There has been plenty of discussion around the “Legendary” line-up.
The timing of Jameela Jamil’s coming out seems to have raised a few eyebrows — including a perfectly manicured pair belonging to Miss J Alexander.
“The Good Place” star faced backlash online after being cast as a judge in HBO’s upcoming ballroom voguing competition series “Legendary” — a role that some believed should not have been filled by someone outside of the LGBTQ+ community and, more specifically, the ballroom community.
Many on social media questioned Jamil’s place considering ball culture’s Black/LGBTQ roots — especially since she is a champion of the underrepresented — prompting the actress to reveal on Twitter that she herself identified as queer.
“She came out what?” a skeptical Miss J asked when he heard the news, before walking away in mock disbelief. “Why can’t we just be gay and be done?”
He then addressed her directly: “Girl, Miss J said: Cut it out. Be you, do you, and then I’ll love you even more.”
In a Twitter post entitled “Twitter is brutal” Jameela, who is set to judge alongside “Pose” star Dashaun Wesley as well as Megan Thee Stallion, came out while also explaining why she didn’t sooner.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer. 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, and I always answered honestly if ever straight up asked about it on Twitter,” she wrote.
— Jameela Jamil ? (@jameelajamil) February 5, 2020
“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. 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 to come out.”
“I know that being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom. But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring this show (as does the absolutely iconic Megan Thee Stallion) and it’s beautiful contestants and ballroom hosts.
“Sometimes it takes those with more power to help a show get off the ground so we can elevate marginalised stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
She added: ‘I’m just a lead judge to my 11 years of hosting experience, being fully impartial, a newcomer to ballroom (like much of the audience will be) and therefore a window in for people who are just discovering it now, and being a long time ally of the lgbtq community.”
She continued: “It’s f–king hard to be asked to continually be patient after so long of waiting for what you want. I know that. South Asian stories are almost never told without white stars.”
“But I hope you don’t let a few castings designed to help get the show off the ground, stop you from supporting the talent from Ballroom on this show. They really are f–king amazing and I’m really honored to work with them.”
Lol.. I interviewed for this gig. 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 https://t.co/kJleDihn02
— Trace Lysette (@tracelysette) February 4, 2020
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
Another questioning the casting — although clearly stating she was not shading Jameela — was “Transparent” star Trace Lysette, who is heavily involved in the ballroom scene, and who claimed she even “interviewed for this gig” — unsuccessfully.
“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,” she wrote. “This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers.”
In a reply, Jameela disputed an earlier report that said she was MCing, insisting she was just a judge, before claiming Trace had auditioned for a different role of house mother (senior members of intentional communities within the scene); but Trace doubled down and insisted they were up for the same role.
Yesterday, @hbomax was excited to announce Dashaun and Jameela’s involvement in the series LEGENDARY. For clarity, Dashaun is the series’ MC/Commentator, and Jameela heads up the panel of judges alongside Leiomy, Law, and Megan.
— HBO Max PR (@HBOMaxPR) February 5, 2020