter and YouTube and hugs. That’s the most peace I could ever ask for. I’m very protective of that morning time and sacrifice it for nothing. James [Blake] is obscenely sweet and makes time for me in the morning, even though I work late at night in the studio. I rarely mention him, but that’s my happy place. That – or go to Target [laughs].
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The advice I give myself, if I may be so bold, is: Anything you think is too awful to say to someone you love and respect, don’t say to yourself. Many of the worst things that are said to us are said by ourselves. I think we have a duty to protect ourselves from our own inner bully. If you wouldn’t tolerate someone saying this to your best friend or a person you love, don’t say it to yourself.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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