5 — Aisling Bea
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:00:00] Hello. How are you? I wish I could hear your answer, but I’m hoping that you’re sort of nodding or letting me know that you’re okay. I. I am very excited to bring you today’s guest. She is a great stand up comedian and a writer and an actor and just an all round legend. I am talking about Aisling Bea. She is such a funny and honest and compelling human being and got so personal with me to the point where we both cried at the end of this episode, which was very unexpected. And I learned so much about her. I learned so much about her experience. She, she’s been through a fair amount of trauma as a child and takes us kind of through how that has impacted her later in life. She talks to me about mental health and anxiety and, and loneliness in a way that I have never really had someone talk to me about their own personal experience with it. And the whole point of this podcast is just to try to make all of us feel a little bit less alone and a little bit more connected, which is actually why from now on, I’m going to start including members of the “I Weigh” community. In this podcast. I love this community. And you while I hope that I have been helpful to you, I cannot tell you how helpful you have been to me and how you have held me to be accountable for my own mental health and for how I speak to myself and speak to others. And without your messages and support and all your signatures on all of my petitions, I wouldn’t have been able to get any of the things done that I have achieved. All of this has been a group effort that I couldn’t have done on my own. And so I would like to hear more from you. I love your “I Weigh” pages so much on social media and I would like to hear them on this podcast so we can start to make this more of a rounded experience. It’s really important to me to know how you’re feeling and how you value yourself. And I learn from you in the things that you pick out about what is important about your life and what you’re going to look back on your deathbed. And remember about yourself. So if you want to leave your “I Weigh” verbally on this podcast, you can leave me a voicemail at (818)-660-5543. If you’re outside of the United States, that’s plus 1-(818)-660-5543. Or you can email me on email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you. We’re actually showcasing our first one at the end of this very episode. Please join me in falling madly in love with Aisling Bea. She’s such a legend, she’s so unique. You can watch her on the telly in “This Way Up”, a show that she wrote and starred in, that is about mental health and living with depression and what that’s like. Not only for yourself, but for all the people around you. We discuss that a little bit in the episode, but just have a lovely sit back and a cup of tea and some cake and enjoy. How do you feel, do you feel okay?
AISLING BEA [00:03:15] I feel okay. Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:17] Ok, good. Do you feel ready?
AISLING BEA [00:03:18] I feel overly confident if anything. I feel, I feel a bit arrogant.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:25] We might have to keep this in.
AISLING BEA [00:03:26] I actually feel arrogant.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:27] Yeah. That’s good
AISLING BEA [00:03:27] To the point of almost like what I can only describe as a dictator-like quality to.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:31] You know what? It’s funny you say that actually. Are we. We are recording, right? Yeah. It’s a, I, I have been sort of coming to terms with the fact that I need a bit more arrogance in my life.
AISLING BEA [00:03:43] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:44] Is this happening to you? Or is this something that’s happening because I’m in my 30s?
AISLING BEA [00:03:47] And is it arrogance? Or do they need another word?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:49] Yeah. Just basic level self-confidence.
AISLING BEA [00:03:51] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of one of those things. Like now I don’t apologize when I buy something in a shop. Oh, you arrogant bitch.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:03:58] I know because there’s a whole the classic Englishwoman thing of if you compliment any woman’s garment of clothing she has to immediately tell you like, “Oh I just found this for 5p and it was covered in a sick and dog poo, And I didn’t spend any money on myself. I’ve done nothing nice for myself”.
AISLING BEA [00:04:15] Yeah. Don’t worry Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:16] “Don’t worry. This was just a mistake”.
AISLING BEA [00:04:18] I still have myself.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:19] “I’m going to take it off now and just give it to you”.
AISLING BEA [00:04:20] Yeah, give it to you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:20] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:04:21] That is multiplied when you’re an Irish Catholic woman.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:25] Oh, really?
AISLING BEA [00:04:25] Oh, it’s like next level. It’s like, “I ruined it. I ruined it myself. I was sick on the top”. You know, like that you’re like, “And I did it to myself”. Like it’s even worse. You know? It’s like that lack of confidence where we just didn’t go and conquer any of the world. We’re like, “No, no. You may as well conquer us because we’re all piles of shite”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:43] Yeah. Oh, she’s already stripping if anyone’s watching this podcast.
AISLING BEA [00:04:47] See, I told you. I’m pretty sassy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:47] Yeah, one day in Hollywood.
AISLING BEA [00:04:51] Jameela.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:51] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:04:51] I know why you brought me here.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:04:52] It’s not that kind of interview.
AISLING BEA [00:04:54] Oh really? Oh, my God. ‘Cause I thought over the emails, you just seem so flirty. Oh, I’ve completely misread this situation. I’m so embarrassed.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:04] But speaking of female bragging, I was at an awards ceremony earlier in the year and Shonda Rhimes, the great Shonda Rhimes, got up on stage and she was talking about the fact the women just don’t brag enough.
AISLING BEA [00:05:18] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:18] And then she went on to announce that she is the highest paid showrunner in the entire world.
AISLING BEA [00:05:24] Oh, my God. Amazing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:26] Isn’t that cool? So a woman in her 40s, who’s a woman of color, a black woman in Hollywood.
AISLING BEA [00:05:31] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:32] The highest paid show runner in the world.
AISLING BEA [00:05:34] But also, we collectively have to look at if we’re going, “Guys, you should all brag more”. How do we react when people actually do it?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:42] Yes.
AISLING BEA [00:05:43] So there’s a lot and I’ve definitely the person going, “Oh, God. Are ya? Well, thanks for telling us”. You know?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:05:49] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:05:49] We have to look at how we react when people say things like that. I know. I was like one thing I’m really proud of. And Katherine Ryan, who’s a comedian friend of both of us. She was talking about how on her episode of “Who Do You Think You Are”, which for anyone who’s not from Britain or Ireland. It’s a show where people go and look at their generations and where they came from.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:10] Oh, my God, I’m never doing that show.
AISLING BEA [00:06:11] Oh, my God. Oh, it would be so fascinating.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:13] No.
AISLING BEA [00:06:14] Yours would be fascinating.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:15] Keep going. Talk about Katherine, let’s get off my family.
AISLING BEA [00:06:18] Yeah, but like most people. Like, end of go-. Like if it was me, there was, we, we were like born from bacteria in Ireland, it would be so boring, It’d just be like a one hour road trip down to Kerry. You know like at least you get to go somewhere interesting.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:31] But every generation is supposed to evolve. And if, like, this is the trash bucket that’s left in 2020. We are absolutely buggered.
AISLING BEA [00:06:40] No. Why don’t you brag? Imagine the success that you have had versus your origins.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:45] Fuck. All right. Talk about Katherine Ryan.
AISLING BEA [00:06:46] Here we go. What she was saying that like, you know, her great grandmother would not have been allowed to buy a house and that she has now bought a house from comedy. And I own my own house in London from jokes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:03] Yes.
AISLING BEA [00:07:03] I, like 50 years ago, my granny would have needed to see a signatory from a man to have a house. And I was saying that to someone, they were like, “Alright, we get it”. And I was really like, “No, this is something I’m genuinely proud of”. I’m not say it to name drop or I’m not saying it kind of, I’m really proud of it. I’m proud that I bought a house with jokes and I was quite interested by the reaction, it sort of made me question maybe you shouldn’t go on about it, but it’s something I’m so fiercely proud of. And it is. You’re not sure who’s gonna react, like it’s not always, I can imagine there’s lots of times where the reaction is more than often, like, “All right, mate. We get it. No need to go on about it”. So a lot of the time. The reason we don’t is because a reaction we get is not a positive one.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:51] Well, especially as women.
AISLING BEA [00:07:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah, without a doubt.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:53] As women, how dare we feel anything other than grateful to be in the room. And out of the kitchen.
