Privilege, as far as Jameela Jamil is concerned, shouldn’t be considered a “rude” word.
The former “Good Place” star, who is known for her social media activism, rejects the notion that the term is always reflective of “wealth or power or fame,” and said instead: “Privilege can also sometimes just be the absence of discrimination.”
To that end, she continued, anyone lucky enough to have privilege -- often thought of as a leg up -- has an obligation to act accordingly.
“It’s a good thing to check your privilege and register how lucky you are every single day,” Jamil said, “and then try and use a little bit of that, even if it’s just micro-activism, to change at least the world around you if you can’t change the entire world.”
Jamil, 34, has never shied away from tough topics, and told “GMA” her activism is inspired by fellow actress Angelina Jolie. That's because Jolie, who works as a Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has been able to use her fame to “raise awareness about huge topics like sex trafficking or war -- things that were happening in third world countries.”
“She was able to bring more attention to what was happening in Pakistan than anyone in Pakistan was because we weren’t being listened to,” Jamil, who is of Pakistani and Indian heritage, continued.
“And yet a powerful actor comes and says it and it’s like the world and the media have heard it for the first time,” the I Weigh activist explained. “I think I clocked, as a teenager, that that was how to get things done is you can make more change from the inside. Sadly, we don't listen to underprivileged people. We listen to the privileged and, while that system sucks, I have to utilize it while I can.”
A work in progress
Throughout her decade or so on Twitter, Jamil said one thing she has learned to “think and then tweet.” In addition to raising awareness about suicide prevention, body positivity and unrealistic beauty standards in Hollywood, she has faced her fair share of controversies.
On top of that, she follows the always-helpful advice of not reading the comments and tries to not engage with her trolls -- at least not too often. “Occasionally I like a little clapback, but generally don’t give them air,” Jamil advised.
As for how people can keep their mental health in check while taking part in social media, Jamil recommends making sure you’re surrounded by real friends and family.
“I think the whole virtual family idea is great in some instances, but also sometimes can be super damaging to young people -- and to all people,” the upcoming “Marry Me” star explained. “I think It’s very important to have in-person communication with people who care about you and love you and I think having your chosen family or your real family around is pivotal.”
Anyone who looks at her profiles will see the term “feminist-in-progress” proudly written in her bio. This, Jamil revealed, is meant to show people that she is “not standing on a soapbox preaching at anyone.”
“I'm just trying to raise awareness and learn at the same time,” she declared. “I'm always going to be in progress. I will never have all of the updated information. I'm not a bloody computer. And there's so much more for me to learn -- and I'm excited to learn.”
"I'm going to make mistakes. I'm a flawed, fallible human being who is learning. I think, if anything, to me, that feels more accessible and inspiring to know that someone can go from being problematic like I was -- and maybe even still will continue to be sometimes by mistake -- and you can ... use your privilege to help other people, which is what I'm now doing. So if I can do it, you can do it.”
Jamil can soon be seen on Disney Junior’s new animated show “Mira, Royal Detective,” an all-Indian cartoon already been renewed for a second season ahead of the series’ premiere.
“I just didn't see myself represented when I was growing up, so therefore I thought there was something wrong with me,” Jamil, who lends her voice to Auntie Pushpa on the show, recalled. “I thought that because I wasn't white and blonde and had a one-inch waist that I wasn't worthy of being represented.”
“I love the fact that we're representing different people from different cultures around the world,” she gushed, praising the showcase of Indian music, dance and the nation’s colorful nature. “It's just so important that other people see. I think the things that you tend to hear about my part of the world is often either about poverty or about, you know, things to do with war. So it's nice to show the different side of us that is really beautiful and just exotic and interesting, and fabulous while being represented.”
“Mira, Royal Detective” will premiere in the United States on March 20 and in India on March 22 before rolling out to other countries around the world.
Disney is the parent company of ABC News and "Good Morning America."
How Angelina Jolie inspired Jameela Jamil’s activism originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com