Jameela Jamil is proving why sometimes it takes an outsider with no skin in the game to call out Hollywood hypocrisy and the cozy mates system that protects male abusers.
Jamil, an English actress of Indo-Pakistani background called out director Quentin Tarantino on Twitter over the weekend for casting actor Emile Hirsch in his upcoming film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood as a case of "rich white male privilege".
It comes as bad male behaviour is increasingly being called out in Hollywood. Last month, the cast of Arrested Development came under fire for failing to support actress Jessica Walter after she spoke out about being verbally abused by co-star Jeffrey Tambor on set, in a cast interview with The New York Times.
Jamil is a relative newcomer to the entertainment industry with her turn in the Netflix series The Good Place. She has made a name for herself by fearlessly speaking out against powerful celebrity, and in favour of diversity and positive body image, as part of new tide of women in entertainment emboldened to speak out against sexism in the industry in light of #MeToo and #TimesUp.
The actress criticised Tarantino on Twitter for hiring the same actor that attacked and strangled her friend Danielle Bernfeld until she blacked out at the Sundance Film Festival.
Hirsh, who pleaded guilty, was convicted of the assault in 2015 after attacking Bernfeld at the festival and reportedly strangling the executive, dragging her across a table and slamming her body to the floor.
Jamil claims Bernfeld suffered from post-traumatic stress for years after the attack and that Hirsch had never paid for Bernfeld's treatment and still hadn’t apologised to her.
"Emile Hirsch has not apologised for this heinous crime but is (joining) Hollywood’s elite," Jamil wrote. "Slow clap to everyone involved in this movie. So many other actors who haven’t attacked women to choose from."
"Today has been a slightly intense day. I am extremely moved by the support for my friend. I hope Emile does right by her. I hope if he does not, the cast moves away from him. By celebrating men who hurt women, we tell men and women, it is ok to hurt women. Time’s up on this sh**," Jamil added.
The hire is not a good look for Tarantino. The director attracted controversy after a New York Times story revealed he had forced a reluctant Uma Thurman to drive an unsafe car during the filming of Kill Bill, causing her to suffer serious injuries when the car crashed.
“The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me...I felt this searing pain and thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to walk again',” said Thurman.
Tarantino also reportedly personally spat on Thurman during filming to give the scene "authenticity".
As the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements spotlight misogyny and power within Hollywood, the blind eye that allows the chummy boys club to protect male performers with a track record of hurting and harming women will not go unnoticed.
The reason Jamil can speak these truths is because she feels she has nothing to lose.
Where does Jamil get the confidence to call out bad behaviour when others would play nice? As a woman of desi background I cheer her ballsiness. So much of my life I've played the grateful migrant, just keeping my head down and pleased to exist and occupy the space, and not rock the boat even if it was to my detriment.
Jamil is less invested in the status quo which allows her to speak fearlessly against "rich, white, male privilege" than others more embedded in the Old Hollywood system of relationships and power.
In an interview with The Cut, Jamil reveals her bad-assness and personal power comes from not being overly invested in the industry to ever feel held hostage to abusive and unfair treatment, or to compromise her mental health: “I came out the gate like, I don’t care about this industry. I’ll happily go and clear out bins tomorrow,” she said.
“It’s not that I don’t love what I do, but honestly nothing other than love, mental health, and the happiness of the people around you matters. I think because I believe that, I’ve been a bit of a psycho throughout my career. There’s something scary about a loose cannon. People know that you’re constantly mouthing off all the time in interviews and that you don’t have anything to lose,” she concluded. “People with nothing to lose are the most dangerous people in the world.”
As the world traps women and minorities into thinking they need to accept substandard treatment in order to survive, even if they are powerful celebrities like Thurman, Jamil is proof that one can say 'no' and still thrive, by believing in better for yourself.
The reason Jamil can speak these truths is because she feels she has nothing to lose. She doesn't have Tarantino's power, but she does have a platform. She is using the only power she has - her voice. As more women pick up the mic and speak their truths on social media, they become harder to ignore. And the world is listening.