AISLING BEA [00:07:58] I wonder, though, sometimes do we perpetuate that within ourselves?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:02] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:08:02] So it’s women with other women. I used to have stand up about this as well where it was like, you know, there is an expectation that if you tell me like, I look nice. I’m gonna tell you three times I don’t and then the third one I’ll take. But I don’t expect you to stop complimenting me after one. So if you’re like, “Aisling, you look nice”. I’m like, “I know, I look like a pile of shite”. And you go, “No, you don’t”. I go, “Well, I’m no, I do a bit”. And you go, “No, you don’t really. Shut up now”. And I’m like, “Ok, well, thank you very much. That’s very nice”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:31] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:08:32] Now if I told you you looked really nice and and my, my friend does this actually. She goes, “Ah, thank you so much”. And I’m always like, “No, you have to go three more times before you say ‘thank you’. There’s not-. Don’t be so confident with it. That’s not how it works”. You’re not supposed to just take a compliment. Like I look at myself. I will, I’ll be like, no, that’s you can’t just accept it because you know, but you already know. Then what was the point of me telling you? You know?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:54] You’re right. It’s a journey. We totally, we totally have to stop doing it ourselves and perpetuating ourselves, although I think that it’s just a general pattern with shame. I think there is a society around us that, that, that perpetuates shame, especially of women feeling confident. And I think that’s because society’s afraid of women feeling confident, because then we might actually go on to completely thrive and then be equal.
AISLING BEA [00:09:15] But also it takes a lot of work, like daily work, to get out of that pattern because I was talking to my therapist recently and she told me about the three sections of the brain. The first is like your logical brain.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:26] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:09:26] So us talking about this and going, “Yes, we should stop shame”. Then there’s your mammalian brain underneath that, which would still get when you feel ashamed or like you’ve been wrong, it has a physical effect on the body. It’s the flushing of your skin. It’s that “Oh, god. Oh, God, oh, god. Oh, God, why was I such an idiot”? And it, it tells your body you’ve been hit. Like it, it lights up the same part of your brain as if you’ve been whacked with a mallet. Which your body looks around for the bruise and can’t find anything. So you’re just gonna go, “Ooooh”. And then underneath that is your reptilian brain. And your reptilian brain is the hardest thing to change because that’s the sort of part of you that’s formed in your first few years.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:03] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:10:03] So the first few years of life and everything that happens to you, whether you had lots of love or didn’t have love, or the things that you had or got taken away or little pre-programing moments in your first three or four years, which are incredibly hard to deprogram from your actual body. So a lot of it is faking it till you make it up in your head, but you still feel, I’m so cringing or I’m so, and I find that quite fascinating that there’s… there’s all these conversations that we have, which change things. And then it has to whirl its way down to your body to actually not feel it anymore.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:37] Fascinating.
AISLING BEA [00:10:37] And that takes work and years. And if you get to say 21.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:43] Like us.
AISLING BEA [00:10:44] Us two young girls, well, it won’t take too little time to un-program ourselves. But like if you get to a certain stage, you’re like, “Oh, god, this could take years to undo”, as well, to physically let yourself know that you shouldn’t be kind of shaking and cringing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:10:58] Well, that’s exactly it. The reason I was bringing up the fact that there is a society that shames us is because that should be a further incentive for us to push harder and do that work every single day to remind ourselves that we are entitled to a little healthy dose of pride.
AISLING BEA [00:11:14] Without a doubt. And also, you know, what I find interesting?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:18] I would love to know what you find interesting.
AISLING BEA [00:11:20] This is the only thing I find interesting. Everything else to me is-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:22] Shoot.
AISLING BEA [00:11:22] Straightforward, boring. No is that I definitely came into comedy working within spaces which were not designed for me. Or rather, is not that they weren’t welcoming, but were not spaces that were designed for.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:38] Loud Irish people.
AISLING BEA [00:11:39] Female comedians, or loud Irish people. I was going to say “models”. Oh no. We got to stop finishing each other’s sentences because I was going to say “professional models”. But in the same way, the workspace, the 9 to 5 workspace is not designed for women who might want to have kids. That is for a man who has someone at home to look after kids. So even the idea of making a workplace where it could be 8:30-3:00 and you pick up kids and then you work at home in the evening with a different-, that is designing your own workspace. And what I really feel is happening in the last four or five years is rather than feeling a bit out of place and work in-, and places that weren’t designed for us, and I don’t just mean women, I mean anyone where you haven’t traditionally seen a version of yourself somewhere. That suddenly you think, “Oh, god, we thought we had to work in that building, but we’ve got all this bricks and mortar and assemble our own building over here”. So female production companies that I mostly work with, female production companies, places which are your own spaces and you can start with your own foundation rules and hours from the ground up, rather than some weird reason you thought you had to go and exist in that space. So there is this big cha-. You know, there was a whole chat for anyone who’s again, not from a UK or Ireland, panel shows are a big thing in the UK and Ireland, which are kind of long tables full of comedians talking about the news and subjects. And we were always sort of fitting into ones that had been in existence for 15, 20 years and-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:05] Like seven men. One token woman.
AISLING BEA [00:13:07] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:09] Yep.
AISLING BEA [00:13:09] And, and that’s fine. I made my career out of that. It’s helped by the, the house the jokes built. Yes, that’s quite funny.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:17] You should put that on a plaque.
AISLING BEA [00:13:18] I’m too busy with my modeling career to deal with a plaque business. But that, to start your own from the ground up rather than to sort of feel like an imposter there and working overly hard where it could just be easy. That’s been kind of fascinating to me now. Because I, like Obama, for example, apparently only has two color ties because in the morning he doesn’t want to use up his choice part of his brain. And then everything after that, you know, it’s just like.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:48] Similar to a woman’s morning routine. Right?
AISLING BEA [00:13:50] Exactly. I only have to ties.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:51] Yes.
AISLING BEA [00:13:52] You know.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:13:53] And then I feel naked outside of that.
AISLING BEA [00:13:53] And people say, “Aisling, you should wear more”. Yeah. How about underwear? And I’m like too many choices. I’m doing what Obama does. And so-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:03] I love the idea that the president just walks around butt naked.
AISLING BEA [00:14:08] “Michelle. Michelle. I’ve never felt so free. Michelle”. She’s just like, “Barack. Could you please put on a tie? Anything more than a tie? And could you put it around your neck? I feel you currently have it hanging is disgusting”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:22] Oh my god.
AISLING BEA [00:14:23] Well, I mean, I think we’d all be very happy to see Obama with just a tie without trying to take away from all of his achievements. But-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:30] Not to objectify.
AISLING BEA [00:14:32] Not to objectify, but.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:14:33] I know, woof.
AISLING BEA [00:14:33] But in that way I think those little incremental things that get in the way of you just doing your job. They really do drain your resources. The little moments of pulling away at decisions or trying to worry about will it be okay? Will it be that? Will it be that? Rather than just knowing you’re gonna be fine and going in and just getting to do your job. That, that is what we’re all ideally looking for. Places where you don’t have to think about the color of your skin. Your, your, your sexual leaning, whatever it is that you just go in and can get on with the day.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:04] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:15:04] You know?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:04] Ava DeVernay was talking about this recently, who is an incredible filmmaker, and she just said she’s tired of trying to get a seat at other people’s table.
AISLING BEA [00:15:13] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:13] She’s decided to just build her own table. And I think that that’s such a perfect way of putting it.
AISLING BEA [00:15:17] Well, I thought it was more perfect when I said like the house.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:19] No, I think that’s her, yeah, yours was also good.
AISLING BEA [00:15:22] Just ’cause it’s more difficult to build a house than a table.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:23] Your one had a naked visual of Obama walking around with nothing but a tie on so-.
AISLING BEA [00:15:26] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And your problem is? Also.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:30] No, I love that.
AISLING BEA [00:15:30] If you have a table. What if it rains?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:32] That’s true.
AISLING BEA [00:15:33] Whereas in the house, you have a roof. I’m not trying to get into a metaphor over here but.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:38] Oh my god, I think I wanna marry you. It’s so nice to see you. Ok.
AISLING BEA [00:15:42] What a wedding.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:46] We haven’t even properly started this off. This is the intro, by the way.
