Three months ago, Prince Harry and Meghan used their Sussex Royal Instagram account to highlight a group of mental health campaigners – including actor turned activist Jameela Jamil. The pair were drawn to Jameela’s I Weigh movement, through which she’s trying to change the narrative about how women’s bodies are discussed. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that Jameela was featured on the cover of Vogue’s Forces of Change issue – guest-edited by Meghan. Except it was.
Jameela, 33, exclusively tells Grazia that when she was first approached to write an essay about gender equality and societal expectations of women by Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful several months ago, she had no idea Meghan was involved. ‘We weren’t told there was a guest editor, and definitely not that it was Meghan,’ says Jameela, who adds that she discovered the truth just days before everyone else. ‘Meghan called me herself. I missed the call three times before I finally answered, I wanted to punch myself!
‘She explained that she’d guest-edited the issue, and apologised that the whole thing had been shrouded in so much secrecy. She said she had chosen to feature me because she’d seen what I had been doing and was a fan. To know that she had followed my work with I Weigh meant a lot.’
There could barely be a more unexpected call to receive, but Jameela says it wasn’t as weird as it sounds, and that Meghan was ‘warm, kind and actually very LOLs’. She adds, ‘I had never met her before, but we chatted very openly. She told me how important gender equality was to her.’ Evidence of her ‘very LOLs’ credentials came when Meghan admitted she was a fan of more than Jameela’s activism.
‘She said she loved The Good Place,’ says Jameela of her E4 TV show. ‘I then felt immediately embarrassed that she had seen me joke about her on the show.’ Meghan definitely had; she made a deadpan reference to Jameela’s character Tahani, who name drops, and claimed in one episode that she played matchmaker for Meghan and Harry. ‘She said she’s grateful to Tahani for introducing her to Harry. I just replied, “You’re welcome”.’
Meghan aside, for Jameela to appear on Vogue’s cover at all was an emotional experience. ‘I was a teenage anorexic model and all I wanted was to be in Vogue. But it took me gaining 30lbs, to be in my thirties, and to be fighting against those very things to actually manage it. Here, our minds, talent and contribution were the focus, rather than our looks – and that is so important.’