As soon as it was announced by HBO Max that British actress Jameela Jamil would judge a reality show about ballroom culture, social media exploded with criticism over the choice.
But now, after facing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community over the casting, Jamil has come out as queer in a Twitter post.
The upcoming HBO Max ballroom scene show, Legendary, is a “9-episode unscripted voguing competition series,” according to a press release from HBO Max. But the underground subculture of ballroom originated in the 1920’s in New York City, as trans women and gay POC created support systems and safe spaces for one another.
Among the critics was Transparent and Pose actress Trace Lysette, who didn’t understand the decision made to hire someone who was not part of the culture.
“I interviewed for this gig,” Lysette wrote on Twitter. “As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of [mind] 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,” she continued.
In response, Jamil has decided to open up about her sexuality, and says that she hopes to use her platform to elevate the voices of marginalized communities.
Though she “added a rainbow” to her name on Twitter when she felt ready, Jamil “never officially came out as queer.” But now, she’s ready to officially set the record straight.
“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,” The Good Place actress wrote in a tweet. “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.”
“This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out,” she also wrote.
Jamil acknowledges that being queer doesn’t qualify her as ballroom, but she is hoping that her privilege, power, and “large following” will help the show “get off the ground so we can elevate marginalized stars that deserve the limelight and give them a chance.”
Legendary will feature real voguing houses, and will follow divas of each house as they compete in fashion contests and choreographed dances. Voguing legend Leiomy Maldonado, rapper Megan Thee Stallion, and stylist Law Roach will also join Jamil as judges on the show.