AISLING BEA [00:15:47] Yeah. Let’s start.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:51] So everyone, I’m talking to Aisling Bea.
AISLING BEA [00:15:57] Oh yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:57] Who is a friend of mine from back in the day, someone I’ve admired from afar and up close. And Aisling has recently, I mean, it’s kind of recently is still, it’s still buzzing and now it’s available on Hulu.
AISLING BEA [00:16:10] Oh, the show. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:10] You have your own show called “This Way Up”.
AISLING BEA [00:16:11] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:12] Now you are also a famous stand up comedian.
AISLING BEA [00:16:14] Very famous, very famous.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:15] You’re a writer. You’re an actress. Now you’re acting opposite Paul Rudd. The dream. The un-aging dream.
AISLING BEA [00:16:22] Dream.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:22] Yep. Have you seen the painting?
AISLING BEA [00:16:24] He who will not age.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:26] And you are here. I mean, you here to talk to me because you love me.
AISLING BEA [00:16:30] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:31] And I didn’t really give you a choice.
AISLING BEA [00:16:32] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:32] But I wanted to talk to you about shame, because you not only have a show that is based heavily around A, well love and family, but also mental illness.
AISLING BEA [00:16:41] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:41] But also, you’ve made a career of going around the world telling people your innermost darkest secrets.
AISLING BEA [00:16:47] Yes. I think stand up comedy definitely thrives on things we should be embarrassed of. And you can always feel that in an audience, you tip toe out with a subject and you go, “What about this”? And people go, “Oh ho, ho, ho, ho, ho”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:16:59] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:16:59] And you get it. One thing in terms of shame. So my show is called “This Way Up” and it’s on Hulu in America or all on Channel 4 in the UK. And I think it’ll be coming round to the rest of the world whenever we find someone would take it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:12] After this podcast, don’t worry about it.
AISLING BEA [00:17:13] Oh, listen. Listen. Once this podcast drops.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:15] It’ll take off. It’s a big deal.
AISLING BEA [00:17:17] How am I gonna, you know, just like walked down the street anywhere?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:17:21] I know. You gonna have to change your voice.
AISLING BEA [00:17:22] Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Hello. Nah, it’s not me, but I do look like her. I do look like her. Sorry. Just in terms of shame. One of my big mission statements with “This Way Up” was to try and write a comedy about loneliness. And I feel, I read this quote about someone talking about being lonely. And it, I can’t remember what it was in, to be honest, but it was about how loneliness is like when in the 50s if people thought someone had cancer, they were like, we can’t talk about it because it was a death sentence and I might catch it or we don’t know how someone will catch it. I think loneliness is so pervasive in our society and it’s something that people feel if you tell someone. That they might go, Ew, why are you lonely? I don’t want to catch loneliness from you”. I don’t want to know that you’re alone because that makes you what, you want is, is to be intimate with people and have people around you in some way.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:18:24] It’s like no one wants to eat at an empty restaurant.
AISLING BEA [00:18:26] Yes, exactly.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:18:26] Why did no one else go to this bloody restaurant?
AISLING BEA [00:18:29] Ok, you win metaphor awards. Because that is. OK, fine. That’s great. Yes, but a restaurant with a roof.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:18:35] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:18:35] But that. That is exactly it. That is exact-. No, even. And they’re like, oh, if we could just get some people to eat the food and people would come into the restaurant. But I really wanted to try. And I have been so overwhelmed by the response to the show, because the people who get in touch about that very element of it don’t look like anything. There are no particular age. There are no particular gender, religion or anything like that. The idea that you can’t be lonely if you’re Meghan Markle or that you can’t be lonely-. I talked to my mother about this recently. She was like, “You know what? I’ve always been very lucky. I don’t suffer from loneliness”. She’s on her own. She had us, she raised us on her own. But she just doesn’t get that, that loneliness. And I, I’d say it’s been the thing that’s haunted me the most my whole life, whether I’m with someone or not, in a large group or not. And I’ve loads of friends. My cup runneth over with the beautiful friendships I have.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:33] All right, calm down.
AISLING BEA [00:19:33] But loneliness is something. No, but I’m really popular. I know what you mean, it’s like, I am really popular. Like, I can’t, I have to tell everyone about it. I have to brag about it. But I still get like just these cripple, this crippling loneliness a lot of the time. And so that’s kind of, I remember even when my show came out in August in the U.K., I talked about it with “The Guardian” and “The Guardian” did this big picture of my face with the word “loneliness” across it. And again, I was so embarrassed. I was like, “I don’t want to be the face of loneliness. I want to be the face of Chanel”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:08] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:20:09] You know, I don’t want to be like, “Lonely Woman! Oh, she’s so lone-“. Like, who wants to go out with that? Who wants to be friends with that? Who wants to be like, “Oh. I love you. But I, bye”! Like there was something felt so embarrassing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:23] It’s like-. Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:20:24] Yeah,.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:24] I know what you mean.
AISLING BEA [00:20:25] It feels so eating out of a tin. You know, it feels ugly in a way that just isn’t nice. And I remember feeling it at school sometimes and I’m a very confident person like I do have a high amount of confidence. But that crippling loneliness, it’s like-. I often say it’s a bit like, like a, like your soul is a bit homeless. Like it feels like it doesn’t have a, it’s living in a box. And it’s kind of sad.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:51] My soul is Anne Hathaway in that movie where she goes to space.
AISLING BEA [00:20:54] Oh, God. I thought, you were going to say “Les Miserables”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:56] And you know, she comes back from space, doesn’t she? Who’s the one? Someone gets like cut off. Is it? Who is it?
AISLING BEA [00:21:00] George Clooney did.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:01] George Clooney.
AISLING BEA [00:21:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sandra Bullock came back.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:04] That’s it.
AISLING BEA [00:21:05] Anne Hathaway came back. But we haven’t seen George since.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:07] No. I’m George. That’s my soul. So I fully, I fully appreciate the loneliness aspect. OK, back to “This Way Up”. So this is a show about loneliness, but it also investigates the mental health of a young woman who’s kind of overcoming a, as you say, a teeny little nervous breakdown.
AISLING BEA [00:21:23] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:23] And, and it’s how the world kind of responds to that and how she responds to her own recovery. Something I found very interesting about this is the fact that you are playing a teacher who’s teaching English as a foreign language, who’s mentally ill.
AISLING BEA [00:21:38] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:38] I believe that you’ve written that show about me. ‘Cause I was an English teacher.
AISLING BEA [00:21:43] Were you?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:43] I taught English as a foreign language.
AISLING BEA [00:21:45] Oh, my God, Jameela.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:46] And I was having a nervous breakdown when I was in my 20s.
AISLING BEA [00:21:49] Oh, my gosh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:51] This show is about me. I’ve never felt more seen or exposed at the same time.
AISLING BEA [00:21:54] I would have paid to see footage of you with your gazelle like presence waltzing into like-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:02] No, it wasn’t that at all.
AISLING BEA [00:22:03] Yeah. Did you enjoy it?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:05] I loved that job. I think it’s why I’m able to perform now. I really enjoy it.
AISLING BEA [00:22:10] Some people really weirdly describe parts of the show and this is again how we review women. And I’ve been quite interested by how the show just even in brilliant reviews. Words that pop up like “Her life’s going nowhere”. And I’m like, “No, she’s a really good teacher”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:24] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:22:24] What part of that woman’s life is like, “Oh”, like she’s a good teacher who connects with their students.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:28] Helping their lives also go somewhere.
AISLING BEA [00:22:29] Yeah, and I can also really imagine you as a teacher and in a sense, or everything you’ve gone on to do.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:34] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:22:34] Is a variation on, “Hey, you guys, how can we connect together and move us forward”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:39] I mean, I was, I was questionable. I, A, I’d lied that I had the qualifications to teach. I lied in my application process where they were like, “Where did you go to university”? And I was like, “Cambridge”. And because I spoke in a posh accent, obviously, I left school at 16.
AISLING BEA [00:22:53] Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:53] So I have no A levels. No basic education.
