Jameela Jamil just came out as queer after receiving major backlash over her role in HBO Max’s new voguing competition “Legendary.”
“Legendary” will be based in ballroom culture, a historically Black and Latinx LGBTQ subculture with which Jamil has no experience. The “Good Place” actress will serve as a lead judge on the show alongside fellow judges Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach, and Leiomy Maldonado. Dashaun Wesley will MC.
Many queer people criticized Jamil and HBO for the casting decision, accusing them of taking opportunities away from queer and trans people of color who have years of experience in the ballroom scene.
In response to the backlash, Jamil released a statement identifying herself as queer and explaining her reluctance to come out earlier.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer,” Jamil wrote on Twitter. “I added a rainbow to my [Twitter username] 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. 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: “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 also explained why she took the “Legendary” role despite her lack of ties to ballroom culture.
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” she explained. “But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show, (as does 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 marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
The star has received mixed reactions, both critical and supportive, to her statement.
“Legendary” is being made by the same producers of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.” It will be on HBO’s new streaming platform HBO Max, and shooting starts this week.