The Transformation Of Jameela Jamil From Childhood To The Good Place

In 2020, The Good Place wrapped up a legendary run consisting of just four seasons that tell a complete story of a group of friends who learn how to be better people after they've already died. They may not be perfect individuals by the end, but that's not the point. The imperfections are still there, but they're at least aware of how their actions impact others and how they shouldn't allow other people's perceptions of them to influence negative behavior. Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is still a little rough around the edges, Chidi (William Jackson Harper) still overthinks the simplest decisions, and Tahani (Jameela Jamil) can't help but name drop celebrities she knew in the previous life from time to time. 

With a posh accent and aversion to anything even upper-middle class, Jamil perfectly embodied the character with exceptional comedic timing on lines like, "I just want to sit, stare at nothing, and silently scream for the rest of time." She more than holds her own against comedic heavyweights who make up the rest of the cast, and it's hard to believe The Good Place was her first scripted role ever. Reading her story, her journey from childhood to today is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Jameela Jamil had a litany of health problems growing up

In the years since garnering fame, Jameela Jamil has been outspoken about the range of health problems she suffered earlier in life in the hopes of making people more aware of taking care of their own minds and bodies. In an interview with The Mirror, she discussed how these issues manifested from the moment she was born: "I was born partially deaf and suffered from labyrinthitis, which affected my balance. I had numerous ear infections and spent my childhood in and out of [the] hospital having operations."

She goes on to talk about how she suffered from food allergies, which would cause significant reactions that put her overall health in jeopardy. All of this was further compounded when she was struck by a moving vehicle when she was 17, which forced her to remain primarily confined to a bed for two years. Then in her early 20s, she discovered a shocking revelation: "A blood test revealed I had very high levels of mercury in my system. A second dentist discovered that the mercury had been leaking from my fillings, so I'd basically been poisoned for a decade... My digestive system was so damaged that I became allergic to almost everything, including fruit and vegetables."

Throughout this turmoil, Jamil says she had to remain optimistic and was able to turn her health around by changing what she ate and being more cognizant of what she does to her body. Her life was finally starting to turn around, and a chance encounter would change everything.

From teaching to presenting...

Jameela Jamil didn't always plan to have a career in entertainment, but fate had other things in store. In fact, prior to any roles, she worked as an English teacher in the United Kingdom, and in an interview with NPR, she goes into detail about the bizarre series of events that would lead to her one day getting on The Good Place: "I was an English teacher who was discovered in a pub by a producer who thought that I would be good on television. And they called me in for an audition, and one week after that, I was put live on national television on the biggest youth entertainment show in the history of the U.K. by myself, having never done any kind of media training."

She received numerous hosting roles over the years on British television with her earlier credits including Freshly Squeezed, T4, Celebrity Juice, and The Great Comic Relief Bake Off. However, it initially appeared her time on television would end nearly as abruptly as it began as she goes on to explain, "In 2012, I wanted to get away from being on screen because I felt like people had developed an obsession with my appearance, so I went into radio." It appears as though she couldn't stay away from the cameras as a few short years later, she would move to Los Angeles and land the gig of a lifetime. 

Jameela Jamil's first scripted TV audition ever was for The Good Place

After some time as a host on both the television and radio sides of entertainment, Jameela Jamil did what millions of others have done in the past — move to Los Angeles in hopes of making it big. Even before she moved across the pond, it wasn't an easy transition as she discussed to BBC News: "Everyone said I was being mad, throwing away an eight-year career, and that I was too old — I was only 29 — too ethnic, and too fat to come over to Los Angeles."

It didn't take long at all for her to prove all those people wrong as her very first audition in Hollywood was for The Good Place. She may have had experience in front of the camera, but reading lines and getting the jokes down right is a different thing entirely. As such, Jamil had to get a bit creative to land the gig: "I lied in my audition. I said I'd mostly done theatre because it's harder to track down. Technically it's not a lie because when I was six I played Oliver's mother in my school play. I was creative with the truth." Plenty of actors have lied to get parts, and whatever she did, it must've worked on the producers as she was soon acting alongside greats like Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. 

Jamil has stayed busy since the series finale of The Good Place with voiceover roles in cartoons like DuckTales and Harley Quinn. She's also returned to her hosting roots by leading the comedic game show, The Misery Index. Jamil has had to go through more trials and tribulations than most, but the future is exceptionally bright for the star.