AISLING BEA [00:22:56] And by Cambridge. I mean, I was in the punting school.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:22:58] I once went to, yeah, I once went to a pub in Cambridge.
AISLING BEA [00:23:02] I once went to a pub in Cambridge.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:04] And I, and I, you know, I used to have very, very kind of embarrassing exposing moments. I remember once sitting, I had a classroom full of Polish nuns who are all in this sort of late 60s, early 70s.
AISLING BEA [00:23:15] Big shout out to the girls listening to the podcast right now.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:17] Yeah, and who hopefully can understand this because of what I taught them.
AISLING BEA [00:23:21] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:22] So they, the way you begin English is a foreign language. Did you ever teach English as the foreign language?
AISLING BEA [00:23:26] No. But all of my family are teachers so I know a lot about it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:30] Brilliant. Well, the early stages people turn up in your classroom and they know literally nothing. No English.
AISLING BEA [00:23:35] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:35] They obviously know things about the world. They just know no English. And you have to teach them via the art of mime in the first couple of weeks. So one day, I was 19 years old, standing in front of a classroom of horrified nuns, teaching them only via the art of mime. Why, you must never pronounce sitting “shitting”.
AISLING BEA [00:23:55] Oh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:56] I had to use my fist to pretend it was a block of poo and make it drop from my asshole while squatting.
AISLING BEA [00:24:03] And they’re all like-. Jesus Christ.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:24:07] And I feel like after that I could just do anything. That moment single handedly spearheaded the rest of my career, my shameless career.
AISLING BEA [00:24:14] Well, you know, one reason I wrote that particular classroom and that situation was I’ve always made very aware by this brilliant lady I know who is from Bulgaria and clearly has all of this personality. And if we could communicate, we would probably be friends. But instead, it’s a lot of mime. And I was like, “Oh, my God. You are in this city, kind of on your own in London”. And the you that you know, to be your full self can’t get out because of this barrier of language. And so even those nuns, if they had been able to chat to you, you would have remembered a host of different personalities.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:24:51] Well, they would have cussed me out and told me I was going to Hell. But still.
AISLING BEA [00:24:52] Yeah. I mean, absolutely. But at least you would’ve known in advance.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:24:56] Yes.
AISLING BEA [00:24:56] Whereas, you know, you learn Poland, Polish language.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:24:58] No, I still have an inkling.
AISLING BEA [00:25:01] But those nuns would have not just been a group of foreign nuns. They would have been individual people with all of their stories and when we, that can be another barrier to like getting to know people in a loneliness in the city when you don’t have the words to express yourself. And I often think about this. We talked about mental health and suicide and stuff before. I often think about, so for those who don’t know and you know, Jamila, I wrote an article about two years ago about my dad’s death from suicide. And one of the things I was really struck by recently is that next year, I’ll turn the same age as he was when he died. And I was like, god, I have, I’d say 20,000 more words. He was a very educated man. But I’d say I have 20,000 words more to describe in the English language how I feel and access to them than he had in 1987.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:25:54] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:25:55] And emotional language is another language. And to have it and if you don’t have the words to get out how you feel. I feel angry. I feel hurt. I feel resentful at the moment over what’s happening. To be able to analyze how you feel and express it effectively. To be able to get that out, like, I don’t know if you’ve ever bleed a radiator.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:15] I have.
AISLING BEA [00:26:15] But like you just like slowly let the raw air out.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:17] I only have really been famous for two years. Ok, I was a real person once.
AISLING BEA [00:26:21] I’ve actually bleed out, how many then, Jameela? I bled out 15.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:24] About 3.
AISLING BEA [00:26:25] Well, ok, ok. So humble. Jenny from the block.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:28] I brushed my own teeth this morning.
AISLING BEA [00:26:30] That can be your-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:31] Jammey from the block.
AISLING BEA [00:26:32] Just because my butler wasn’t available, he was too busy brushing my hair. But you know, like when you bleed a radiator, you slowly let the air out and then the warmth comes back. And that’s almost like what language gives us. The words to get your feeling is slowly going, “Hey, I’m just going to flag this up in advance. I’m feeling really weirded out right now. And I don’t know why, but I’ve just got this odd feeling. And can I talk to you about it”? And that the other person has the space and ability to hear that and you also speak the same language. And sometimes I think, like when I think back on my dad, I’m like, “God, you didn’t even have the English words to be like, “Where is the train station’?”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:12] It was mad or not mad. That’s it. That’s all they had. Was mad and go to the looney bin and that’s it.
AISLING BEA [00:27:15] Yeah yeah. You’re mad or not mad. Or angry or not angry. Or less and or ashamed.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:20] And anger is just with the fists.
AISLING BEA [00:27:21] But even to say it makes me feel-. Yes, exactly.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:22] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:27:23] And that’s still something we, I think we’ve really, my friend Broner always says like, “The biggest number the patriarchy ever did was on men” and that like that the, the way we’ve repressed the space, what, what, what being a man should and can and potentially could be. For me it’s like it doesn’t help anyone and it’s not denying masculinity to be vulnerable or to have that. But also and that’s another situation where we have to-. Brené Brown talks about this, who’s one of our favorite people. She talks about how a man came up to her after her speech about vulnerability. I would recommend anyone to listen to her TEDTalk on vulnerability. Just put in “Brené Brown Vulnerability” into Google. She talks about how this man came up to her after one of her talks about shame. And he said, “You don’t understand. Like, if I came and said I’m vulnerable to my wife and daughters, that they would be like, ‘We can’t let you be because we need you to be our rock’”. And so as much as we talk about, “Hey, guys, we need you to be vulnerable and talk about your feelings”. Can we handle that? If we have to be the ones to take over? Now, I personally can because I didn’t grow up in a family with any men. So I’m just like, “What do they do? Where do they go? It might be nice to sit around wearing their ties and nothing else”. But it’s not just about-. It’s about that, when someone speaks about their feelings, is it a safe place for them to do that? So while it might be a nice theory to, to, to brag, have we created a space where someone can be clapped, whereas someone, where we give someone a big round of applause and they know they’re gonna get it, when, like it, like a perfect safe space would be that wherever you were with Ava DuVernay that she was like.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:16] I was at the Glamor Awards.
AISLING BEA [00:29:17] The Glamor Awards.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:18] Yeah, it’s just one of those places I go.
AISLING BEA [00:29:18] But you would know going in the Glamor Awards is somewhere you will get a giant round of applause.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:22] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:29:22] For being a confident woman.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:23] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:29:24] And how do we create the Glamor Awards over a cup of tea with our friends or in our bedrooms with all of our pals? And-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:30] Is that part of your motivation then, with a lot of your work? A, with your stand up, the way that you kind of de-stigmatize things that sometimes women feel embarrassed to talk about. And with “This Way Up”, you know, talking about mental health, talking about loneliness is part of your mission to de-stigmatize these things in order to create this mass social environment.
AISLING BEA [00:29:49] Definitely, I think.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:49] That in which we welcome people who are trying these new healthy things.
AISLING BEA [00:29:53] Yeah, I think. And before we started recording this podcast, Jameela and I were briefly talking about the weight of responsibility as individuals when you do something that you don’t think is going to go viral or mean a lot to somebody. And when I wrote that article about my dad, stigma, there is such a stigma still around suicide. And I definitely pounced upon any single thing I ever saw in the press. I was like, “Oh, my God, is somebody else talking about it”? Because there was just, there was a vacuum of people you would know or anyone talking about how they felt about it. They were just as vacuum. So I suppose I should have maybe preempted what didn’t, the reaction to it? And I’ve just gotten thousands and thousands of messages about suicide. And to be honest, they were, I’m, please keep on getting in touch and sending me things if you want, but it is a lot to get. And I was very like, I felt this guilt if I didn’t get back to people. And you can’t, you cannot reply to thousands of messages. You just, you just can’t. And so I think in a way, even though “This Way Up” didn’t start out as that, I think what I wanted to make, whether it was a hopeful show that dealt with it, but even that there’s “up” in the title, it’s about it’s, it’s, we’re coming, like there is hope and something positive and not entirely maudlin and a safe space where don’t worry, there’s gonna be jokes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:23] In fact I want to talk to you about using humor in these situations.
