HBO Max has released a statement following significant backlash to its announcement that “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil had been tapped to MC and judge its ballroom voguing competition series “Legendary.”
“Yesterday, HBO Max was excited to announce Dashaun and Jameela’s involvement in the series ‘Legendary.’ For clarity, Dashaun is the series’ MC/Commentator, and Jameela heads up the panel of judges alongside Leiomy, Law, and Megan,” the statement, released late Wednesday night, read.
The initial release from the forthcoming streamer clearly stated that Jamil had been chosen to carry out both important roles of MC and judge on the show. However, the release produced a negative response, particularly from members of the LGBTQ community who accused Jamil of not being representative of ballroom culture, which was founded by primarily black and Latinx LGBTQ people in New York in the late 1980s.
Trace Lysette, the “Transparent” star who is an active member of ballroom culture, revealed on Twitter that she “interviewed for this gig” and questioned the streamer’s decision to choose Jamil.
“As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it’s kind of kind 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,” Lysette wrote.
While “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge and executive producer Michelle Visage commented on Twitter that there are “literally so many others who actually KNOW about ball who should [be] on”.
Following the response, Jamil refuted the initial press release and reports citing it, saying that she is in fact not slated to MC the show, but is “just one of the judges,” blaming “an inaccurate press release” for the confusion and for triggering a slew of “incorrect news articles.”
The situation also led Jamil to share a lengthy post in which she said she identifies as queer, saying that “this is absolutely not how (she) wanted it to come out.”
“I know that my being queer doesn’t qualify me as ballroom,” Jamil went on to write in the post. “But I have privilege and power and a large following to bring to this show, (as does the absolutely iconic Megan Thee Stallion,) and its beautiful contestants and ballroom hosts.”
Indya Moore, the star of FX’s “Pose,” which centers around ballroom culture and featured voguing as a prominent storyline in its recent second season, rushed to defuse the situation, saying that she had spoken with Jamil and confirmed that Wesley was MC’ing and that Leiomy Maldonado and DJ MikeQ, all of whom are prominent figures on the ballroom scene, would have more significant roles in the show than had perhaps first been reported.
Moore had been one of the names touted by many online as being better suited to the MC role than Jamil.
“I understand some of us ballroom participants are disappointed around not being included on the show this time around & it’s a valid frustration to work so hard & feel/be unseen,” Moore tweeted. “Which is why we should applaud, cheer & support for Leiomy, Dashaun, MikeQ & other ballroom kin who will be the stars of this production. There are also other ballroom kin who WILL be on & apart of the show in a large & incredible way & this is an amazing opportunity for them too.”