AISLING BEA [00:31:27] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:27] But we’re going to do it right after the break.
AISLING BEA [00:31:28] Oh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:35] Okay, so we’re back, I’m going to let you swallow your tea. Sexy. Ok, so we were talking about humor, using humor when it comes to discussing your issues. Now, this is something obviously I’m not gonna go on a whole lot of, “Oh, everyone’s gone too PC”.
AISLING BEA [00:31:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:53] ‘Cause political correctness is vitally important to civilization. I get that and I support that. But I do think that sometimes even those who are suffering with something are now being policed around joking about their own experience, which I think draws, I would draw a line there.
AISLING BEA [00:32:11] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:12] I feel like humor is vital for that very thing. I use humor to joke about every horrendous thing that’s happened in my life and that’s how I’ve overcome it and survived it. In fact, I’m actually currently in trouble for this. Ongoing in trouble.
AISLING BEA [00:32:25] Go on.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:25] On going in trouble.
AISLING BEA [00:32:25] Tell us.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:27] I. I frequently like to take a big shit on Piers Morgan whenever I can publicly. It’s just a sort of this little pastime.
AISLING BEA [00:32:32] Oh, god, I thought you were like because you love him so much. And that’s something you guys are into as a couple.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:36] No, no.
AISLING BEA [00:32:39] I was like, “Oh no, I’m on the wrong podcast”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:41] I bet he likes that. No, but, I, I was sort of, we were talking about Piers Morgan and someone said, “You know, like no matter how much people try to get rid of him, he just keeps popping up”. And I was like, “I know he’s like the HPV of Britain”.
AISLING BEA [00:32:56] Yeah. Great.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:32:56] And that’s more a reference to the fact that HPV never really goes away.
AISLING BEA [00:33:00] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:00] Yeah, it just keeps popping back up in new mutations, new TV shows on ITV. And so I got into a lot of trouble. And have been for months and months and months now because people are saying that I am being insensitive about HPV. And I’ve frequently talked about the fact that I personally am someone who has HPV, much like most of the modern world.
AISLING BEA [00:33:23] I think with those situations, as long as you and you are very good at this, it’s like, it’s like what you’re famous for is going “Really? Interesting. Ok, let me examine that”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:31] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:33:31] But you have every right to come back and go, “No, lads, I’m gonna stick by it”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:33:35] Yeah. This time I heard it out, but I was a bit like, “Well, I’ve got this. I feel like it’s very much so my right to be allowed to discuss that in a humorous way”. Why must I be forced to feel sad about-?
AISLING BEA [00:33:45] I think is and this is probably a part of the reaction you were getting is the idea that there’s outrage rather than-. So when someone comes at you, it’s a thing going, “Listen, I’m really hurt by something”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:00] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:34:01] You can go, “Oh, interesting”. But you don’t immediately have to assume you’re wrong. And whether there is a right and wrong that you can go, “Ok, I’m hearing what you’re saying. I’m gonna have a little examine and go”. You know what? I. Ok, this happened to me actually before. I’d like to think of a good gage because I been working in comedy a long time. I, one time lost my glasses at a gig and I, I put up on Instagram, someone found them for me and I put up an Instagram, “Please call off the Coast Guard, the police and the armed guards, because we have actually managed to locate my glasses”. And a woman got in touch with me. A lovely woman who was a fan, but said, “I can’t believe you’re being so insensitive”. And basically, it turned out her husband had died. He was a Coast Guard. He had died during a rescue mission. And she was clearly in her grief.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:56] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:34:57] Very recent grief. And was one of those situations where I was like, here I have a choice. I do know what I’m doing. I’m a comedian. I’ve mentioned the Coast Guard, but just mentioning them in a joke is not undoing the work that they do or making small or like in the same way “Derry Girls”, which is when my favorite comedies, is about the troubles in Northern Ireland. And it’s actually probably educated more British people about Northern Ireland and the Troubles than any of the British school system has done. And I kind of said that to her. I was like, “Listen, I’m so sorry for your loss or whatever, but I think this is something where that’s”, I basically said it was you would know, and a couple of months later, we end up meeting. I was doing this TV show and she was getting interviewed about her husband. And we had a really lovely moment. But I also knew in that moment I was like, this isn’t about me now. And anything that pops up that feels like it’s in any way making comedy about the world he was in and he was a hero that it felt like an attack into that world. But that was a moment where I really like God. I would not want to make anyone feel less for a bloody joke about my glasses. But I was also like, this is not, this is not what you think it is. And it really. And we had such a lovely moment later on and I met her fam-, And she loves comedy and she’s a very funny person. And in those moments, sometimes you can go, “Oh, this isn’t about me making a joke here. It’s about other stuff that you’re going through”. And as long as I suppose in that moment you’re going, “Did I, let me have a look. Oh, no, I think, I think that’s actually okay within my mission statement”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:35] Personal for that person. Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:36:35] Everything. Things can always be a listenable moment. But everything does not has to be a teachable moment.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:41] Yeah. I think that’s a wonderful way of putting it. Yeah. No, for sure. I always listen and I almost always apologize. It was just one of the few times where I was a bit like.
AISLING BEA [00:36:49] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:51] In the same way that I used to be, I used to be deaf. And when I was deaf, I used to sort of make jokes about my own not being to hear.
AISLING BEA [00:36:56] Yeah, what I also think it is, even saying I almost always apologize. I think people are getting to “You can’t say anything nowadays”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:03] No, I know. But I am almost always wrong when I am apologizing I am, because because I am, you know, a flawed human.
AISLING BEA [00:37:08] But you know what it is. It’s not like, “Oh, it’s PC gone mad”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:10] No.
AISLING BEA [00:37:10] A lot of it is actually going, “Oh, no”. What, the thing is, for ages, everyone thought that they weren’t allowed to say they were hurt. And everyone saying “hurt” and it’s quite overwhelming for everyone to find that out. And generally the, the more, what’s the word? Boundaries that are put around creativity sometimes really helps the brain. So if you say, “You’re only allowed to do material by that orange segment, Aisling”. I could probably get 20 minutes out of it. If you say, “Aisling, do material about whatever you want”. I’d be like, “Uh uh uh”. Like you, and the idea that we couldn’t use creativity if you’re like, “You can’t do any Chinese voices anymore, guys”. And people were like, “What”? It’s like, “Yeah. And you know why? You were never really able to do them. They made people feel really bad. But those people didn’t have a voice”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:56] Agreed.
AISLING BEA [00:37:56] And but also, like, if that’s the only thing you had in your canon. I remember actually use that and Sara Pascoe referenced it recently. If you could only make size 2 clothes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:07] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:38:08] Are you really a good designer?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:09] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:38:09] If your clothes only look good like that. So if you feel like your whole stand up career is gone because you can’t do Chinese accents anymore because it hurts people. Maybe there’ll be a world where it’ll be fine in 20 years or whatever then-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:23] I hope not.
AISLING BEA [00:38:23] But we don’t know how the balance will work out. And Pete Holmes has an amazing bit of standup about how we can’t do certain accents, but for some reason Italian accents are fine. “I want a piece of pizza”. And, you’re like, “No, that’s totally. No one, no one gets offended by that”. But, you know, in the same way, like a lot of Irish stuff that would’ve been really bad 40 years ago is kind of fine now because we’re kind of quite on top of the world culturally, we’re like not the underdogs anymore. We’re a highly educated country, that’s doing pretty well.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:49] Yeah, everyone is moving to you. Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:38:49] Everyone’s moving to Ireland looking to marry me for passports. And you can have it, if you just put a ring on it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:38:55] She’s shaking her boobs at the camera.
AISLING BEA [00:38:58] Tune in to the visuals to get that sweet, sweet extra content.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:03] Just so people could understand cadence.
AISLING BEA [00:39:05] Hey, it’s coming with a shake. Bring in all the boys to the yard. But do you know what I mean by that? Like we can use it there’s a period of like 50 years where we have to use our creativity so another community can kind of feel a bit better or less shit rather, we’re fine.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:22] Just do it.
AISLING BEA [00:39:23] That’s not the worse thing in the world. And. And also there are other places for jokes. Like it’s really annoying when you’re a stand up if you realize someone’s got the same bit as you and it’s boring. ‘Cause you’re like I worked really hard on that bit and a lot of the comedy that people feel, oh man, that was really well-crafted. It just doesn’t work anymore. It’s like when you’ve a joke that’s tired, like if you’ve got a brilliant, I don’t know, George Bush impression. And that’s what you did for like four, eight years. And now you just sort of can’t do because it feels a bit irrelevant. It’s annoying to have to retire a bit that you like. But.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:54] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:39:54] There’s new stuff. So start-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:39:55] I’m into the new stuff.
AISLING BEA [00:39:55] It actually keeps you, it keep you creative and there is a world where you, you have to go like hold back on things and go, “No. You know what? And STD joke always bloody works. That’s that’s great”. I think you would have gotten away with that more if you, you’re a standup or a comedian. Do you know what I mean?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:12] But no, and also, yeah, and also, I am someone who apologizes now. So that’s not like, I’ve always apologized. But because I apologize, I feel like then people want me to apologize for everything.
AISLING BEA [00:40:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:21] I said that Rihanna at the Met Ball without Rihanna was like sex without an orgasm. And a lot of people who have not yet achieved orgasm in their lives got very upset with me.
AISLING BEA [00:40:29] Oh man, come on.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:31] Singling them out.
AISLING BEA [00:40:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:32] And so I get now that it’s just, like it’s almost like a drinking game.
AISLING BEA [00:40:35] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:39] Of like how many time can we get Jameela Jamil to apologize. And that’s fine because sometimes I’m genuinely, I fucked up and I enjoy learning. I enjoy getting-.
AISLING BEA [00:40:45] Yeah, me too.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:45] I enjoy, also, I enjoy the ok-ness of being fallible and being able to say you’re wrong and doing better.
AISLING BEA [00:40:51] It’s so incredibly freeing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:51] I find that exciting.
AISLING BEA [00:40:52] In my 20s, I was so the opposite. I was really.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:55] Defensive.
AISLING BEA [00:40:56] Really defensive, really angry. I thought my way of loving was the only way to love. I thought my way of being a friend was the only way to be a friend. I thought, no, this is how it’s done. And then I did almost such a 360 that I fell into super apologetic.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:10] A 180, I think. ‘Cause 360 would bring you right around to being defensive.
AISLING BEA [00:41:14] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, my God. This actually happened on “Love Island” where someone I would have called Dopey was like, “Oh, my God, she’s just gonna turn my head 370 degrees”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:24] Oh, that’s amazing.
AISLING BEA [00:41:26] I thought that was really funny. Well, I basically done that. Like I’ve done a total 360 on that. I’m really bad at math.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:31] I met a man here recently, by the way, who I thought would be an amazing “Love Island” candidate. Where he, he was talking about how, “Yeah man, like exercise. It like releases the dolphins in your brain”. I was like, that’s so much of a better word than endorphins.
AISLING BEA [00:41:45] Yeah, it releases the dolphins.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:46] It releases the bloody dolphins.
AISLING BEA [00:41:48] Imagine how joyous, that feels better. Release the dolphins and they’d be like “blarp blarp”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:53] That’s what I think about now when I’m happy. I imagine all these flippers just having one.
AISLING BEA [00:41:55] Yeah, the dolphins are rel- yeah exactly. Balls on their noses. But enough about my weekend.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:02] I, I want to talk to you about shame some more.
AISLING BEA [00:42:07] Please.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:07] I just want to make sure that you’re feeling it.
AISLING BEA [00:42:08] I’m not embarrassed to talk about it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:11] You and I, when we were chatting on the phone earlier because we’re friends IRL.
AISLING BEA [00:42:15] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:16] We were talking about all the things that we were ashamed of when we were young that we look back on now.
AISLING BEA [00:42:21] Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:21] With so much regret, so many hours and days and weeks and months and years wasted.
AISLING BEA [00:42:26] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:26] Thinking about that, thinking so badly of ourselves for things that we have no reason to.
AISLING BEA [00:42:31] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:32] I mean, I was telling you earlier.
AISLING BEA [00:42:34] We’re talking about stamp collection.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:35] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:42:37] I’m joking.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:37] Do you, are you now like now that we’re both in our late 20s, now that we’re both in our 30s, are you looking back on things and kind of reflecting on them? Also just with the general conversation of female shame. You know, thanks to people like Brené Brown and, and etc. You know, now that this is becoming a conversation that we’re no longer ashamed to have. What have you been looking back on with regret?
AISLING BEA [00:43:01] Massively periods. Ew! What? Blah. I read a book just this year called “Period Power” by a writer called Maisie Hill. And I honest to God, I am 35 years of age, was suddenly learning the names for my bits. And I can’t bloody believe it. And she has this whole thing about the cycle, your cycle, and week to week. It’s very comprehensive that it’s put into like a winter, summer, spring, autumn and how to harness that for your mental health as well. And that she talks about like what your body’s doing during a month. And it’s like, say, for example, the week before your period, we all know we’re like, “Oh, I feel a bit mad”. And she’s like, “No, it’s not madness. It’s heightened awareness”. And that’s there because there was a certain time in cavewoman times when your body didn’t know if it was pregnant or yet. So you were on high alert for any danger and you would look around. So your heightened sensitivity.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:03] Wow.
AISLING BEA [00:44:03] Now the way that comes out might be like, “Fuck you, Jameela”. And that’s not right.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:07] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:44:07] But the idea that something has happened.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:10] It’s fight-or-flight.
AISLING BEA [00:44:11] Yeah, your instincts are quite heightened. It’s not wrong. It’s heightened.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:15] Got it.
AISLING BEA [00:44:15] It’s just to question it. And also then after your period, the sort of week and a half afterwards is your heightened estrogen time. And that’s where, you know, you’re not pregnant. So you’re going out looking for a mate. That’s when you’re more sociable.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:27] More randy.
AISLING BEA [00:44:27] Yeah. More randy andy. I’m there right now, baby!
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:31] Hey. Stay on that side of the bloody desk.
AISLING BEA [00:44:33] But even, to even know why some weeks you can manage lots of stuff and other weeks it’s crippling to have to go to another dinner. I’d never, I’d never known at all that had anything to do with my cycle. And I would wonder why one week I’d be up and the next week I’d be down.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:51] Also, other people would wonder why you’re up and down.
AISLING BEA [00:44:53] Yes. Yes. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:54] You didn’t even know to tell them or warn them.
AISLING BEA [00:44:56] But also what you can do. And so the reason it’s called “Period Power” is it’s, there are certain times of the month when you’re better at stuff, but it doesn’t mean that you’re bad all month or bad the week beforehand. So even in terms of being a writer, she was like, when you’re estrogens up and you’re in randy Andy mode, that is not the time to be editing in front of a computer. But that is great for brainstorming, creativity.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:19] Living.
AISLING BEA [00:45:19] In chats doing a podcast. You know, big shout out to everyone who does podcasts for a living. But like, that’s the time to be.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:24] The many, many women in this industry.
AISLING BEA [00:45:27] Yes. Exactly. It’s notorious for having lots of women. But just to know how to harness where you are week to week and even to look at your diary and go, oh, god, that’s the two after, after that estrogen week you get a drop in your estrogen and suddenly you become a little bit more insular. So if you look at that week and go, “Oh god, I have five dinner parties that week”. I know that’s a real middle-class lady thing to say. But even if you like, I’ve a birthday party. I’m hanging around with people. That’s too many things that week that might really drain me. Whereas on another week that might be like fantastic to even look at how you balance yourself or where you put the big scary presentation or where you put the big, scary public speaking or what do you do when and that you can lean into your cycle and how much that affects your mental health. It just blew my mind.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:15] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:46:15] And if I, like I couldn’t work out when I was writing my show, why one week I would be so, I would write 20 pages and another week just getting around to anything just tired me. I was just so cripplingly tired. And she was like, in your insular week, that’s a great week to do a version of editing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:32] Great.
AISLING BEA [00:46:32] That’s where something on your own kind of focused, a little bit of quiet space. That’s the week to do that. And just knowing that, and I’m sitting there going all through my 20s, why I could talk for Ireland one week and why something else and would be tired.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:44] And why didn’t we look into it? Like was it? It was. You know, in no small part, because there’s a bit of shame around us being educated about it. Like I learned about fallopian tubes and I learned about igneous rock, but no one ever told me about my hormonal cycle in the entire time they had me.
AISLING BEA [00:47:01] No.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:01] Seventeen years. At least four of which I was bleeding.
AISLING BEA [00:47:03] And it was also the burden of it. The burden. This is something awful. Girls. It’s gonna happen. It’s awful. But it will happen.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:11] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:47:11] And it’s gotta be awful. Let’s just say a week before after you’re mad. The week of it, you’re, you’re dying. The week after it, you’re so relieved you didn’t die and then it goes back into it roughly again at the same time. You have two days in between that, that aren’t the worst in the world. But also on top of that, you’ve got sore boobs, big boobs, small boobs, but you’re bleeding out of the middle and no one called an ambulance and you’re like, “Ok, that’s just life now”. Rather than going how to harness the power of that, how to be highly intuitive.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:35] Sure.
AISLING BEA [00:47:35] How to like go, “God. I actually, my reactions there or let me wait a week and I will really kind of get a good gage of who’s on my team and who’s not”. And the power of us. Rather than… Sandy Toksvig, famously, when I think when she was at Cambridge, this professor came out and go, “Cavemen were trying to create calendars. And so you can see this sticker, this rock that has 28 days and already there were so advanced as caveman that they were like making a calendar”. And she was like, “That wasn’t a caveman. That was a cave. That was a cavewoman”. And they’re like, “What”? And she was like, “Why would a caveman need to know 28 days passing? Of course, it was a cave woman who made the first calendars”. Our whole years and month-like cycle is based on the cycle of a woman. It’s not based on the cycle of like how many boners you get or else each day would be 70. 70 days. But and that to me is fascinating because also I really would have loved that as an aide for my mind during my 20s to know what was happening with my body hormonally from week to week to know how to plan myself. And now I really look at like even going into next year and hopefully writing a second series, I’ll be looking at when I plan my brainstorming sessions when I’m like, “Oh, you’ll get more done that week because that’s, that’s editing week”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:50] Yeah. Do have an app? I have an app.
AISLING BEA [00:48:52] I have an app. Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:53] I have an app that tells me in the week before.
AISLING BEA [00:48:55] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:55] That your cycle is about to begin.
AISLING BEA [00:48:57] Yes. Yes. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:58] Which is basically just giving me a big old head’s up reminder that if I’m crying.
AISLING BEA [00:49:03] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:03] Now I remember why.
AISLING BEA [00:49:04] Maybe have a little reason. Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:05] I know I use the app reminder to, I don’t just look at it and then quietly put it away. I start showing it to people.
AISLING BEA [00:49:11] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:12] I’m like, “Hey. Ok, so this. Guys”.
AISLING BEA [00:49:14] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:14] This is happening.
AISLING BEA [00:49:15] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:16] Everyone buckle up.
AISLING BEA [00:49:17] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:18] And I warn my male friends, like I came home the other day with what I know had been confirmed to me was terrible PMS by my app.
AISLING BEA [00:49:26] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:26] And I came home and my friends said, “How are you”? Now ordinarily I would just say, “Yeah, I’m alright”.
AISLING BEA [00:49:31] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:31] But instead I was like, “I just want to punch all of you in the face”.
AISLING BEA [00:49:34] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:34] And it doesn’t mean that that’s really me.
AISLING BEA [00:49:36] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:36] But that’s a feeling I’m having right now. So I think I probably need to remove myself.
AISLING BEA [00:49:40] Yes, sort of to remove yourself. But to know rather than to like overly plan to many things.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:43] And to just go and have a lie down. And to you, know it’s not personal.
AISLING BEA [00:49:45] Yes, exactly.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:46] It’s so important that people don’t always take our behavior so personally, because often like we aren’t really wielding it.
AISLING BEA [00:49:52] And for your friends to sometimes go, “Hey, I’m in a headspace, I’ve got a problem here and I need to tell you about it and I need help”. And then another week it might be your PMS week going, “Hey, I really need to talk to someone. I’ve loads of feelings and I need, I just need someone to listen and to go, Oh, this is your week where you just feel certain things. Let me help you out with that. And we can work out what is a good gut reaction. And thank you”. I honestly think all detectives should be female the week before their period ’cause they’d be like, “I know that something has gone wrong in this town”. And like if Sarah London or Jumper, imagine.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:23] where were they from?
AISLING BEA [00:50:25] I was trying to do “The Killing”, the Danish. So I should be like, “I know there’s someone buried in this lake. But I will definitely know that in about four days time, according to my app. I will be able to find a killer. But this week I’m just going to write up the reports”. So like.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:47] You’re so weird. I love you.
AISLING BEA [00:50:48] That for me, is like the, the shame around periods and the female genitalia. And when I like I didn’t get my first period till I was 17. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I didn’t talk to many friends about it. I didn’t tell my mother until I was like, “Is there any way you can get me [murmur murmur] in the shop”? She was like, “I’ll write you a grant”. And I had so much shame around periods, probably until two or three years ago.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:13] Yeah, same.
AISLING BEA [00:51:14] In my 20s, I didn’t tell people.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:16] I used apologize to my boyfriend about it. What was I doing?
AISLING BEA [00:51:18] Yeah, and also men can really handle blood and guts. Like for most of history they were in wars.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:24] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:51:24] So they’re like, “Yas, please”. You know, this like probably reminds me of the ghosts of, you know, soldiers or whatever. So like their blood, blood, blood.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:31] Genetic response to it. Yeah, they love it.
AISLING BEA [00:51:33] Yeah. Like if you look at most movies that are aimed at men. It’s just blood. So, like they’re down for it, it’s us that has a problem with going, “Uuuh”. You know?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:41] I know. It’s so bizarre. Generally is shame something that you are coming out of and through?
AISLING BEA [00:51:48] Yeah, probably.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:50] Has stand up helped that by just getting up on stage and talking about things that some people feel like embarrassed about?
AISLING BEA [00:51:54] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:55] Like single life or all these different kind of things.
AISLING BEA [00:51:57] Yeah, but then there would be definite things that I feel still embarrassed by. And maybe loneliness was one of them.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:04] Right.
AISLING BEA [00:52:04] Like I, I’ve genuinely and I but then that’s when I use humor. I put up on Instagram the picture I was embarrassed by, which was my face and the word loneliness. I was like, “Oh my God, this is what I become the face of, haha”. And I was like, “Oh now I’ve control the narrative around it”. But a bit of me wanted to be like to my PR, “Email ‘The Guardian’ and tell them to take it down”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:26] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:52:27] Like, “I’m so embarrassed”. You know? And honestly, I would have. I often think as well. I would rather a sex tape came out of me than a picture of me eating when I’m on my own.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:40] Really?
AISLING BEA [00:52:40] Yeah. Me eating on my own.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:43] God, I mean, there’s that whole blog of women eating alone on the underground.
AISLING BEA [00:52:46] Oh, baby, just the loneliness of it and the way I eat when I think no one’s watching. I honestly would rather a big old tape of me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:52:55] Is it cinema popcorn face? Shoveling.
AISLING BEA [00:52:56] It’s like bad posture. Just “Argh, argh, argh, no one’s, argh, argh”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:02] I’m worried now because I realize I don’t have a different setting, so I might be doing my lonely eating face in front of my lover. That’s terrifying
AISLING BEA [00:53:11] Oooh, my lover.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:11] Yeah. Before we go further, I’m just gonna take us to a quick break. And we’re back.
AISLING BEA [00:53:22] I love English accents sometimes. My lover.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:27] My lover. That’s so funny. Yeah. I’m still I’m kind of. I think I’m pretty much out of the woods of shame now. But that’s kind of. I’m, there’s always new ones that pop out unexpectedly. I told you earlier, I’m sort of coming to terms with farting. That’s the sort of new thing.
AISLING BEA [00:53:40] I don’t want to talk about it.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:40] I think you already shot me off. Your eyebrows just jumped up.
AISLING BEA [00:53:43] It’s something that I can’t relate to.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:44] Shut down.
AISLING BEA [00:53:45] I’ve never done it. And that is where we end the pod-. Can we go to another break?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:50] Good. No.
AISLING BEA [00:53:50] And not breaking wind.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:51] We are going there.
AISLING BEA [00:53:53] I don’t want to.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:54] Theo Von talked about this-.
AISLING BEA [00:53:54] There are certain things that I should be ashamed of. And I think that’s where you should hold your shame in your bottom.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:01] Theo Von talks about it. He’s just like, “Farting? When are we going to beat it”? He’s like, you have an app that can, that can detect your blood pressure. But we, you know, we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to our assholes. And I think that’s so funny.
AISLING BEA [00:54:13] Yeah, and that is a nice darkness, I will say.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:15] But anyway, it’s something that I’m personally working through, which obviously you do not approve of. And you are shaming me on my podcast about shame.
AISLING BEA [00:54:20] I’m actually gonna shame, I’m going to shame you about that, Jameela. I’m gonna shame you about that. That’s my-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:25] That’s fine, I accept. I’ll go away and investigate that in my private time. Ok. Ok. Well, look, I have to let you go soon. Thank you for coming on and talking to me about mental health.
AISLING BEA [00:54:36] Yeah, I’ve got a big business meeting to go to you about modeling.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:39] Sure. Yep. And it’s up, you say all this. You keep joking about modeling, but you are actually for those who can’t see this woman. She’s a legit smack.
AISLING BEA [00:54:48] I wasn’t joking.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:51] You’re on your way to model.
AISLING BEA [00:54:52] Why do you think I was joking? I never thought I was joking.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:57] You’re one of my favorite people to look at in the whole world.
AISLING BEA [00:55:01] Oh my god, Face of Loneliness. 2019. Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:03] There we go.
AISLING BEA [00:55:04] Miss Lonely. Thank you so much to the Academy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:06] What a campaign. I actually have it, yeah. I’ve recently done a campaign with a company around loneliness, so I have a similar experience.
AISLING BEA [00:55:13] Oh my god, you can punch me in the face.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:14] Yeah, you want to join me.
AISLING BEA [00:55:17] What’s it like for women getting endorsement deals after 30? Totally fine as long as you want to be the face of HPV and loneliness.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:24] Aging.
AISLING BEA [00:55:25] And farting.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:25] Yeah. Okay. So.
AISLING BEA [00:55:29] Older ass.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:30] Yeah. Okay. I started a movement called “I Weigh”.
AISLING BEA [00:55:41] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:41] Which you are aware of.
AISLING BEA [00:55:42] Very much so.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:42] And that is a movement against shame. In it’s entirety. And that’s why I wanted you to come here and talk to me about it. One thing that I would like people to do on this podcast is to tell me what they weigh, not in pounds and kilograms in case you hadn’t already.
AISLING BEA [00:55:56] 700-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:56] Gaged that.
AISLING BEA [00:55:57] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:55:59] If you had to tell me a couple of things that you weigh yourself in as a measurement.
AISLING BEA [00:56:04] Oh.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:05] What would they be?
AISLING BEA [00:56:06] Do you know what, Jameela? That’s made me suddenly emotional.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:09] Has it?
AISLING BEA [00:56:10] Yes. I think ’cause I see the Instagram account so much and I really like, like the posts, but I’ve never thought about doing it myself. And we started off by bragging and stuff like that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:21] Yeah.
AISLING BEA [00:56:21] I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m actually quite proud of my achievements”.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:23] No, good. Oh, wow, I love this.
AISLING BEA [00:56:26] It could be that or I’m tearing up at the thought of you bringing up farting again. And I’m so upset
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:30] Or maybe I just farted and it’s reached you.
AISLING BEA [00:56:32] No! It reached my eyeballs first. I weigh-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:37] God, it really has reached you?
AISLING BEA [00:56:38] Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:56:39] Emotionally.
AISLING BEA [00:56:39] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. God damn it. She’s broken the seal of my clown mask. Or maybe I’m a really good actress. I just playing with you. So I weigh an ability to love, I think. I weigh so many friends.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:02] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:57:03] I weigh working on myself. I weigh a TV show that I know has meant a lot to a lot of people.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:13] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:57:14] I weigh writing an article about my dad, which if he was around, I’m sure he would have been proud of, but also would’ve been like, “Why are you writing an article about me? I’m here”. So it would have been quite an odd thing to do. And I weigh a comedy career that has bought me a house that I live in. And I bought it all myself.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:43] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:57:45] I weigh a conservatory I bought for my mother.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:48] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:57:49] Can you imagine if I did actually weigh as much as a conservatory.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:53] Then you would be welcome at “I Weigh”.
AISLING BEA [00:57:54] Yeah. But also, what a shit conservatory. Because I’m, I’m, I’m not that heavy, but I. I weigh. I think I weigh grit and graft. I, I keep going when I get knocked down and I think that, and I don’t harbor hate. I think I’ve learned to let go of a lot of hate and anger. So I think I weigh that. And I also I weigh getting rid of my story, which I hung on to for quite a long time. So I think that’s what I weigh. Well, yeah, I, I weigh I really tried hard with my show to make something that would hopefully make people feel a little less lonely.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:50] Mmhmm.
AISLING BEA [00:58:52] I think I weigh that, so that’s, I weigh the face of loneliness. The current phase of loneliness. So, yeah, I think that’s.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:57] Well, your weigh, making me cry on my fucking podcast so.
AISLING BEA [00:59:00] Oh no, babe. Looks like two people are about to get their period, am I right? Syncing our apps.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:05] I, thank you for coming on and being so funny and educational. And honest.
AISLING BEA [00:59:13] We’re just two TOEFL teachers.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:15] I know.
AISLING BEA [00:59:15] Teaching, teaching emotions as a foreign language. Hey!
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:18] Hey. What a callback. Thank you. Aisling. You continue to be just one of my absolute faves in this industry. May you continue to find funny and interesting ways to tell all of us the truth.
AISLING BEA [00:59:31] Oh thank you for-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:31] And your work means a lot to me.
AISLING BEA [00:59:32] All of your hard work and for young women everywhere. Thank you very much as well. Sweet, sweet Jameela.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:39] This has been a delight, we got to fucking talk more often.
AISLING BEA [00:59:42] Oh, my God.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:43] All right. Let’s get out of here. You gotta get to your modeling meeting.
AISLING BEA [00:59:45] Yeah, I gotta get to modeling meetings, guys. I’ve got an STD campaign that I’m gonna be the face of. We need to pick some outfits.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:55] Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. I just want to give an extra massive thank you to people who helped me make this Sophia Jennings, my producer and researcher, Kimmie Lucas, my producer, Andrew Carson, my editor. James Blake, my boyfriend who made the beautiful music for this show. And now I’d like to leave you by passing the mic to a member of our community sharing their “I weigh”.
I WEIGH COMMUNITY MEMBER [01:00:17] I weigh being a 16 year old activist and aspiring pediatric oncology nurse, having my own charity organization, being an author, writing stories and poetry and being an animal lover.
February 3, 2023
Actress, LGBTQ+ advocate, and legend Laverne Cox joins Jameela this week to discuss her journey to who she is now, how spending time with trans women changed her mind on who she herself could be, the birth of #transisbeautiful, the problem with trans politics today, reaching across the aisle, the real problems facing Americans today, and more.